More than 1.4 million passengers will travel through Chicago’s airports during the 2007 holiday season according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. This translates into long lines, congested traffic and stress, particularly for those traveling with children.
As seasoned travel professionals, GO Airport Express, Chicago’s top ground transportation service, offers 10 holiday travel tips to make the journey as pleasant as the destination.
Call the airlines before you leave for the airport.
Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at the airport and discovering that your flight has been delayed or cancelled. If your flight has been cancelled, call the airline or your travel agent immediately to try and reschedule your flight.
Avoid rush hour.
Try to schedule your departure so you are not arriving at the airport during between 6:45 and 9:30 a.m. or between 3:45 and 6:30 p.m. “It’s not the traffic to O’Hare, but the traffic at O’Hare that slows you down,” says John McCarthy, president of GO Airport Express.
Domestic and international passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure during the holidays when crowds and security are greatest.
Circumvent the boarding pass line. If your airline has the option, print your boarding pass off your computer so you do not have to wait in line.
Bring at least one photo I.D. for domestic travel and a passport for international travel. Keep your boarding pass and forms of identification within easy access at security checkpoints.
Double-check luggage guidelines.
Follow weight and quantity guidelines for luggage and carry-on bags. All liquids in carry-on baggage should be kept in three-ounce or smaller containers and placed in a quart-sized, zip-top clear plastic bag. Breast milk or formula is allowed on board in containers larger than three ounces but mothers should only bring enough for the flight. For a complete list of allowed and banned items visit www.tsa.gov.
All types of footwear must be removed for screening. Be sure to wear shoes that are easy to take on and off (and socks if you are concerned about germs). Avoid wearing metal that may set off alarms, and be prepared to remove jackets and cardigans.
Do not bring wrapped gifts to the checkpoint. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will unwrap them for security reasons.
Make time fly by for your children.
If you have little kids in tow, O’Hare Airport offers an interactive exhibit called “Kids on the Fly.” Located in Terminal 2, children 12 and younger can pretend to be pilots or baggage personnel. International Terminal 5 has play areas for children provided by the Chicago Fire Department and Rotary International.
Look for travel deals.
Many travelers find discounts for flights, hotels and ground transportation during the holiday season by booking online. You can money – up to 40 percent less than a taxi – and time by booking transportation to and from your departure and destination airports on one website, www.goairportshuttle.com. Plus, with door-to-door service, passengers can be picked up and dropped off at their homes, eliminating the need to navigate public transportation turnstiles and buses with bags, presents and holiday goodies.
Founded in 1853 as the Parmelee Transportation Company, GO Airport Express currently transports more than one million passengers annually to and from Chicago’s airports. Its services are offered to and from downtown Chicago, as well as Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown, Near North, West Loop and South Loop neighborhoods and O’Hare service to and from most West, North and Northwest suburbs. It has recently joined the GO Group network of global ground transportation providers to better serve the needs of customers worldwide. To receive more information, become a Preferred Rider, or book a ride online, visit www.airportexpress.com.