Airport Planning

This may seem like obvious advice but it never ceases to amaze me how many times travelers create anxiety for themselves with poor planning. The airlines are not model citizens of customer service but there is some basic planning you can do to ensure as smooth an international trip as possible.

Aircraft seating – Be sure to book your exact seat as soon as it becomes available. Every airline is different so be sure to know what your carrier permits. Take a look as for advise on the preferred seats…not all seats are created equally, even in the same cabin!

Documents – Be sure your passport is valid for a number of months after you return from your trip. Every country seems to apply different requirements. South Africa for example requires a number of blank pages in your passport, if you do not have they will bar you from entry! You can also enter your passport data into your reservation on line to speed up your process at the airport. The airlines must share this data in advance with various entities due to security regulations.

Check-In Online – Go online and print out your boarding passes at home before heading to the airport. If you are dropping luggage off you may get another boarding pass but in some instances it will help you, e.g. if you get delayed in a check-in line at the airport and miss a deadline (30 to 60 minutes before a flight) you can still head to the gate through security.

At the Airport – Give yourself a reasonable amount of time. Every airport is slightly different, e.g. Wilmington, NC where I live is materially different than Atlanta, GA my former hometown. Somewhere between 60 – 120 minutes is probably wise. Slightly more if you are originating on an international flight as opposed to taking a domestic flight to make the international connection.

Luggage – Most airlines now prohibit luggage over 50lbs in weigh or charge a substantial penalty. Be sure you are not trying to check in luggage that is well over the limit and are repacking in front of the desk! A calming experience!

Lounge Access – Be aware before you go to the airport if you have lounge access and where it is. Is it before or after security. What amenities does it offer. Is is a great place to relax before boarding the flight.

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+