7 Ways You Can Avoid Missing Your Flight
Flight delays and cancellations are one thing, but missing a flight entirely is a whole different scenario. Ask any traveler about their anxieties as their trip approaches, and nearly everyone will mention that they are nervous about missing their flight.
It happens to the best of us, but there are a few ways you can prepare ahead of time to help avoid this travel headache. Here are our best tips from seasoned travelers on how to avoid missing your flight, and to make sure you catch your plane every time.
Delayed or Canceled Flight From/To/Within Europe? Get up to $670 per passenger! Check your flight now.
Online Flight Check-in
Pretty much every major airline offers online flight check-in beginning about 24 hours prior to your scheduled departure. This can shave a few crucial minutes off of your "standing in line time" at the airport, and lines are one of the main obstacles that can cause you to miss a flight.
Online check-in can be done from a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Some airlines offer check-in services through an app, while for others you simply need to access their website. You will need ID and a flight confirmation number (occasionally you may need the credit card you use to book the tickets, especially if this is counting towards frequent flyer program), and not much else.
You can choose your seat assignments, pay any applicable fees for extra checked bags, and if you are so inclined, you can purchase seat upgrades at this time.
If you have luggage to check, you will still need to visit the check-in counter, however if you are strictly bringing carry-on luggage you can skip this step altogether and proceed directly to the security line.
TSA Pre Check
The security line is often the longest line you will stand in at the airport. You can help to expedite this process a bit by signing up for the TSA Pre-check program. This program is designed for frequent travelers that are deemed "low risk," it allows you to get through security without many of the typical hassle such as removing your shoes, removing laptops and tablets, etc.
A similar program for international travelers is the Global Entry system. This is similar to the TSA Pre-check program, except that it applies to international customs lines. Both of these programs to require advance sign-up, but once you have your account established, it really can save you time, and get you to your scheduled flights a bit faster.
Stay On Top of Your Flight Schedule
This is a piece of travel advice you probably hear all the time, but you might be surprised how easy it is to forget to do this. If you are rushing to catch a flight immediately after work, or if you are leaving in the predawn darkness and are a bit too groggy to remember, it's very easy to overlook checking your flight status before you depart for the airport.
Many airlines offer apps as mentioned before, and these apps can be set up to send you alerts about flight delays or cancellations. They can also let you know if there have been any gate changes, thereby saving you time you might otherwise spend wandering around the airport.
Know What You Can and Can't Pack
A sure fire way to slow your progress through the airport is to get pulled out of the security line for a bag search. Please make sure that you have read and understand which items can and cannot be checked, and which items can and cannot be carried on. If you have any questions about a specific item, is always best to contact the airline.
Be Prepared for the Security Line
Remember to put all personal toiletries in the appropriate, TSA approved containers, and in turn, to put all of those containers together in a clear plastic bag for quick inspection. Slip on shoes are also a great idea, as they don't need to be tied and untied in the security line. Make sure that your laptops are easily accessible and easily removed for inspection.
Have your travel documents ready to hand over to the security agent, and make it a point to not wear too much extra metal that might interfere with the metal detectors. Think belt buckles, jewelry, spare change, etc. you will get through the line much quicker if you have everything in order ahead of time.
Weigh Your Bags at Home
Luggage scales are relatively inexpensive, and can help you balance out your luggage before leaving for the airport, rather than trying to do it in a rush at the check-in counter.
Check with your airline to find out the maximums for checked luggage and carry-on luggage, and make sure that you are coming in under the maximum weight. If an oversized or overly heavy bag is unavoidable, be prepared to make payment quickly at the desk, or pay ahead of time when you check-in online.
Have a Parking Plan
Some airport parking lots have operating hours. So, if you planned to park in a certain lot ahead of a 3 AM flight, you need to make sure that the parking lot will be open when you arrive. Another thing to check for is the shuttle schedule. A shuttle may run every 10 minutes during peak hours, but it may run less frequently in the middle of the night, or during certain weather conditions. The bottom line is, you need to have a plan not only for where to park, but how to get from the parking lot to your terminal.
Non-airport parking lots are also an option (and often the cheaper one) but the same rules apply: find out how frequently their shuttles run, and if there are any parts of the day where you cannot access the lot.
There is a little bit of give-and-take when it comes to catching your flight on time. The more you can do ahead of your departure, the better your odds are of catching your plane.
But while travelers can make their airport experience easier by following these guidelines, what happens when the airlines themselves are the cause of the delay or cancellation? If you are traveling to Europe in the future, it is important that you know your rights before you depart. Travelers who take every step to ensure that they depart on time do not deserve to be left stranded at the airport with no recourse. To learn more about European flight delay compensation, click here.
About Joanna Medina
Born and raised in San Diego, California. I am a writer, dreamer, traveler and all around Truth seeker. I have a passion and desire to help others and truly enjoy seeing people thrive. I have been partnering with Flightbucks since January, 2016 to educate travelers about their rights and have the added perk of sharing travel insights through our blog.