How to skip the airport queues

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.


Security
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.

Customs
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.

Boarding
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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Saving time at the airport
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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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