11 Ways to Fly Before your Flight: A Step by Step Guide to Airport Check in Domination

by Sydney Binnington October 06, 2015 1 Comment

11 Ways to Fly Before your Flight: A Step by Step Guide to Airport Check in Domination

Randomly going on a Canadian-American-Mexican-European-UK-Caribbean-Russsian tour here.

1. Before You Head to That Airport: 

    DO have PASSPORT, MONEY, HEADPHONES.

    *Second tier importance: Sweater (for in-flight pillow and warmth), carry-on change of clothes (in case they lose your luggage it’s good to have some back-up stuff with you. Include bather if you’re headed somewhere warm) 

    2. Arriving for your flight:

    DO- Actually, I can’t lecture you on the importance of being there hours before your flights because despite how often I travel, I still have not remotely begun to acknowledge this advisory.

    Is it really a coincidence that the worst trip I've ever taken was moving back to Canada with all this SH*T?! These bags were so packed, I had to wear my heaviest items which included Cowboy boots, heavy wool peacoat, sweatpants, two hats and infinity shirts.

    “Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (re: distractions) you bring with you”[1]

    When I'm not moving, however, I have mastered the art of packing light with NO checked bags. #clutchAF

    SO if I check in online, I can just cruise right over to customs.. Which brings me to my next tips..

    *Domestic flights, I can cut it to 45-minute arrival prior to departure
    **Int’l flights, 1 hour MIN before departure… I would recommend 1.5 hours until you master the following skills:

    3. The Customs/Security Lines:

    DON’T be afraid to ask people to skip ahead if you have a legitimate chance of missing your flight. It’s Do or Die in those lines. The stakes of your trip are way too high, plus you’ll very likely never see these people again. Flash them your ticket and pump up the flustered-ness.

    Have you passport and boarding card ready. You can put your passport away once you get in security line. (See: Step 5)

    4. The Customs Officer:

    In most terminals now, much calmer machines have replaced the borderline-petrifying customs agents. However, if the machine senses any red-flags, or a ‘random selection’ then you will be sent to a special line that will add another 20 minutes at least to your time. Factor this in if you have any history of trouble, or share a name with a serial killer from the 1800s (happens to a friend of a friend of mine). When speaking to the agents: No joke making! (I don’t care if you’re effing Amy Poehler- do NOT). Also no small talk, no smiling or breathing… JK JK.. kind of, but not. They want quick, simple answers so give them what they want and nothing more. You can add a lot of time on here so don’t test it!

    * Because I’ve had some problems in the past I always bring a ‘Proof Package’ with me. It consists of Proof of Domestic Residency (recent bills, official mail sent to my home address in Canada), Proof of Domestic Employment (T4 tax forms, letters from bosses), Proof of Reason for Travel (tickets to concert or shows I’ll be attending while on my trip, hotel/hostel reservations, car rental or excursion confirmations)
    **Duh: Always best to have a return flight booked.
    DO NOT attempt above. I was in such a rush leaving San Juan that I threw everything on- including my lunch. I know what you're wondering and, YES the pizza was accepted and YES it was effing GOOD so in that sense it was totally worth it. But I did have to go back and take out my laptop and liquids.  

    5. Security:

    DO be SWIFT in that security line. Not nobody has patience for a glacial n00b up there. All countries’ airport laws vary a bit so I always go with being better safe than sorry. This means TWO bins:

      1. Shoes= OFF, Ziploc bag of 100ml/3.4 fl. oz. liquids= OUT and in bin with shoes, accessories, jacket etc.
      2. Laptop=OUT, even out of it’s little zip-up case and in 2nd bin SOLO.
      *some intense customs agents will give you a hard time for not having a regulation sized Ziploc bag
      **Still, no one seems to have a straight answer on whether deodorant falls into the carry-on contraband category, so if you must bring it with you, go with a dry solid to be safe.
      ***If I have a few extra minutes I opt out of that terrifying x-ray naked body scan machine and ask for a little complimentary pat down :) (Just say you have a shoulder injury and can’t raise your arms)
      Crust is fo suckas!

      6. Post-Security:

      DO find your gate first thing. No matter how much time you think you’ve got. Gates change, departure times change and even get cancelled. Head right to your gate and take note of the line-ups for refreshment stands along the way. Then calculate your boarding time vs distance to said line ups vs a rough estimate on the wait for each vs the quality of refreshments at said stand and make an educated decision on where is the most feasible place to stop.

      *Now would be the time to pause your stop-watch and log how long it took you to get through the airport.

      That time I nailed my calculations and was able to do this on my layover. (Shoutout to the Canalien hoodie for keeping my scalp less-burnt)

      7. Boarding:

      At this point, you’re calm about the fact you’re at your gate. You know there’s a guaranteed seat waiting on that plane, you can take your time… WRONG.

      If you’re like me and fly with carry-on… unlike your seat, that overhead space is NOT guaranteed. Because of this, I’ve had my luggage taken from me at the gate and TWICE I’ve had them not there when I landed (both times US Airways, weird! ((Alas, other tales for other times)). 

      Sub point 1) If you’re near the back of the plane you should board asap so you don’t look like the straggler doing a walk of shame all the way to the back. And you better hope there isn’t an elderly couple you’re going to have to force out to get up so you can slide into your window seat (that you’ve obv pre-booked… don’t even need to mention that tip!...Or did I… #windowseats4lyfe am I right?)
       
      Sub point 2) Even if you’re at the front of the plane. If you get on last and all of the overhead around you is full then you’re basically doomed because you’ll have to put your stuff above rows behind you and you will either have to wait for the entire plane to clear off, or basically be like a pushy salmon swimming upstream, back through people to grab your stuff just to turn around and head back out the front.

      8. In-Flight: 

      DO go to the loo before you board- especially if you’ve nabbed that window seat! It’s very important to drink water while airborne, but equally as important to not disrupt your entire row for constant bathroom breaks. 

      *Other things to avoid include: malodorous foods, and unprovoked conversation.
      *Things to consider: If you’re like me and sleep like a bebe in flight.. Throw on some sunglasses- they’ll increase the quality of your sleep and there is nothing more terrifying than someone passed out with their eyes open. It happens.

       

      Luckily I was with friends for this Vegas flight in 2012. But even then- I was prepared! #bau$$

      9. You’ve landed:

      If you’ve got a tight connection to make, DO warn your flight attendant in flight. They will notify your next flight and help you de-plane ASAP. Otherwise, don’t be one of those people who stands up as soon as the seat-belt sign is turned off. It stresses everyone out and you won’t be going anywhere for at least 10 minutes. When the doors open in the front, just calmly get up and in one chill, swift motion, grab your carry-on (that you’ve stored in the bin directly over or ahead of you), and give the pilots and staff a cool head nod as you strut out like a bau$$.

         *sunglasses optional.

        That time I couldn't achieve any of this because was at the mercy of the airport wheelchair assistants because I sprained my ankle (on stage with Macklemore so wtv) the night before our flight. Chill AF life.

        10. Once you land: 

        The race is on to get to the front of that customs line. DO go go go! (four-wheeled suitcases are a necessity if you care about your time.)

        If you have checked bags however, you’re just going to have to chill. You can sprint past as many passengers as you like but you’ll end up waiting at the baggage carousel with all of them, and their discerning glares.

         *sunglasses would be mandatory here.

        My friend Adriana doing this to me in the Valencia airport during our backpack around Europe.

        11. And you're free:

        Once you’ve got everything you need and you’re allowed out of that building and enter your beautiful destination, DO head to the nearest beach or bar and treat yourself.

        *Just one. 

         

        [1] Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. Chatham: Vermilion, 2011. Print.





        Sydney Binnington
        Sydney Binnington

        Author


        1 Response

        Lindsay McGeachie
        Lindsay McGeachie

        October 06, 2015

        Excellent advise, explained sequentially by a very experienced traveller with an excellent sense of humour!
        Very funny!

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