A smooth landing: 5 tips for timesaving at airports

One of the most tiring elements of air travel, particularly for frequent fliers, is the ‘getting there:’ You’re landed and taxied and fresh off your 12-hour trip from Europe; you’re keen to catch up on some much needed rest or simply to dash off to your destination, but the queue snaking off into the distance before you seems to have different ideas. There are, however, several simple ways to ensure your airport arrival is as smooth as a recline-flat first class bed; take note of these five simple tips to save yourself precious minutes – or even hours – upon arrival.

1. Almost all frequent fliers know the old adage about only packing hand luggage. But what’s the answer if you really need those extra pairs of shoes, that bulky ski outfit, or five fresh three-piece suits?  Sometimes it’s simply not practical to travel with only miniscule quantities of possessions; but to avoid interminable waits at airport carousels, consider using a luggage-management service such as Luggage Free, The Luggage Club, Luggage Concierge, or Luggage Forward, all of whom reliably deliver your suitcase to your destination door – the latter even ensuring your clothes are sweet smelling and freshly pressed upon arrival.

2. Sign up for the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry program, which allows pre-approved travelers to substantially expedite their entry into the US. As a Global Entry member, you simply go to a Global Entry kiosk upon arrival, present your passport, have your fingerprints scanned for verification, and make a customs declaration. In moments you’re issued a receipt, and you’re off to baggage claim - while those nice people you met on the plane still linger in the long, slow-moving line.  After you collect your bags, head to the exit and turn in the receipt to a CBP officer. To apply, you fill out an online application, pay a $100 application fee, and attend an interview - to which you must bring your passport and one other form of identification. See www.globalentry.gov for details.

3. Research the best route to your final destination well in advance of your flight. Consider using your hotel’s pick-up service, since there are few things as welcome in an airport arrivals hall as a neatly-written card with your name on it and a helping hand to carry your bags. If you’re not planning on heading straight to a hotel, make sure you’re already well aware of your subway, bus or taxi options, including times, fares and ticket purchase information; aimless wandering along airport concourses looking for advice on onward travel can seriously slow down the otherwise smoothest of landings.

4. Book your car rental online before you travel, and arrive at the rental counter already equipped with printed-out confirmation, along with your driver’s licence and credit card. Brush up beforehand on your car insurance options, since some rental agencies will be keen to push added insurance – sometimes called Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) - on top of basic coverage. Check whether your own auto insurance, or your credit card provider, already offers this type of rental car coverage; if not, cut straight to the chase and purchase CDW (collision damage waiver) or LDW (loss damage waiver) online in advance.

5. Finally, to ensure a well-rested arrival – and thus the ability to keep cool even when the occasional, inevitable delay or irritation occurs - choose your plane seat with extra care. Though less of a concern if you’re flying business or first class, economy seats with little leg room, unappetising galley aromas or other little inconveniences can leave you feeling frazzled even before the pilot has switched on the seat-belt sign. Several websites can help you figure out, before booking, the best seats to secure: try SeatExpert orSeatGuru for hints on bagging the choicest spot in the cabin.