The key to smooth traveling is to prepare ahead of time. There are several ways to make your airport experience expedient and less stressful; note I didn’t say stress-free!
Review my travel etiquette tips to help you start off your next journey on a positive note.
Apply for TSA Pre–Check. TSA Pre-Check allows low-risk travelers accelerated screening at certain U.S. airports. Participants enjoy faster-moving lines, keeping on their shoes, belt and jewelry while going through security (not to mention an overall more pleasant travel experience). Visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for qualifying details.
Utilize online check-in. One crowded line you can easily bypass is the airline ticket counter. All you need is a computer, iPad or cell phone to check-in 24 hours in advance, confirm your seat, and even print your boarding pass. If you aren’t checking your luggage, proceed straight to security, boarding pass in hand. With this program, you are quickly on your way to the gate, bar or duty-free shop with the extra time you saved.
Check for flight delays before you leave home. I have an app on my phone that alerts me if there is a delay or cancellation. It has saved me several times from getting a taxi, arriving at the airport, and unloading all of my bags, only to find out my flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems or crew issues. The weather is more obvious, but you never know when a delay is scheduled thanks to rerouting or other obstacles that you could have been notified of several hours in advance.
Invest in and fill out sturdy luggage tags beforehand. Writing out your personal information on those little paper tags at the airport check-in counter is wasted time. Next time you are at the store, pick up some bright colored identification tags to label before you get to the airport. You might also slip your business card into the identification slot.
Dress appropriately. Spartan sandals, shoes with multiple buckles, and lace up boots are not efficient choices when going through security. It’s not pleasant to take your shoes off and traipse across the dirty airport floor, and even more unnerving when waiting for someone ahead of you to tediously unbuckle, untie, and unwrap their hot sticky feet from their cumbersome footwear. Both common sense and courteous consideration dictate you choose footwear that is easy to slip on and off.
Wear minimal accessories. Removing your statement necklace or stacked bangles and unfastening your belt takes up precious time. When possible, store these items in your purse or carry-on and put them on after you get through the security line. Leave your heirloom jewelry at home and you’ll have one less thing to worry about losing.
Keep your ID and other relevant documents together.
It speeds up the process when you can access your boarding pass, ID, and travel itinerary by opening one pouch or folder. Staying organized also allows airport employees to efficiently do their job.
Be familiar with what you can, and cannot carry-on. We have all been stuck in line behind someone who is foolishly trying to pass something through security that isn’t allowed. They reason, haggle, and argue as if the conversation is negotiable. TSA rules are created to ensure passenger and employee safety. No amount of cajoling will allow your scissors or competitive sports bow and arrow through the line. When in doubt as to what is acceptable, refer to the handy TSA iPhone mobile app. Just type in the item in question, and receive a quick response. Unfortunately for me, I can’t bring any of my unique dining etiquette utensils through either!
For more of my travel etiquette tips check out my article International Etiquette for Business Travelers: One Week, One bag on The Huffington Post.