So many versions of this article have been written by so many publications that it’s hard to find any new, useful information to share with our readers. You mean I should get there early? Thanks! Still, I can tell you from many years spent in Customer Care that what would seem to be standard airport travel knowledge simply isn’t. Because we all need the occasional reminder and it’s our busy summer travel season, here’s a new spin on some tried-and-true tips.
Be extremely aware of what you are packing in your luggage. Aviation security is strict and every bag is carefully screened. To avoid a situation at pre-board passenger security, it’s best to leave your stylish grenade-shaped belt buckle, bullet necklace or dynamite-shaped alarm clock at home. (These are actual items retrieved by CATSA agents at YVR.) For more specifics, check out this CATSA guide, which clearly outlines all rules including size restrictions for liquids, aerosols and gels. (NO WATER BOTTLES, PEOPLE). Hopefully the traveller who’s planning to tote along a large can of hairspray and an even larger coffee will read this and think twice.
Recruiting some poor soul to drop you off to the airport is like asking people to help you move. They don’t want to do it, but they will for fear of needing the same help in the future. Stop the cycle of resentment by exploring transportation alternatives. The Canada Line is an amazingly cost-effective and efficient way to travel to the airport. Whether you’re coming or going, the Canada Line leaves every six minutes during peak times, and taxis are always available on Level 2 outside both International and Domestic Arrivals. If you must drive, make sure you find the best parking option available for your needs at YVR. JetSet parking has discount rates all the time and Aeroplan incentives to boot. Most importantly, have a game plan and execute.
*We of course welcome all travellers to get rides to and from the airport, just offering some transportation alternatives in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Travellers, use the kiosks. There’s a reason passengers used them to print 3.6 million boarding passes in 2012: they save time. Checking in, tagging and dropping your bag on the belt yourself accomplishes two things. First, you get to your gate faster. Second, it allows airline agents to assist passengers who actually have a specific need. Oversized baggage, a ticketing issue or checking in a pet are all reasons somebody would have to go to the counter. By automating your check-in, you help increase the odds of an on-time departure – something you, the airline and the airport all want.
With pre-board screening, preparation is key. Shoes off, metallic accessories removed, laptop in tray, boarding pass in hand. But it’s the unprepared travellers ahead of you that can throw a wrench in your plans. Playing line-up roulette can increase your odds of a smooth screening. Look for no-nonsense business travellers. They are guaranteed to negotiate the line with more speed than a pair of novice backpackers or a family with hordes of young children. One last thing: make sure you don’t leave anything behind at screening. YVR’s Lost and Found performs daily pick-ups of everything from laptops and cash to wedding rings and sunglasses.
You’ve made it! Now’s the time to fill up your empty water bottle (a good packing idea), grab a snack and crack the spine on that beach read or magazine. There’s always a shoe shine, some light shopping, email catch-up courtesy of our free Wi-Fi or – my favourite – people watching. Before TV had 734 channels, many locals would pack up and visit the airport to simply people-watch. The airport is a nexus of the human experience, with individuals from all walks of life converging under one roof. Who’s visiting a long-lost relative? Who’s about to sign a multi-million dollar business deal? Who’s en route to a white sandy beach? Enjoy the show.
Everyone has their own strategy for the boarding process – crowd around anxiously at the desk, try to jump the alphabetical queue, ignore all announcements, etc. Unless you’re pre-boarding, I recommend simply waiting until the end of the process to board the aircraft. American Airlines recently began letting people carrying only a personal item board after its premier class and before general boarding, a process the airline says saves up to two minutes per flight.
What’s your favourite airport travel tip? Share them here. Wishing you safe travels.