¨The problem with airports is that we go there when we need to catch a plane – and because it’s so difficult to find the way to the gate, we tend not to look around at our surroundings¨.
Alain de Botton
Airport Boarding Area Tips: An Introduction
This blog was written before the COVID Pandemic. The COVID epidemics played havoc on the travel business. In 2022, Fifty Plus Nomad decided to focus on traveling and living in Mexico and language learning posts. We will only update these long-term travel-related posts on a time-permitting basis. We would appreciate your comments and updates on these posts.
I usually take a deep, relaxing breath when I get to the airport boarding area after dealing with all the issues involving getting to the airport, check-in counters, immigration and customs, and security.
However, I know I still may have some issues boarding the plane, including not finding a good place to stow my carry-on bags, waiting a long time to board a plane (though I try to avoid the lineups as much as possible), moving several times to get to the final departure gate,
One of the best ways to avoid significant problems in the boarding area, particularly on connecting flights, is to allow yourself enough time, especially internationally, so you don’t have to run after your flight or miss your flight.
Fifty Plus Nomads should anticipate and develop strategies to avoid problems when boarding a flight. When we are blessed to travel around the world and live abroad for long periods, we tend to forget about life’s inconveniences. However, simply boarding a flight can consume your spirit and occasionally cost money and hassle. Here are a few simple strategies to consider to avoid problems.
Make The Most Out of Your Time and Money in the Airport Boarding Area and On-Board the Airplane
- Many people bring snacks from home to avoid food costs at the airport. While I know they are smart, I want to eat (and sometimes drink) once I pass through security. It is a ritual that I will not give up for the cost savings. After all the work involved in getting to the boarding area, I need a breather.
- Fifty-Plus Nomads may want to join an airline’s club through a premium credit card. Sometimes, airlines offer generous frequent flyer mile bonuses for signing up for their clubs. Some airline club amenities (mainly for business and first-class passengers) are excellent, though many, particularly in the US, only offer free (or low-cost) alcoholic drinks and snacks. If you have a home base, you may consider signing up for club membership with the most extensive presence at your home airport.
- Some airports also offer free or low-cost amenities to the public, including small museum exhibitions, gardens, and even a free cinema.
- Here are some of Easy Jet’s staff recommendations, USA Today, Wikihow’s, and Reader’s Digest tips for successfully boarding a flight and being comfortable onboard the plane.
Check Airport Monitors Frequently
Check the monitors for your gate number at the airport frequently up to one hour before departure. Airlines love to change the departure gate. Some airports, like Cancun, do not announce the departure gates until one hour before the scheduled departure to avoid gate changes. Airlines usually announce the gate changes over the Public Announcement (PA) System. However, please don’t count on it. Occasionally, you cannot hear the announcements. (LAX has a terrible PA system).
One time the airline changed the departure gate on me four times over five hours. Another time, at Miami airport, the airline changed the gate to the opposite end. It took me almost 45 minutes to arrive at the new gate. Thankfully, I caught the gate change while I had time to get to the new gate before departure.
Boarding a Flight Without Hassle
Increasingly airlines begin boarding the plane between thirty and forty-five minutes before departure. While you do not have to board when the airline calls your group, it is best to do so that you can put your carry-on baggage on the plane quickly.
I have Delta, American Airlines, and United Airline Credit Cards. One card perk is that I can board the aircraft before many other passengers to avoid finding a place for my carry-on baggage. (This benefit is less valuable on flights between two airport hubs, like Denver and Houston on United, because there are numerous Frequent Flyers).
Want Some Additional Airport Tips?
Here is a highly detailed list of airport tips.