TIP #1: Get Off the Beaten Path. Don’t take the obvious route. For instance, when choosing a departure airport, we could have chosen an airport closer to where we live: Say, “Indianapolis”. But there are a lot of people who live in Indy. We did not want to get caught in the 7:30 p.m. air traffic that is bound to be present on a Thursday night. And so, to avoid this hassel, we drove to another state: Say, “Ohio”.
TIP #2: Pack Light. When driving to another state to find the airport, it is not necessary to pack a map: They are just extra weight. Many airports are marked on highway signs, giving the traveler a clear indication of how best to get there. Of course, if the airport is not clearly indicated on road signs you may find yourself in downtown Cincinnati trying to locate an exit ramp…ANY exit ramp…that will take you out of the city and to the airport.
TIP #3: Arrive At The Airport Very, VERY Early. With new technology and increased security risks, you have more opportunities to miss your flight than ever before.
TIP #3a – Electronic Tickets. As some of you seasoned travelers are aware, airlines no longer give paper tickets. They think the electronic age improves everything. I say it just messes it up. Sure, I have a confirmation number but that doesn’t mean THEY have the same confirmation number in their system! I want my paper ticket. Send it to me in the mail. I want to walk up to a counter and slap my ticket down, confident that I have a ride that goes with the ticket! I do not want to be greeted by a person who only looks at some computer screen, taps a few keys, and screws up her face as if she’s just eaten an entire lemon. That’s always a sign of trouble. I also want to know why they hit all those keys on their computer, pause, put a puzzled look on their faces, tap a few more keys, more puzzeled looks, more keys, “Excuse me while I consult my supervisor”, more keys… Don’t do that to me! Just give me my boarding pass! It is there. You know it. I know it. A paper ticket would solve all these problems. I really think this is just a game they play to see how they can mess with the flying public. It is either that or they are playing FreeCell and can’t figure out how to get the Red Jack on the Black Queen. Either way, my reservation is another distraction to their already busy day.
TIP #3b – Beating Security. You can’t. Don’t even try. Wearing a belt? Extra-dangly ear rings? Have on some shoes? Leave a dime in your right pants pocket? Eat Iron-Fortified Cereal this morning? Then expect to be “felt up” the next time you walk through the metal detector. I can guarantee that unless you are Amish, you have something in or on your person that will set off the warning lights. Of course, if you like being groped by a 300 lb French man named Jean Pierre, then by all means, leave your watch on your arm.
To avoid all these problems, arrive with plenty of time to spare. Airlines tell you to be at the airport at least 2 hours ahead of your scheduled departure time. I say, get there 4 hours early. This is a fool-proof method of getting right through the lines and finding a seat at the gate.
TIP #4: Bring a Book. Now that you have made it to the airport 4 hours early, your boarding pass is in hand, and you have cleared security, you have 3 hours and 45 minutes left to wait for the plane to leave the gate. Sit back and relax. Soon you’ll be flying the friendly skies!