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Holiday Travel Checklist (Part 2): What to Do After Arriving at the Airport

Holiday Travel Checklist (Part 2): What to Do After Arriving at the Airport


You made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Now there’s just one more hurdle before boarding the flight to your holiday getaway—getting you to the gate on time.

Last year, the industry group Airlines for America predicted that 38 million people would fly on U.S. carriers from the week before Christmas through New Year’s Day, and the figure has been climbing each year. That means a lot of travelers will be in the same position as you this holiday season—looking anxiously at the long lines for security screening.

Here are some tips for getting through security quickly. By doing your part to keep things moving, you’ll be a hero to everyone in line behind you.
  1. When you arrive at the airport, check the departure screens to make sure that your flight is on time, and double check the gate from which you’ll be leaving. Things could have changed since you checked in for your flight the day before.
  2. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to do tasks yourself that used to be done by airline customer service representatives. For example, some carriers have passengers go to a kiosk to check—and possibly pay—for their checked bags and print out their own luggage tag before bringing it to the airline ticket counter to be loaded onto the plane.
  3. If the security line to your gate looks long, ask a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) representative about alternate screening locations. Those locations may involve a longer walk to the gate but could be significantly less crowded. Weigh the pros and cons and decide which works best for you.
  4. Remember that unless you have been pre-approved by TSA for expedited screening via TSA Precheck—those with TSA Precheck do not need to remove shoes or take laptop computers, liquids, or gels out of their hand luggage—the standard screening requires passengers to remove coats, belts, shoes, and metal objects, along with laptops and the 1-quart bag of 3.4-ounce liquids that’s allowed in carry-ons.
  5. To save time and to be courteous to other travelers, be sure to take everything out of your pockets—coins, keys, and phone—and place them in your carry-on before you even reach the screening line. The same goes for your belt. And don’t forget to empty beverages that you’ve left in your carry-on. (You can’t bring a bottle of water through the checkpoint but you can bring an empty bottle and fill it up once you’re through security.)
  6. When you enter the security line, have your boarding pass and identification out and ready for inspection. Groups or family members traveling together should make sure that each individual is holding his or her ID and boarding pass. It slows down the process if the TSA official has to match each traveler with the right documents. If you’re traveling with small children, present your ID and boarding pass first, then the boarding pass for each child.
  7. Finally, speaking of phones, it’s easy to get distracted by them when you’re waiting in a long line. When you get close to the front of the line, remember to look up and pay close attention to the instructions from TSA officials. That’ll help move everything along quickly and efficiently.

For help planning a trip over the holidays, or at any time of year, contact your number one travel agency, Travel Leaders COS.

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