Arrive about 2 hours before the flight is departing. Monday morning and Friday afternoon is when most business travelers are flying, so there are more people there. The more travelers, the longer all lines will be.
Have your ID ready, you will be asked for it when you get to the desk. Having to dig in a purse or wallet wastes your time and mine if I am standing behind you. Don't bury it back in the wallet or purse, because it will be needed again. There are several more efficient ways to check in:
- Most airlines allow online check in 24 hours before the flight (on the internet), how many bags you are checking, and print out the boarding pass. When you get to the airport, they may have a special lane for that, and it is the quickest.
- Most airlines have a "self check-in" where you can use a kiosk to print a boarding pass and then they call you forward to check the luggage.
- Because of smartphones, check in using it to speed up both of the above points. Make sure the battery is charged, it sucks when you get halfway to security and it can't scan the code. Start over.
- Do not put a lock on the zippers of checked bags. You will be asked to unlock them, or they will be cut off when going through security.
The most hated part of getting to the gate is the security line. Feels like cattle in a corral on the the way to slaughter. The longest wait, like waiting in line for a roller coaster. This is why you show up early, especially on busy days.
- Keep your ID handy, you need to show it again.
- Be prepared to take off your shoes, you have to do that. Knee high, laced boots? Not a good idea. I use a pair of slip on shoes as my "air travel" shoes to make it easy.
- Don't wear a belt or a lot of jewelry. You will have to remove all of that too. The least amount of metal on you, the quicker you'll get through security and not set off the alarms.
- Remove your laptop BEFORE you get to the conveyer, it does have to come out of the carry on bag.
- Once you retrieve your items from the conveyer, move to the area a little farther away to get redressed and put your things back in your bag/purse/etc. Doing it at the end of the conveyer holds up everyone behind you.
Based on these simple suggestions, I have my check in time down to under 5 minutes and the longest I've waited in the security line was 25 minutes. So, it takes me about a half an hour to get to my gate. Keeping in mind that you typically board 20 minutes before flight time, that takes away almost an hour of my 2 hour wait. I find a cup of coffee and a place to sit, and enjoy people watching. Oh yeah, a final recommendation is to go to the restroom BEFORE you board since it will be quite a bit of time until you can go to the water closet on the plane. Happy traveling.