We Love Travel – Thanksgiving Craziness Edition

Long Lines at Dulles, by cafemama (Creative Commons)

Long Lines at Dulles, by cafemama (Creative Commons)

It’s that time of year again! Time to head to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving Food (and the required naps after eating all that food). Now there is only one thing standing in your way: Getting There.

In this Thanksgiving issue, I’m going to cover a few of the tips I’ve learned over the last several years on how to survive the holiday madness. I know everyone has their own way of getting home, so I’ll cover a few of the majors. Let me know if you have any other tips – I’m always looking for great ideas.

Avoiding the Airport Crush

The first thing I tell everyone traveling this week – especially on Wednesday, the insane day – is to be patient. Before you leave, realize that most of the people working at the airports were up at 4 or 5 am this morning. Holiday travel is an “all hands on deck” time of year, so all the desk people, TSA crews, and everyone else will be running on coffee and little sleep. Be patient with them – it’s a long hard slog for each and every one.

We all know there will be lines. They won’t be as bad this year as last year, according to AAA, but I would still expect to run in to a few. Here are a few ways to work around them: Continue reading

The Daily Feed, Travel

Clear-ed in 60 seconds…

In a previous post I talked about signing up for the Clear lanes at Dulles airport. After much waiting, my card came today – just in time for my flight to our annual conference. Being a total gear head, I wanted to try it immediately.

It’s hard not to love this service. Even after the sticker shock (yes, it is $128.00 per year), I now know it is worth it. On Friday during rush hour it took me – wait for it – all of 300 seconds to clear security. 5 minutes.  That’s right. Including biometrics, taking out the laptop, doing the X-Ray machine, everything. I was in a line of exactly two people. And then I was through. Continue reading

Talkin' Transit, The District, Travel

Going “Clear” at Dulles

Security lines suck. There is just no other way to describe it. Imagine any other location where you are dragging luggage behind you, trying to juggle papers, and then have to take your shoes off to get somewhere. If Metro started enforcing rules like that, there would be a riot in most of DC.

The biggest problem with TSA security is how long it takes. (I’m going to ignore the “gigantic” problems for now – I’ll hold my TSA ranting for later.) Arriving at an airport is a crap shoot – you could fly through security, or you could wait an hour for a single lane. And, as a frequent traveler, that drives me crazy. It’s a lot of time I could be using doing something useful – like blogging.

So, after seeing the Clear Lanes expand in to Dulles, and then working my way towards the $128.00 fee (most of which is paid by my company), I decided to take the plunge and find out how much faster this new system is.   Continue reading

Talkin' Transit, The District, Travel

Diamond Lanes at Dulles

My job puts me on the road.  A lot.  And, because I fly from DC, I’m a United Airlines Frequent Flyer.  For those of you in the know I’ve been a 1K for five years now. For those of you that don’t know what that is – let’s just say I get in a lot of airplanes. So one day Tom asked me “what is it like to travel out of DC?” and after a lengthy explanation he asked me if I would blog about it. So here goes…

Dulles is always under construction. Let’s just assume that is a constant. The benefit is that construction means that there are always new things happening and changing at the airport. Normally they fall in to the category of “oh no” or “not again”. I’m sure I will write about a few of those later.

Imagine my surprise to find a good change! Dulles has something new called the “Diamond Lanes”. These lanes are supposed to be for “frequent travelers (2 or more times a month)”. And – put down your coffee before continuing – the lines are really short! That’s because they are difficult to find. The Diamond Lanes are downstairs in arrivals (baggage claim). To find them, head over to Door 4. There, about 50 feet from the Clear lanes and the Employee lanes, is a new security section. Voila, you just found the back door. Continue reading