These days, getting from the airport door to your plane can take longer than your flight. To speed up your journey, try these steps:
- Avoid long check-in lines by using the new airline ticketing kiosks. With the swipe of a credit card, the kiosk finds your reservation, asks about seat assignments or upgrades, then prints your boarding pass. Airlines eager for travelers to use these labor-saving devices offer frequent-flier-mile bonuses to early adopters.
- Know when to walk or to take a train, tram or bus between airport buildings. At giant airport hubs like Atlanta, Denver or Pittsburgh, taking the high-speed trains between terminals, to gates or to baggage claim is a must. Get airport navigation tips before you arrive.
- Pack your carry-on as if a "random" inspection is a sure thing. Use zip-lock or mesh bags for loose items like socks, underwear or toiletries. For bulkier clothing, consider shrink-packing. Most luggage stores carry airtight, clear plastic bags of various sizes that allow you to pack items first and then squeeze or vacuum out excess air.
- Wear slip-on shoes; leave behind (or pack) shoes with metal toes, shanks, heels or studs. Choose clothing with plastic or wooden (or no) buttons, clasps, zippers or ornamentation, instead of metal, which will set off detectors and cause delays.
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Christopher McGinnis, travel correspondent for CNN Headline News, is the author of The Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.