You know the deal. You get to the airport two hours before your flight is scheduled to take off. You then spend time waiting in a ticket line. Then, you wait in a security line. Then, you wait in a line for a cup of coffee while heading to your gate. Finally, you wait for your plane to actually take off.
For business travelers, the process of getting from point A to point B is time-consuming. Follow these tips to make your next business trip a lot faster and more productive:
1. Book an early flight
Generally, flights scheduled for take-off between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. are less likely to be delayed than departures later in the day. Non-stop flights also tend to get you to your destination faster than flights with layovers.
Another tip? Plan transportation to the airport in advance and leave off-peak to avoid traffic jams.
2. Sign up for TSA pre-check
A five-year TSA pre-check membership costs $85 and will help you speed through security lines at U.S. airports. Many times, it will take less than 5 minutes. Another bonus: You also don't have to remove your shoes, belts, liquids, or jackets.
3. Apply for Global Entry
If you plan to travel frequently outside the U.S., consider taking advantage of the Global Entry program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (which already has TSA pre-check benefits included). It is designed to provide low-risk travelers expedited clearance.
However, some effort is required to obtain the card. Applicants must fill out paperwork, pass an interview and pay a non-refundable $100 fee. There are also eligibility requirements.
How it works: Once you land in the U.S., you'll bypass the traditional customs line and visit a self-service Global Entry kiosk instead. At the kiosk, you'll scan your fingerprint and complete a customs declaration. Once the kiosk issues a receipt, you are cleared to exit to baggage claim.
4. Download travel apps
You can avoid unnecessary wait times by downloading your airline's travel app for real-time updates on gate changes, flight delays and cancelations. Other apps can also be handy for tracking weather -- or even turbulence that may affect your overall flying experience.
5. Pass on checked baggage
Another slowdown at the airport? The long lines to check luggage at the ticket counter. If you can get away with just a carry-on, you can usually skip this line and head straight to security (just remember to print your boarding pass ahead of time).
6. Review your current travel rewards program
According to Bank of America Year-End Consumer Spending Snapshot, business and leisure travelers are using their credit cards more than ever for travel expenses. So, it pays to stick with a credit card rewards program.
While this isn't exactly a time strategy, it can help you score more bonus miles or perks, like access to airport lounges. So, before booking a trip, take stock of what's in your wallet and ask whether it makes sense to switch to another loyalty program.
7. Always have a backup plan
Finally, plan ahead. For those looking to save time, it only makes sense to have a backup plan ready in case your flight gets delayed or canceled. Always ask, "if I can't make this flight, what are my other options?"