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I'd rather risk missing a flight than waste my time at the airport

Jan. 26, 2020
5 min read
I'd rather risk missing a flight than waste my time at the airport
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We've all had close calls. For some, it's missing the last shot in a sports game. For others -- like me -- it's nearly missing your international flight.

I was scheduled to fly United to San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) the Friday before Christmas. As a rule of thumb, I like to minimize the amount of time I spend in airports before domestic and short-haul international flights. That almost always means skipping the lounge and going straight to my gate. And thanks to my American Executive Platinum and United Premier 1K status, I can bypass most lines.

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I'm a creature of habit, so when I arrived at Newark 57 minutes before departure, I knew it was going to be close. Having taken over 100 flights last year, I've gotten really good at timing my departure from my apartment to ensure that I get to the airport with just enough time to spare. December 20th was no exception -- until my Uber driver took the wrong exit from the highway, adding 15 minutes onto my trip time.

Since I was flying on a one-way international ticket, I couldn't check-in online, but that didn't matter much because I was checking a bag for my two week trip. United has a 1 hour check-in cutoff for international destinations, so I wasn't shocked that the kiosk told me that the flight was closed.

Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

Time was ticking, and I knew I needed to find an agent to ask the gate to manually re-open the flight for check-in. The airport was jammed, but I navigated my way to a friendly 1K agent, who called the gate and issued our boarding passes. She tagged my bag, and wished us luck sprinting it to the gate.

Fortunately, I've got Clear and PreCheck (and you should too), so I made it to the gate before they even started boarding. Though I made it, the checked bag showed up the next morning, one day before my Panama Canal cruise.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6yg0EilxOi/

As we taxied out for departure, I wasn't mad that I nearly missed my flight or that the bag would be a day late. And here's why.

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As an ultra-frequent flier, I already spend lots of my time in airports. That doesn't bother me since I love all things aviation, but I also don't like wasting time. And personally, I have a really hard time getting work done with all the stop and go in the terminal. So, it's no surprise that I like to show up just in time for departure.

If I wanted to guarantee that I make every single flight, I'd probably have to add about 30 more minutes to each of my trips. Over the course of 100 segments, that'd be like spending two more 24-hour days in airports on top of all the time I'm already spending in them.

Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

Sure, it's hard to predict when an Uber driver takes a wrong turn or there's some other unexpected delay in getting to the airport. But personally, I'd rather miss a flight than spend so much extra time waiting around.

RELATED: Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best?

This logic isn't foolproof. If there's only one daily frequency or if I'm headed to an important meeting, then I'll be sure to add in a little extra buffer time. But, United has four departures to SJO, so I wasn't too worried about getting stuck in Newark.

And if you end up arriving too late, most airlines have generous "flat tire" policies that waive change fees and fare differences to get you on your way. Plus, if you use the right credit card to purchase your ticket and miss a connection, you'll have trip delay insurance to help you recoup some out-of-pocket expenses.

RELATED: Best trip delay reimbursement credit cards of 2020

I once heard a colleague say if you've never missed a flight, then you're wasting too much time in airports. I haven't missed one yet, but I got awfully close this time. I'm not even mad about it because I'd prefer to spend more time at home with loved ones than waiting around aimlessly at the gate.

But, when it does happen, I'll be reassured that I didn't waste more than two days of my life guaranteeing that I didn't miss my flight.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023