Have a short layover and have to get to your next flight on time? Woke up late and are worried that you’ll miss your plane? Maybe you just travel a lot and you’re sick of spending a ton of time getting to your gate. Whatever your traveling woes, here are eight ways to get to your gate even faster the next time you fly.
1. Book a Seat at the Front of the Plane
If you have a connecting flight that doesn’t leave much time in between landing and takeoff, getting a front row seat on the first plane will get you out faster. You’ll also board last on your connecting flight, which gives you even more wiggle room.
2. Carry On All Your Luggage
If you can fit everything into your carryon bag, skip checking luggage altogether. This’ll speed up the process on both ends of your flight (before you take off and when you land). Make sure that your carryon is the right size, though, so you don’t have to go all the way back to check an oversized carryon. Invest in a carryon that has wheels and a retractable handle to make transporting it a breeze.
3. Check In Online
There are few things that waste more time at the airport than standing on line just to check in. Skip that whole step by checking in before you leave the house. Or, check in via your phone while you’re en route to the airport and then just print out the boarding pass at a self-serve kiosk.
4. Download an Airport Map
The bigger the airport, the more likely it is that you’ll get lost. Yes, there are maps in the terminals, but they’re not always easy to spot. Instead, download airport maps to your phone so that you know how to get to your gate. You’ll also know where food and magazine stands are so that you don’t get all the way to your gate just to find out you have to backtrack.
5. Get Travel Alert Apps
Last-minute gate changes can really throw off your travel plans, especially if you miss the flight entirely. Download an app that will give you regular flight updates, like TripIt Pro. If something about your flight changes, you’ll be alerted either via e-mail or text.
6. Prepare Ahead of Time for the Security Line
Getting organized before it’s your turn to push everything through the X-ray machine is key to making this portion of your trip go smoothly and quickly. Make sure your liquids are the correct carryon size and put them all in one plastic bag that you can easily pull out of your bag. Wear shoes that easily slip off and store your laptop in a TSA-approved case so you don’t have to take it out.
7. Sign Up for the TSA’s PreCheck Program
The TSA PreCheck program lets you use a screening lane that’s much shorter than the security line you’re used to waiting on. You also don’t have to take off your outerwear, shoes or belt. You can even leave your laptop in your carry on bag instead of having to clumsily pull it out and send it through the X-ray machine.
8. Upload Your Boarding Pass
If you have a smartphone, there’s no need to bother with regular ol’ paper tickets. Most airlines will let you download an electronic boarding pass. Just make sure your phone is fully charged before you head to the airport! Otherwise, you’ll have to head to the kiosk to print out the boarding pass, which will just add time to the trip.
Sara Wells is a travel blogger who writes on behalf of Protectyourbubble.com, who provides car rental and travel insurance.