You’ve been waiting months for your relaxing summer vacay! Your new bags are packed, you’re racing through airport security lines to your gate, only for the worst to happen – you’ve just missed your flight! Your heart sinks as you see the plane taking off without you! 🙁
This scenario sound familiar?
If you’ve taken the “I missed my flight” walk of shame, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that about 70,000 travelers have missed their flights this year alone due to excessive weight time through security and not timing their flights.
Here are some helpful ways to make sure you don’t miss that flight. And in the event you know you’re not going to make it in time, read on for a sneaky insider tip that airlines don’t want you to know about…
Early Bird or Bust
For domestic travel, airlines recommend that you show up at least two hours before your flight. With travel especially heavy during the summer months, expect longer than usual weight times through airport security. While sitting at your gate might not be the thrill you’re looking for, it sure beats running panicked through security trying to make your flight. Save yourself some stress and give yourself plenty of time.
Case in point: Denver International Airport, our local airport, is now recommending for travelers to arrive three hours prior to takeoff, instead of the customary two hours! This warning is due in part to TSA staff shortages as well as expected record crowds at the airport over the summer.
Note: You must be checked in 30 minutes before the flight departs, otherwise you’ll be saying bon voyage to all the other passengers leaving on your flight. However, just because you’re checked in doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to make it through security. So, plan ahead!
To view security wait times at a particular airport, go to the TSA website and enter in your airport code.
In most scenarios, it no longer makes sense to drive to the airport. Parking is expensive, transportation from lot to airport is sometimes unreliable, and lots fill up leaving you with plan b scenarios that take up precious time. Almost all major airports now are serviced by rideshare companies, including Uber and Lyft. These services often cost a fraction of what a normal taxi service commands, so suddenly getting a ride out to the airport makes financial sense, especially when you factor in the convenience of getting dropped off at the entrance of the airport!
However, do be mindful of the fact that these rideshare companies have “surge” pricing, so you could find yourself in a bind if it gets busy because then you will have to commit to paying 2x-3x times your original ride price. This normally happens during peak times of the day during rush hour, so if you are off-peak you should be safe.
Carry vs Check
Traveling with carry-on bags will help get you to your gate faster and lessen the chance of a missed flight. Sure, you won’t be able to bring that jumbo-sized bottle of sunscreen as you head to the beach, but not having to deal with long lines at the airline counters will alleviate stress at the start of your trip. If you MUST check, we recommend doing curbside. Curbside isn’t as popular so you shouldn’t have as long of a line to get through.
Ever see those happy travelers sailing their way through the security line while you’re stuck feeling like a piece of cattle with the masses? Those savvy travelers have taken advantage of TSA Pre✓®. TSA Pre✓® is a faster screening program commonly used by business professionals or individuals who travel a lot throughout the year. If you’re eligible and approved for the program, you’ll be able to glide right through security. Go on, strut your savvy self to the front of the line!
Some of the airlines are also starting to test faster lines. Delta just launched an Innovation Lanes experiment at the Atlanta airport. The idea is to move bags and people through the line together in a parallel process and cut out some of the tasks that keep TSA busy, including moving empty bins back to the front of the line. Look for processes like this to open up at airports near you!
What if You Still Happen to Miss Your Flight…?
Unfortunately, not all airlines are accommodating to travelers who miss their flights. Sure, airlines can bump, delay or cancel your flight without batting an eye, but you miss ONE flight and suddenly there’s nothing that can be done.
We rolled up our sleeves and found a sneaky savvy alternative for avoiding insane fees for booking a new flight. Enter, the flat tire rule.
Rumor on the web has it that some airlines, like Southwest and American Airlines, will honor the flat tire rule. A flat tire is a mechanical problem out of your control (which is the same lingo they use when bumping or delaying flights). Participating airlines don’t openly advertise this option, but if push comes to shove, consider it your get out of jail free card. If you know you’re going to miss your flight, call the airline at least ten minutes before your departure time claiming a flat tire. You’ll be able to find a new flight without additional charges or use of airline points. Tah-dah!
Keeping these tips in mind for a fool-proof flight, we wish you safe travels this summer!