If you’ve ever traveled, you know the airport experience is a time-consuming and sometimes exhausting experience. Now that we have to deal with Covid-19, the experience is even more time-consuming and exhausting.
Things you have to do to catch a flight:
- Arrive 2-3 hours before your flight.
- Find a parking space, uber, or a ride.
- Pay additional fees to check your bags.
- Stand in a long security line and take off your shoes and remove all your electronics.
- Sit at a crowded gate and wait for your boarding number to be called.
Hopefully, you’re not in the last boarding group. If you are, your flight might run out of overhead space and require you to gate-check your carry-on.
If you are or plan to become a frequent traveler, you might want to upgrade your airport experience. Here are some options.
Parking: Parking: Usually, you’ll take an uber or drive to the airport, find a spot in long-term parking, and then take a shuttle to the airport.
Consider using the Valet. Consider using the Valet. Drive right up to the airport's front door, where someone will take your bags for you and park your vehicle. And while you’re away, you can ask them to wash your car, get an oil change, or have the state inspection done. It’s all fair game.
Average cost: $35.00 per day
Security: The security lines can be the most time-consuming. Wait times can exceed an hour. This can be even worse if you’re traveling on a holiday or weekend.
If you apply for TSA pre-check or Global Entry, you will be background checked, prescreened, and later interviewed at the airport. From that point forward, you head to the TSA pre-check line whenever you go to the airport, and you are expedited through security. Keep your shoes on, your electronics in your bag, and your belt in the loops. With Global Entry, you get TSA Pre-check domestically, and you’ll go through an expedited line in customs when you travel internationally.
Costs: TSA precheck $85.00 for five years. Global Entry $100.00 for five years
Airport lounge: After you survive the security line, you have to wait for your plane at a crowded gate. Hopefully, you can find a seat. Finding a place to charge your phone is even less likely.
Why not try an airport lounge? A membership with Priority Pass gets you either discounted or free entry to airport lounges worldwide. Some lounges give you a private room; others offer free food and alcohol. They’ll also let you know when your flight is almost ready to board, so you don’t have to worry.
Cost: $99.00 a year for discounted entry. $249 a year for free entry.
Credit Cards: Many credit cards offer several travel benefits. Airline credit cards are a great option. Whatever airline you use the most, look at the credit card benefits for that airline. You’ll typically see benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, reimbursement of Global Entry fees, and sometimes a priority pass membership. Just remember to use credit cards wisely.
Your Upgraded Experience
If you use all these options, your experience will look like this. You'll drive up to the front door of the airport. Someone will collect your bags and park your car. You’ll hand in your free checked bag and breeze through the security line without removing your shoes or electronics. From there, you’ll relax in a comfortable lounge and have a bite to eat. When you're alerted that your flight is ready to board, you’ll walk to your gate and be among one of the first to board. You’ll have your pick of overhead compartment space, and when you return home, your car will be waiting for you to get in and drive off.
Sounds nice, right?