What's Changed at the Airport for Fall Travel

If you normally fly only during summer vacation, you’ll probably notice some changes at the airport this fall. Some are good, some are less so. On the plus side, the throngs of tourists pretty much disappeared so terminals will be less hectic. This is not to say all airports are now perfect – they’re not. [See the helpful video below]

6 perfect fall trips

5 Changes at the Airport

Take a look at the following changes and see our tips that’ll help make your fall travels as easy as possible.

1. More lines

This does not necessarily mean longer lines, just more of them which can be a little confusing. Couple of examples:

  • New TSA PreCheck lines: This fall, the airport security screening agency is adding another 60 airports to its speedier PreCheck screening program. This can make going through security a breeze and here’s how you can take part.
  • Early boarding lines at the gate: This is a by-product of what air travel analyst Rick Seaney called “the era of fees” but it may work in your favor. Some airlines charge a small or mid-range fee for early boarding, but some airline-branded credit cards can get you this perk for free. Same for elite status in miles programs. It’s worth doing a little research on your airline’s site to see if you can benefit.

2. Escalating fees

The trick here is to avoid paying fees at the airport – that’s where you’ll pay the most. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Spirit Airlines: Printing your boarding pass yourself at home is free; having an agent print it at the airport is $10.
  • Frontier Airlines: For basic fare tickets, a carry-on bag costs $25 if paid online; pay at the gate and it’ll cost you $100.

3. More DIY

Travelers will notice more do-it-yourself kiosks which some find a chore and some find a big time-saver. Some are useful for flight check-in and boarding pass printing while others will spit out bag tags that you then place on your luggage and bring to the airport counter (you may even have to haul that suitcase onto the belt yourself). If you’re not quite getting the hang of all this, don’t worry – the airlines still have a few humans on staff.

4. More planes leaving a little early

These days, showing up for a flight with a few moments to spare may not be good enough, thanks to more and ¬†more flights leaving a little early to maintain those all-important on-time performance¬†statistics published by the FAA. Don’t ruin a trip with a late arrival, always be at the gate area at least 20 minutes before scheduled departure time.

5. Fewer amenities in the air

This has been the airline story of the past decade: fewer amenities and those that remain cost you money. Those free blankets and pillows? Most airlines now charge for them. Free Coke or coffee? That’ll cost you on Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit. Meals? First and business class only. Bring your own comforts and food from home; it’ll save you money and taste a whole lot better than that pricy airline turkey wrap.

VIDEO: Check this out and save some money.

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Published: September 12, 2013