How long will it take to get from your curb to your gate? If you’re Lonny MacLeod, the answer is: a lot less time than you think.
Flying from Orlando, Florida, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, on one of the busiest air-travel days of the year, he took no chances. MacLeod paid an extra $200 for Blacklane PASS, an airport concierge service that helps you check your luggage, finds the fastest check-in option, gives you access to a faster security line, then escorts you to your gate.
“I saved at least half an hour at the airline check-in counter and another 30 minutes at my gate,” says MacLeod, a retired high school teacher from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, who adds that he was surprised by the speed.
For summer travelers headed to the airport, it’s a question that looms large: How long will it take to get to the gate, or from terminal to terminal? A concierge service such as Blacklane is just one shortcut for summer travelers who are worried about missing their flights.
AirHelp publishes airport satisfaction scores, which factor in average transit times. But the times fluctuate. For example, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, transit times are between 35 and 85 minutes, depending on your destination. Instead of relying on one source for airport transit times, experts say, you need to factor in several variables. One is the airport map, which few travelers bother to review before departure. Almost every major airport has a detailed map on its website.
What about the security lines? The Transportation Security Administration’s mobile app, called MyTSA, provides wait-time averages based on the day and time that you are traveling.
Another app worth considering: Terminal Buddy (iOS only), a mobile app that offers flight status, live wait times for check-in and security and terminal maps. That’s what Fares Khalidi, a frequent traveler who works for a travel start-up company in Boca Raton, Florida, uses. He says he finds the wait times are accurate.
“I use Terminal Buddy because it has the wait times and the information on the airport, including food, lounges and maps, which I might need in case I find myself with more time than I thought,” he says.
Apply for Global Entry: Global Entry lets you cut the customs line when you arrive at U.S. airports and land borders. It includes TSA PreCheck, TSA’s trusted-traveler program.
Download the Mobile Passport app: This free smartphone app, now in use at three cruise ports and 25 airports, lets you cut some customs lines by filling out your paperwork in advance online.