Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Joys of Arriving Early

airport security lines

Getting to the airport really early makes every other choice work better. (More time to maneuver). -- Chris Brogan

Chris flys for business, while my travel is mostly personal. But I'm also a get-to-the-airport-early person - ridiculously early, according to some friends. But there are so many unknowns:

- If I'm taking a taxi, will it show up on time?

- What will traffic be like? If I'm leaving from home, will there be a tie-up on one of the few roads out of my coastal town?

- How long will the lines be at the airport? Will I be selected for a go-through-the-luggage security check?

I find I'm just much less stressed if I leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare. At the San Francisco airport, I have my routines, which include a nice relaxed meal; we are blessed with some very nice dining options, especially in the international terminal.

And the same thing applies to other appointments, although I don't leave quite as much slack time as with the airport. I leave extra time for getting lost (if I'm going someplace new - even though I rarely get lost), for finding parking (if I'm going to San Francisco), and for getting held up in traffic. When I don't leave early, and cut things too closely, I sit in my car fretting about every long light I hit; that's no fun!

If always have something to read in the car with me, so if I arrive early, I can put the time to good use.

Organizer Janine Adams recently wrote about her new philosophy of arriving early. She said that "Stress vanished. It felt so good not to be rushed." To which I say, amen.

[photo by aka_zoe / Lori W, licensed under Creative Commons]


Barbara James said...

I get to the airport early because once there, the clock stops. For me anyway. There are places to browse, things to eat, coffee, wireless internet, and if I scout carefully, outlets to recharge the variety of electronics I travel with. It is about the only thing I am never late for.

Struggler said...

Yes, something to read (or do) in the car is essential. I'm pretty good at arriving early, and rather bad at having something useful to do while I wait!

Julie Bestry said...


I was raised to always get everywhere early, so with very minor exceptions, that's what I do. I live so close to my airport that I can (literally) drive from my house to the airport faster than I can walk from the parking space to check-in or security. In the 11 years I've lived here, there's never been more than one person in front of me for either check-in or security, and I've never arrived less than an hour before take-off.

There's no reason to come so early and yet I always feel I'm violating some "law" that says you must arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before the flight. (Amazing what good parental indoctrination can do!) Thus, I never start out any trip with stress or having to run for a plane. Sadly, my flights were not trained by my mother to be on time, and that has led to some running for connections. But building in that buffer time, whether for plane or train or just heading to your appointments for the day can eliminate so much stress that I can't imagine a reason not to leave early.

Jeri Dansky said...

Barbara, I'm totally with you on that one! And I have my favorite airports, based on those factors. How easy is it to recharge? To use wifi? Are there interesting places to eat (not just big chains) and interesting shops?

Struggler, I put some reading material by my front door each day, so I remember to take something with me.

Julie, I'm pretty sure I picked up the "early" habit from my parents, too. I also book longish connection times, especially for flights that tend to run late - but of course, that's still far from foolproof.

Janine Adams said...

Jeri, while I struggle with punctuality (though my new philosophy is making things so much better), I've always been an early-to-the-airport person, for the reasons you describe. If I slip and end up getting there without a lot of time to spare, it's almost guaranteed I'll find a huge line at security. That's such an awful, stressful feeling. And a terrible way to start a trip!

Cioara Andrei said...

Foarte interesant subiectul prezentat de tine.M-am uitat pe blogul tau si imi place tare mult
Sigur am sa mai revin. O zi buna!

VWB said...

for years my mantra has been "if I'm not early, I'm late"...for all the reasons you gave. As I learned years ago from the 7 Habits book...every action has consequences...and the consequences of being early (reading a book, watching people, listening to the radio, driving around the block) are far more pleasing than the all the stress of worrying about being late and arriving breathless and not getting a good seat, etc!

Even my boss now realizes I have it built into my schedule to be early and he honors it! hE knows it makes me more productive!

Jeri Dansky said...

Cioara, it's the first time I've received a comment in Romanian! I'm glad you enjoyed this post, and I look forward to hearing from you again.