Next week will mark the second week since my role changed at work that I won’t be getting on an airplane. The weekly travel this summer combined with a lot of travel the last few years and I finally have advice to give. From one road warrior to another….
1. Monday morning flights at O’Hare are commuter flights full of business people with status. I’m talking about the 6am to 8am flights, not the 9am to 11 am flights. I regularly fly at 6am on Mondays and have learned to skip the premier check-in lines and go to the regular security line. Nobody flies at 6am on a Monday unless they’ve earned some miles, so go to the line where business travelers aren’t.
1a. Go down to security line 3 if you’re in Terminal 1. It doesn’t have a status line, but since it’s “so far” from the kiosks, people don’t go. Even if the TSA staff isn’t there yet, say at 5:15am, it may be worth getting in the forming queue and waiting for the station to open.
2. The airline will gate check your bag for free, so check it at the gate. This assumes you have just your rolling bag (of legal carry-on size) and a laptop bag. As you board, let them know you will happily gate check. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting bin space, but you did it for free.
3. At LGA, there is no food or anywhere decent to hang after you go through security and flights are always delayed. Better to park yourself at a bar, watch your flight info on your phone and then head when it is actually going to board.
4. Minneapolis is the nicest airport. Get there early and go to the wine bar for a flight of wine and a pannini. High ceilings, good restaurants – it is my favorite airport. Arriving in MPLS on a morning flight? Get your coffee before you go to baggage check. Coffee can be hard to find in Minneapolis.
5. LAX has security lines on the second floor coming from the parking garage that are generally MUCH faster than the security on the ground floor.
6. Fly Porter in and out of Toronto at least once to experience what it must have been like to fly on PanAm during their heyday. Also, Porter has a separate security line that is SUPER fast in Midway.
7. When you are returning from Canada, many airports do US Passport control after security, plan an extra hour for check-in.
8. If you realize a certain item of clothing sets off the alarms (hello, underwire) stop insisting on wearing it. I now have a bra that I only wear on airport days.
9. You can almost always change your seat on the airline’s website, so make sure you double check and move to your preferred section. (Hello, aisle!). Especially when you don’t have status with the airline.
10. Keep track of your loyalty accounts. I just had to merge THREE Starwood Guest Reward accounts because I kept forgetting and opening another. Oops.
How’s that for some road warrior advice? Feel free to add your tips in the comments.