In this post-September 11th age, check-in and security line-ups have gotten longer and more time-consuming. But if you know what to expect and are organized, you can drastically reduce the time you spend at the airport.
Express check-in kiosks
Why wait in long line-ups for your boarding pass when you can have a machine check you in within minutes? Air Canada introduced their Express Check in kiosks in 1999 and has expanded this service to eight cities across Canada.
"It really comes down to reducing the time spent in the airport process," says Laura Cooke, a spokesperson for Air Canada. "We know the kiosks reduce the check-in time up to 80 per cent."
The kiosk uses touch-screen technology, hooked into the main Air Canada reservation system, to let you bypass the traditional check-in lineup. Using your credit card or Aeroplan card for identification purposes, you can check-in, obtain your boarding pass, select your seating, stand-by for an earlier flight or receive your connecting boarding pass if travelling on to another city. Passengers with baggage must select the amount of checked luggage they are carrying and then proceed to the Express Baggage Drop-off counter to have them tagged.
Cooke says travellers to the United States will also have to provide their passport number and the address where they will be staying — both can be inputted at the kiosk as well.
Check with your airline to see if they are using similar methods of technology to hasten the check-in process.
Cooke suggests the following timeline as a general rule.
• For domestic flights: arrive at the airport one hour before departure time.
• For flights to the United States: give yourself an hour and a half to accommodate increased security checks.
• For international flights: arrive a minimum of two hours before the flight time.
Many people forget to factor in the time spent going through security checks. "Always make sure you get to the airport within plenty of time for security," says Cooke.
To ensure you are complying with the security rules, check your airline's Web site for a list of what you can bring in your luggage. If you pack properly, you can avoid having to re-organize your bag in the check-in or security line.
Carry all of your documents in one folder — you could be asked to show your passport, birth certificate, airline ticket and boarding pass at any time. Keeping everything in one place ensures you will not waste time searching through your bags.
• Know the limitations when it comes to your baggage allowance on flights. Different airlines have different policies, so consult your flight ticket or airline agent for the proper conditions.
• Weigh your bag before you get to the airport to avoid over packing.
• Place identification tickets and tags on your luggage before you get to the airport.