Four airport survival tips for August travel, like don’t show up super early for your flight


Globe personal finance reporter Erica Alini is writing this newsletter while Rob is on holidays.

How was Pearson Airport? I’ve been hearing this question a lot since my family and I recently travelled through Toronto’s now infamous airport. We came back with no horror stories to share, which I suspect had a lot of it had to do with sheer luck and the fact that we didn’t fly with one of the major national carriers.

That said, if you’re travelling through Pearson or another delays-plagued transport hub in the next few weeks, here are four tips based on personal experience and my reporting on the issue:

Don’t bother showing up super early for your flight. With all the staffing shortages, no one will be checking you in any earlier than the customary two hours (for domestic flights) or three hours (for international routes) before departure. Arriving, say, four hours early likely means you’ll end up sitting around without so much as an assigned check-in counter to line up at.

That said, arriving 15-20 minutes before check-in begins can make all the difference between breezing through your baggage drop and a long, slow line in front of you.

Stick to hand luggage if you can. I had no intention of spending my vacation waiting for our bags to arrive, so I squeezed the bare minimum for a week into three carry-on bags. That lowered my stress levels and considerably reduced our time at the airport.

If minimalist packing isn’t an option, make sure to stuff your carry-on with everything you’d need to get by for a day or two without your checked bags. Starting your holiday by having to shop for underwear and pyjamas is no fun.

Get trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Sometimes your bags take so long to catch up with you that you’ll end up having to buy some clothing no matter what. In that scenario, it’s nice when your insurance chips in with a few hundred bucks.

An allowance to replace essential items is a handy feature of many trip cancellation and interruption policies. This kind of insurance – often sold separately from the kind that covers medical emergencies – will also refund you all or some of the costs of hotel nights, pre booked excursions and activities you might miss because your flights were cancelled or delayed. These days, it’s a must-have.

Document everything. No insurance will cover the actual cost of a cancelled flight. For that, you’ll have to make your case for refund and compensation, if applicable, with the airline. That’s why air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs recommends keeping detailed logs and receipts of your airport journey.

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Erica’s personal finance reading list

What does it take to get the maximum CPP?

Enoch Omololu of the Savvy New Canadians blog has an eminently accessible guide to just what it takes – in terms of years of contributions and earnings – to get the most out of the Canada Pension Plan.

How to tell what’s a good raise right now

With inflation at a four-decade high, it’s getting harder to tell what constitutes “a decent bump in salary,” argues Julia Carpenter at the Wall Street Journal. Lots of practical suggestions for gauging the size of your pay raise or bonus.

Investing in a bear market

A list of tried and true investing principles from the Ontario Securities Commission’s Get Smarter About Money website. Worth clicking through to the article about how to devise an investment plan, as well.

A $90 million yacht, anyone?

That much money will get you a 600-metre superyacht – but only a pre-owned one, according to The New Yorker. As Canada gets ready to roll out a new luxury tax, an entertaining read on the ever-larger pleasure boats of the ultra-rich.

(Second) video of the week

Ottawa-based investment analyst Richard Coffin is a crypto skeptic who knows how not to be obnoxious about it. Here’s his friendly take on the “buy the dip” arguments around digital currencies.

Tweeting the zeitgeist

John Pasalis of Toronto-based real estate brokerage Realosophy Realty shares this advice for both homebuyers and sellers in the current market (worth reading the whole thread).

Listen to this

The NPR science team explains what extreme weather means for your wallet. Well worth the nine-minute listen.

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