I’m not sure how she does it, but my wife could find a way to use two pots, one frying pan, three mixing bowls and a wire wisk just to boil some Top Ramen noodles. She has a million talents but kitchen efficiency is not among them. The poor girl will make a batch of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese and the sink will be brimming full of pots, pans and utensils. I have no idea how she does it. When I’m in the kitchen (I love to cook) I’ll use the two minutes it takes to boil water to wash whatever is in the sink. My goal is to be able to serve the dish and walk out with a clean kitchen behind.
Those are two extremes to be sure, but the same analogy applies to people who are checking in at the airport counter for a flight. I am always amazed at the folks who walk up to the counter with luggage in both hands (over-packed luggage, to be sure), and look around with wide eyes at all that is bustling around them. You can read it in their faces, “Oh my gosh, what on earth do I do now?”
They look at the electronic check-in kiosks with the same fear and trepidation they would have while approaching a mother grizzly bear. I’m here to tell you there is an extremely fast and efficient method to move through this line. You can get so good at it that you will literally walk up, check in, get your luggage tagged, and walk away before the next person in line even knows it’s their turn.
The process begins by checking in on line. Go to your airline’s website 24 hours prior to departure and check in for your flight. Most airlines allow you to check a box and identify the number of bags you’ll be checking, make sure you take advantage of that if it’s offered. Your boarding pass will print and it will have a bar code on it. Fold this sheet of paper so that it fits in your hip pocket with the bar code facing out.
When you arrive at the airline check in counter, find an empty kiosk. This will be easy, I promise that even if there are 1,000 people waiting in the line, there will most certainly be an empty kiosk available somewhere. 90% of the airline’s check in issues can be solved at one of those kiosks but the vast majority of fliers don’t know this and that works to your advantage. Stroll right up to that empty kiosk like you know what you’re doing and scan your bar code under the reader that is usually mounted above the kiosk on the counter. Have your driver’s license handy in your other hand.
The bar code will get scanned and you’ll hear a “beep.” That’s your signal to place your bag(s) on the scale. Now, hold up your license and wait for an attendant to walk over to get the luggage tags and claim checks that just printed out behind the kiosk. They will holler out your name, you’ll nod and show your id. They’ll glance at your id and hand you your claim checks. That’s your que to grab your carry-on and get the hell out of the way. Stick the claim checks to the back of your boarding pass (away from the written text or you’ll confound the TSA, that’s also easy to do) and you’ll be good to go.
I have gone through this process quickly. My record is 37 seconds. I walk away leaving the rest of the line bewildered at the sheer simplicity by which I walked up and walked out. It’s not rocket science; it’s just a matter of being prepared.
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.