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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why You Should Arrive Early - Advice from The Cranky Flier

Words by Jennifer Stein
Words by Brett SnyderI’m going to stray a bit from wedding advice today and instead use something that’s helpful on a broader scope. If you’re flying and it’s an important trip, time is your best friend. Yes, this certainly applies to destination wedding travel, but it is also useful advice for the holiday season.

One of my least favorite holiday traditions is the media hype leading up to the busy travel days. We saw it this year at Thanksgiving and we’ll undoubtedly see it again as Christmas approaches. You know what I’m talking about: The local news sends some low-level reporter out to stand at the check-in curb and document any sort of line so that he or she can claim the sky is falling, flights are delayed, people are being ripped from the bosoms of their impending family celebrations.

The reality is that the pain and suffering never lives up to the hype. Sure, there are delays and more inexperienced travelers are flying than usual, but the airlines and the TSA staff up for this. Consequently, things tend to move pretty well. The TSA does amp up security at this time of the year, but be prepared for that, as in all things.

So does that mean you should treat it like a flight on a random Wednesday at noon? Nah, give yourself some extra time. First of all, it will relieve stress. Get to the airport two hours early even for a domestic flight, and if the lines are long it won’t matter. If you get through quickly, bring your laptop and log on. Or just hang out and read the latest vampire novel while you wait for your flight.

If you can, you should also book a flight that arrives early. What do I mean by that? If you have to be somewhere at 6p on Friday, maybe you don’t want to book a flight arriving at 530pm. Try to leave a buffer so that if things do run late, you’re still in good shape.

You may not have complete flexibility for this level of planning, but it’s certainly worthwhile if you’re stressed and it’s an important occasion. Some things are worth taking an extra couple hours out of your day to make sure they go seamlessly.

For more on The Cranky Flier, click here.

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