Check with the airline for an update on your flight times before leaving for the airport. This precaution could save you hours of waiting, if weather conditions are poor or delays are prevalent. Checking directly with the airline is the best plan for obtaining the most accurate information. Always allow plenty of extra time to make it to the airport, even though you are familiar with the "normal" time. Flights running late will mean an even more crowded airport, longer lines and cranky, unhappy customers and airline personnel. Try to arrive at least 30 - 60 minutes earlier than you would if everything went perfectly ! It only takes one missed flight to ruin your entire trip.
Look over the layout of the airport and your airline's location in advance of flight day, to be sure of where you need to go.
If available, use curbside or off-airport check-in or electronic ticket machines. You may be able to avoid long lines at the ticket counter. Curbside check-in is not normally permitted for international travel, including domestic origination flights, due to security concerns. Always carry extra reading material or other forms of entertainment in your carry-on bag for the times when you just can’t avoid the delays.
Ask the airline agent to note in the computer that you are going to arrive later, due to the later departure time. They may still recommend that you go to the airport at the normal departure time in the event that the flight may be available sooner than anticipated.
Stay updated and allow plenty of extra time to arrive at the airport well before the flight is ready to depart. Late flights cause an even more crowded airport, longer lines unhappy people and general chaos.
If you feel that the flight is late, but the airline does not acknowledge your fear, proceed to the airport anyway. Though you may still have to wait, you wont chance forfeiting your rights to the reservation, by being a late check-in.
Don't forget to update car rental and hotel reservations. Call and let them know that you’ll be later then scheduled. It will save the disaster of losing that room or car if you don't show up at the original time.
Airports are big, crowded and confusing. Be extra careful when arranging to meet someone in, or in front of, an airport.
Give them your complete flight information (time of arrival, airline, flight number etc.) so that they can stay current if the flight is delayed.
Warn them not to depart for the airport until they have an update concerning your flight’s status. Airlines cannot divulge whether you are or are not on the plane. They can't even confirm that you bought a ticket. They will, however, update anyone asking the arrival time of particular flights.
Learn the airport’s web site and share the web address with whomever's meeting you. This allows both of you to see the airport’s layout and choose a good place to meet.
When agreeing on a place to meet, be as specific as possible. Being too generic or general in your choice may have you looking for each other in a huge, crowded and confusing place. Remember, most airports have multiple terminals and therefore numerous passenger pickup locations.
Tightened security may prohibit them from waiting for you in their car in the pick up area. They may need to park or keep circling until you are available to meet them.
Never plan to meet at the gate. Airlines allow only ticketed passengers past security. You might consider meeting at a location that is off airport property, such as a restaurant or hotel. If tight security makes it difficult this could be an easier alternative. Exchange cell phone and pager numbers, if you have them. This will help you reach each other when you are both at the airport. Otherwise, you could be a few hundred feet away and not be aware of it, if the airport is crowded. Cell phones and pagers must be turned off on the plane, but can be used once you're on the ground. You might want to wait to call until you have your luggage and are ready to be picked up. This will eliminate parking or circling.
Necessary ? Maybe. Recommended ? Definitely ! It's always smart to confirm your reservation directly with the airline. This is especially true if someone else to booked it for you. Re-confirming before returning home is also a good idea, especially on international trips. This allows the airline the chance to update any time changes, equipment substitutions or other flight information for you. It can eliminate surprises and help avoid disappointment. Verify all your ticket information before departure time. That includes the spelling of your name and your contact numbers. At that time you can confirm that any special requests have been made.
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