Don’t Miss Your Flight – Timing Can be Everything

Have you ever missed a flight? You do not want that to happen, ever. Scheduling your own flight or if have a professional helping you, you may want to have a few tips to follow.

 

Getting to the Airport on Time

 

Did you book a flight at 6 am? Did you think about what it will take to make that 6 am flight?

 

There is a good possibility you will have to leave at 3 in the morning; between the distance you live from the airport, traffic, be sure to know what terminal your flight is leaving from, is it a domestic flight (1 to 2 hours early to the airport) or international (2 to 3 hours early), allow time to check-in and then the dreaded security line – how long will it be, and how fast will it be going.

 

Always a wonderful feeling when you make it on-board your flight.

Always a wonderful feeling when you make it on-board your flight.

Take the time to think about the variables of getting to the airport and to your gate on time.

 

Tip: when I am flying internationally, because I live over an hour from the airport, I normally stay at a hotel at or very close to the airport; usually a hotel that has a shuttle service to the airport.

 

True story: when we were in Hong Kong we got on an elevator to go back up to our room and there was a man that got on with us. He looked upset/sad, so my husband started talking to him. Come to find out that his family’s flight from Hong Kong to the UK was at 12 am – he made the mistake of thinking that was 12 – noon. It was the exact opposite it was 12 midnight. Big problem. He missed his flight and was unsure how he and his family were going to get back home to the UK.

 

Sidenote: be sure you know what airline you are flying. That seems clear-cut but with all the “code shares” that airlines do you may not be flying the airline you thought you were. We had a flight from San Diego to Italy, with a plane change in New York. We not only had to change planes we had to change terminals, find the next airline our flight was on, go through their check-in process, and go through security again all before we got close to the gate we were leaving from. Don’t let this be a surprise, know before you go.

 

Connections

 

When I book a flight I always allow at least one hour between domestic flights and two and a half to three hours if you have to go through customs. Things to think about – is your next flight in the same terminal, do you need to buy food so you don’t starve, and do you have to go through customs (see below for more on customs).

True story: we were coming home from Orlando, Florida, and we had a connection in Houston. As we are landing the flight attendant came on and asked if everyone could remain seated to let five passengers off first – “they were holding a plane for them.” I was amazed but everyone cooperated, great people on our flight. But then the FA said, “ (our last name) don’t hurry your flight has already left.”

 

Yes we did spend the night in Houston. In your carry-on, have the things you need to make long delays or the unexpected over night stay bearable. If you take medications please have at least one or two days in your bag. Other things like power supplies, books, snacks, the phone number of the person who is suppose to pick you up – call them as soon as you know you are going to be late, hair brush, tooth brush (you can usually buy toothpaste at most hotels), and an extra shirt to name a few. We never did see our bags till we landed in San Diego the next day, so be prepared for delays.

 

If you want to think a little deeper you might want to take into consideration if you are flying during the winter and have a choice between changing planes in Denver or Dallas, which one would you pick? Probably not Denver.

 

Tip: if you have difficultly walking you should ask for wheelchair assistance. This can save you a lot of time and often will get you to the front of the line. Plus the person who is your wheelchair chauffer most likely knows the quickest way to get to your next flight.

 

Customs

In my experience, going through customs never goes fast so don’t count on it. Don’t think that coming home and going through US customs will be fast either. I like to allow around three hours between landing, going through customs, rechecking bags and catching my next flight.

 

True story: last year we flew from Paris to London, and then we had a non-stop from London to San Diego. In London, we did not have to go through “customs” but we did have to go through two security check-points before getting to our gate. We only had an hour between flights, which we barely made. I had asked our travel agent about only having an hour and she assured me it was plenty of time. Well it was very stressful and going through security “twice” was a real hassle. If I had it to do over again I would have tried to take an earlier flight from Paris to London.

 

Tip: if you do need to change terminals at some airports there are shuttles that you can take without having to go through security again. They often are not clearly marked, so if you can research the airport in advance that could save you a lot of time.

 

Sometimes you have little choice about what flights you take; then you have to make the most of it. Just be aware of what it might take to get to that next flight – On Time.

 

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