¨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 bagswaiting 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

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).

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Want Some Additional Airport Tips?

Check out these valuable posts from GEICO, Reader’s Digest, Claim Compass, and Travel and Leisure.

Here is a highly detailed list of airport tips.

Additional Long-Term Travel Posts From Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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