Getting to your departure gate these days is an obstacle course. It’s impossible to say what delays you might face at check-in counters, security checkpoints and beyond. Here are strategies I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) flying 50,000-plus miles yearly.
- Book a flight with a lofty on-time record. Quickly see the historical performance of a given flight on websites such as FlightStats.com.
- Check in online starting 24 hours in advance. If you don’t have access to a printer, send boarding passes to a mobile phone if you can. Get a seat assignment to lessen chances of being bumped from an overbooked flight. Consider paying extra at booking for a good seat. If you’re taking a “codeshare” flight involving partner airlines, know which carrier’s gate to go to. It can be confusing.
- Gather intel before heading to the airport. I use FlightAware.com to see if my plane is delayed. If it’s coming from somewhere else, I also track it on that site. I use airport websites or iFly.com to see wait times at security checkpoints.
- Get to airports early. If you are checking bags or tend to get anxious, because so many are flying, it’s safest to arrive two hours early for domestic flights and three for international. Come later if you can use speedy security lines or don’t check bags. Going carry-on also means you can change flights easily if yours has a problem.