At the Airport
Airports can be the most exciting places if you like to travel. Or, they can be a place to endure. Knowing ahead of time what to expect can sometimes help.
GET THERE EARLY
Airlines require you to be at the airport two hours in advance. But I prefer to get there three hours in advance. This may sound like I'm just making my trip needlessly long. But know my home airport quite well. Pretty consistently, if I get to the airport early, I don't have to wait in long lines. Check in at the airline desk is easy, especially with the new kiosks that can issue your boarding passes. The line at security is less frantic and then we can relax at a restaurant before boarding time. It's worth it to me to eliminate any stress I can.
GOING THROUGH SECURITY
Security is a fact of life. We may not like it but it is something that we all have a responsibility to go through. Since the regulations change often, it's best to check with the Transport Security Administration for the latest information.
My experience has been to take all belts, jewelry, shoes, jackets, purses, and any extra items off. I put them into a plastic bin, along with my electronic items which traveled through a scanner. I put my carry-on baggage on the same conveyor belt to be scanned. Then you walk through a scanning booth. The only time I've been called aside was when I had forgotten that my packed water bottle had water in it - a no-no! But we pulled it out, I poured it out, and then all was good.
They may want to open computers or other electrical devices. Just be ready.
I have not been through the controversial pat down. My best advice it to be prepared for it, know it's not personal, and prepare children for the possibility of the procedure, just as you would when taking them to the doctor's.
Be careful not to carry forbidden items. Double check as it's easy to forget your manicure set. If they find these items, you will surely have more of a hassle than you need. Be careful of your conversation too. It's easy when nervous to "joke" inappropriately. Again, no need for the extra hassle.
FIND YOUR TERMINAL AND RELAX
Once you're through security, find your airline's terminal. Sometime's it's a good long walk. Once you're oriented, then you can enjoy some food at the airport. It will surely be better than what will be on the plane. If you're on a budget, you can pack food from home, just remember the drinks will have to come from the airport food court.