As you approach the airport, remind the driver if you have luggage in the trunk and leave the passenger door open until its removed.
Avoid curbside check-in if checking luggage.
Remove coins and metal objects from your pockets if you didn’t do this in transit to the airport.
Have your air itinerary with record locator or a credit card easily accessible for kiosk check-in.
Pick the shortest security line. More and more airports are adopting the single line corral system that later funnels passengers into multiple lines. If you have the option of choosing the line, look around for the shortest one. If may be a little further away, but worth the schlep if it saves you a significant period of time.
Look for expert travelers. If you can’t follow George Cluny through the line, follow the advice of his character in “Up in the Air.” Avoid families and groups of newbie looking travelers. Women business travelers are my ideal – they’re organized and a lot less likely to have coins in their pockets – unlike the male road warriors always holding up the lines with their coins and belts.
Do your best to go through the machine at the same time that your valuables are going through the metal detector.
This may sound overly detailed, but I put my shoes in the first bin to go through the machine, my heaviest item next, then the personal/valuable item, followed by the bin with laptop if I have one, then my coat or zip lock. That way, the shoes come out first – I put them on, take the heavy rollaboard off the conveyor, grab my personal item insert laptop and zip lock and I’m gone.
If you’re flying Business or First Class, or have an American Express Platinum card, take advantage of the airline lounges. Staff at the lounge’s check in desk can often get exit rows, and will advise you of any changes to your flight. If you have a long layover in an airport between lengthy flights, it may be worth buying a lounge day pass.
Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages before long haul flights.
If you’re traveling with children, arrive early, go through security as early as possible, pick up some snacks and take advantage of the offer to board before other passengers. Wait until the plane has leveled off to attempt reseating the family together if you didn’t book far enough in advance to insure this.
When you arrive at the destination airport:
Get to immigration as quickly as possible if you’re traveling internationally.
Be nice, professional and resist the urge to joke with the agent unless they display a sense of humor.
Ask for information at information counters only. In many airports people posing as traveler assistants are really timeshare salespeople, or people offering alternative, less legal methods of transportation. These may be really nice people, but I suggest ignoring them and only speaking to official information people behind counters for your protection and time saving.
Stop by the tourist information desk for free maps and brochures if you remember (I never do!).
Find your preferred method of ground transportation. If you’re taking a taxi, ask at information or the dispatcher what the approximate fare should be. If you will be taking a taxi in a country where you don’t speak the language well, have the address written clearly on a piece of paper to hand the driver.