Loren Christie's simple tips to skip lines, ease stress
Air travellers wait with their luggage to try and board a Virgin Atlantic flight for London, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, in Delhi, India, Thursday, April 22, 2010. (AP / Gurinder Osan)
Published Friday, April 23, 2010 9:02AM EDT
For the hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded in the airports because of the volcanic ash cloud, the last ten days have been an exercise in patience. Under normal circumstances, here are some simple things you can do to skip the lines, save time and ease the stress:
- Embrace technology: check-in on line before you arrive at the airport. Print off your boarding pass or just have your boarding pass sent to your PDA if your airline offers that option.
- Travel light: if you can, bring only carry on bags….helps avoid the baggage line.
- Buy business: if you can afford it….think about it. There are discounts for business out there right now. A business class ticket will give you those "skip-the-line" privileges for at least one flight.
- Keep track of your status: make sure you are building up your points. Elite status with Aeroplan for example, gives you preferred check-in, preferred boarding access and in larger airports like Toronto or London, you can go through security in a special fast track lane.
- Up-grade your credit card: If you don't have enough points to get status. You can get some of the perks mentioned above through credit cards like the American Express Aeroplan Plus Platinum. It's not cheap…$499 annual fee…but it gives you priority check-in and access to the priority security lane, among many other perks.
If you are a frequent traveler to the United States, think about applying for a Nexus card. It's a bi-national pre-approved customs and immigration pass. You can apply online for it. Once you are initially approved you must go for a personal interview with customs and immigration. The cards are valid for five years and are available at a cost of $50.
Being a member of a hotel loyalty program is a great way to secure faster check in. Many hotels have VIP check-in areas for their preferred guests. As well, guests with high level status can often check-in before they even arrive and skip having to present photo ID and supplying their credit card on arrival.
To gain quick access to museums and attractions, check and see if they have an in-house restaurant. Make a reservation for lunch or dinner and you may be able to skip the ticket line.
Consider paying for a fast track option. Many larger attractions, like Disney theme parks, offer this "pay-to-avoid-the-crowds" service.
Loren Christie appears regularly on Canada AM. If you have a travel question, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.