How to Save Time and Bypass Long Lines at the Airport

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Munich Airport's VIP Wing

Munich Airport’s VIP Wing

Those travelers who have Global Entry typically report that they get PreCheck for every flight.  For flyers who are members of their airline’s frequent flyer program, the percentage reported ranges from 50% to 80%.

PreCheck is currently available at 40 airports nationwide.  The TSA has said it expects to have the service at over 100 airports by the end of 2013 but that the government shutdown may slow down the rollout.

VIP SERVICES

Airlines, airports, and independent companies offer a variety of services that will also speed the traveler past the cattle lines, sometimes even offering a private sanctuary.  One doesn’t have to be a celebrity to use them as they are all available to travelers willing to pay a fee.

American Airlines offers its Five Star program to all passengers.  The service includes meeting the passenger(s) at curbside, assistance with check-in including use of the airline’s private Flagship Checkin at Chicago O’Hare International Airport , Los Angeles International Airport , Miami International Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

It also includes bypassing the line at the security checkpoint, Admirals Club lounge access, an escort to the gate, pre-boarding, and priority rebooking in the event of a delay.  American offers a similar service for connecting flights as well as for arrivals, although that service does not include bypassing the line for passport control when arriving in the U.S.  Fees start at $250.

Munich Airport offers the VIP Wing.  Designed by Erich Gassman and Tina Aßmann, the expansive building is located next to Terminal 1 and is a 1,200 m2 (13,000 sq. feet) oasis that has its own security checkpoint (which means you’ll typically be going through security alone or with your travelling companions).  The VIP Wing, a separate building, has a variety of spaces where travelers can unwind, including a sit-down restaurant, a bar area, quiet places to work, a smoking area, and an interdenominational prayer room – all with a genuine feeling of peace and tranquility not usually associated with air travel.

The staff at the VIP Wing will process the passenger’s Value-Added Tax paperwork and obtain the refund and then they will drive the traveler to the aircraft, by way of a private elevator that leads down to the tarmac.

Finally, Gateway Special Services and similar companies will meet you curbside, provide an escort through security and passport control at airports around the world, and escort you to your plane with a stop at an airport lounge.  We’ve used Gateway at several airports, most recently at JFK’s Terminal 1, which does not have PreCheck since no domestic airlines operate from this terminal.  The wait on the first/business-class line was independently verified at being 30 minutes.  With Gateway’s escort in tow, the wait at security was under three minutes.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

 

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