Make Your Layovers Count | Nan McKay


The flights are crowded, but there are fewer flights and some long layovers. I was looking at Europe flights (with miles instead of dollars), and I was surprised to see some six and eight-hour layovers, including a change in airports in New York and Newark, for example.

Because of this search and because I just had a flight from Portland to Phoenix to Lihue, Hawaii with a three-hour layover, I’m thinking about layovers. This trip had a great layover side benefit! We were able to meet up with our son John in Phoenix for breakfast.

It was easy to go out of security to a breakfast place where we could meet him. You have to be careful to make sure you have all your “belongings” as the flight attendants are always reminding you about because you don’t want to have to scurry back in – because airport travel does not utilize the word “scurry.”

We had time for breakfast and some good catch-up since we hadn’t seen him for several months. We moved from Tucson, where we used to see him much more often, to Washington, so we had a lot of news to chat about!

The other thing you have to be careful of is to leave an hour before your flight time to get back through security and still be at the gate thirty minutes before flight time.

And while we are talking about security, here’s another thought. TSA pre-check is super worth it! The line is always shorter to get through security. If you are ever planning on going outside the United States, I think Global Entry is the way to go.

You have to apply for it online, and it requires an interview. However, TSA precheck comes with it, so you get both domestic and global entry. Here’s how it works for international travel. If you’ve ever traveled internationally, when you are coming back into the U.S., the lines can be really long. If you are connecting, the long lines can ever cause you to miss your flight.

With global entry, there are kiosks right inside security for international travel using fingerprint identification. You just put your passport in the scanner, answer a couple of questions, and put your fingers on the glass. The process is very fast.  If the airport doesn’t have kiosks, the global entry lines are much faster than the regular lines. You also don’t have the agricultural check lines because you answer the questions about what you are bringing in when you are at the kiosk.

You then can pick up your luggage from the carousel, grab a free cart, and either wheel it out of the security area or, if you are connecting, there is a baggage recheck right in the baggage area. It is very efficient.

And it makes your plane connection time smoother. You will typically still have to go through security for the connecting flight, so plan your time accordingly. You don’t want to miss that connection. Of course, if you have global entry/TSA, you can zip through the connection security as well.

Oh, one other thing. Did you notice that big sweater I had on in the picture? Planes are usually cold! I use this sweater as a blanket because, unless you are on an international or quite long flight in the U.S. in first class, like Hawaii, the airlines don’t supply blankets anymore.

Part of enjoying travel is learning the system!

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