How to move quickly through almost every airport queue

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Even though it’s a thrill to begin any journey, it’s always a drag to start your holiday standing in a long line waiting to check in.

In fact, if you added up all the time you spent waiting while on holidays, in airport lines, queues for tourist traps, concerts, events, museums, galleries, or even just for the woman hogging the toaster at the breakfast buffet, you’d probably be able to regain a day of travel time.

So, these tips for getting through the thick of airport queues will at least recoup some precious travel time for you. Although it won’t prevent that woman from putting her wholemeal bread through for a second pass in the toaster.

Bag check
It may seem obvious, but the simplest way to beat this queue is to only travel with carry-on. We’ve got some killer tips on how to travel with just carry-on bags, but if you need to take a bigger bag, here’s how to bypass the bag line. Depending on the country you visit, most airports will have a version of what the Yanks call ‘skycaps’. For a small fee, they meet you at you at your taxi, take your bags for you and check you in, ensuring that your bag makes its destination. In Australia, it’s called VIP Airport Meet & Assist service. You book it online and they’ll get you through the bag check and may even fast track you through customs.

Check in
Most airlines now have self-serve check-in units, but you can also check in online. Your airline will most likely have its own app, which will provide check-in options as well as the ability to change seats, flights and order any extras you may require. Check it out, download it and save a heap of time at check-in. And if you need to check bags, see above.

There’s no way around security lines, but you can scoot through if you sign up for a TSA PreCheck, which works in all US airports and a few around the world. Otherwise, follow our guidelines for quickly skipping through security lines and you’ll be on your way in no time.

Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, SmartGate, NEXUS, SASTrack and other fast track security services will help you move through customs quicker than the rest of the pack. Contact your departure and destination airport and see which one will get you through fastest.

Lining up to board is your choice. Your seat will not magically disappear, and most times, there will still be enough room in the overhead locker to store your bag. So, sit back and relax and let the others pile into the plane like sheep.

Your other move is to pay for advanced check in, which most airlines offer. Your frequent flyer program or credit card may also have certain perks that allow you to check in early.

Rental car
This one requires a pre-signup process. Whether you’re hiring a car from Budget, Hertz or wherever, sign up to its rewards program and all your details will be stored. Just pre-book your car online and when you arrive, you’ll be directed to a car that’s fuelled up and ready to drive away. Some companies have car-hire kiosks, which will also help you skip the line.

Rebooking lines
If your flight is cancelled, delayed or you’ve missed a connecting flight, don’t line up in the rebooking line, simply call the airline’s customer service number and do it over the phone.

Do you have any tips for skipping airport lines? Why not share them with our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 13
  1. 0

    If you fly business class its always easier but do you want to spend all that money? They have dedicated check in lines, and security via the guest lounge. Its worth splurging on a really long flight, but its up to the individual how they spend their hard earned money or their super.

    • 0

      Of course business class is worth the extra money!

      From your reply above, it seems you have a very narrow view of what business class really offers.

      It’s not just the easier check in & bag drop, it’s a seat to yourself, a lie-flat bed, a better menu, and for someone like me who needs that little bit of extra assistance, it’s first boarding, and last but not least, you have access to lounges – either the airline’s or an affiliate airline’s where if you arrive early, you can have a meal and a relaxing massage before you board your flight.

      Then then there’s the ‘Revival Lounge’ at the end of your journey where you can have a nice relaxing shower, another massage, and a full breakfast before you leisurely go on your way. for me it’s to the tube station and a train to my accommodation.

      I’ve researched BA’s AirPortr and it costs GBP30 for your first bag and GBP10 for every bag after that to get your luggage from the airport to your first night’s accommodation, and the same for your return journey from your hotel to the airport.

  2. 0

    I get wheelchair assistance!

  3. 0

    I do need it.

  4. 0

    Overhead lockers? That is the prime reason to get into the first half of the line as sometimes people fron other seats fill YOUR space. The fault of the airlines who do not control carry on when they are loading. It’s a rea lottery.

  5. 0

    I agree with you Mick the size of some of the carry on bags is in my opinion way to large taking up more room than necessary,airlines must be more stringent with size & weight will save a lot of angst with other passengers.

    • 0

      It’s not just about the size. Nor is there a space actually provided for each seat. If you check, you will notice that there are usually only 2 spaces provided for every 3 seats. There’s the problem created by the stingy airlines!

  6. 0

    TSA precheck is not available for Australians. U.S. citizens, U.S. Nationals and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) are eligible for the application.
    Same with Global Entry. Lots of other citizens can , so worth checking if you are of dual nationality.

    • 0

      There are a few pollies who might qualify. lol

    • 0

      When I went to the US last February for a Genealogy conference, Delta Airlines gave me TSA Pre-Check on my internal flights. It was printed on my boarding passes. I have no idea why, but it might have been because I booked W class (Extra Comfort) seats. It sure made life a bit easier getting thru TSA security.

      Virgin didn’t give it to me at LAX for my flight home, even though I was in Biz Class, but a nice TSA lady spotted me with my walking stick and pulled me out of the long line and took me to the Pre-Check area.

      So Aussies can get it – in certain circumstances it would appear.

  7. 0

    “For a small fee, they meet you at you at your taxi, take your bags for you and check you in, ensuring that your bag makes its destination. In Australia, it’s called VIP Airport Meet & Assist service”
    Small fee! US$330 (Brisbane to Launceston), wow that’s really small (for some!)

    • 0

      That aint a small fee. I have had wonderful help overseas when requiring “assistance”. I’ve been so well looked after. In fact nothing has been too much trouble. By the way the worst queue (before I needed help) was Milan. The business class queue was longer than economy, the amount of hand luggage people were wanting to take on board was totally ridiculous, people trying to push their way to the head of the queue as they were convinced they were going to miss their plane – we were all in line for the same plane – and we took off only 1/2 an hour late. Pretty good for Italy!!!

  8. 0

    I won’t rent a car again. Not after what I went thru in London in 2013.

    If I go to the UK again, I’ll be purchasing a cheap car and leaving it with the rellies when I leave to come home. BTW, I don’t go for just a few weeks, it’s 12 weeks max, so a rental car is too expensive.



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