Give the gift of stress-free travel with these 7 airport perks - The Washington Post

2 months ago 34

If you are struggling to come up with a gift for your traveling loved ones — or just down to the wire and need a gift fast — consider this: What if you could make their next trip to the airport a little nicer? Not upgrade-their-flight-to-first-class-for-thousands-of-dollars-nicer, but just something that can take the edge off.

There are plenty of ways to do just that, none of which will clutter their house. Here are seven holiday gift ideas for every kind of traveler, ranging in price from budget-friendly to splurge-worthy.

Help them cut the line with CLEAR

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Starts at $89

One of the easiest airport security line-cutting services to obtain is CLEAR, a privately-owned business at more than 40 U.S. airports (and some stadiums). The program uses biometric technology to give enrolled travelers a “faster, safer, touchless way through airport security” by scanning their eyes and face as identification.

While it speeds up the document-checking process at TSA, it does not speed up the screening process. They will need TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for that. You could gift a six-month CLEAR membership for $89, a 12-month option for $189, or 12 months for two people for $239. Children under 18 can use the line free with a member. Before you gift this one, make sure CLEAR is available at your loved one’s home airport, or ones they fly to the most.

Let them destress with an airport massage

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Ranges from $25 to $72

If they have a long-haul flight coming up or a day of layovers, ease the pain with a gift card to XpressSpa. With locations across the country, the company provides services like massages, manicures and pedicures, among others. You can add custom amounts to gift cards. Treatments range from a $25 for a 15-minute chair massage to $72 for a 30-minute back and neck massage. XpressSpa delivers physical gift cards in three to seven days that can be purchased online.

Treat them to an airport lounge

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Access starts at $25

Get them out of the airport fray and into a lounge for drinks and snacks with LoungeBuddy. The app gives users access to lounges around the world, from Tokyo to Sydney to Miami for a one-time fee.

At Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), for example, LoungeBuddy users can spend three hours at The Club BWI, a 2,200 square-foot lounge with complimentary drinks, snacks, TVs, printers and relaxation zones for $50.

For $25, they could get a workout and shower in at BWI’s ROAM Fitness mini gym. In Rome Fiumicino Airport, they can spend three hours in the Plaza Premium Lounge for $45 to unwind with drinks, snacks and showers.

LoungeBuddy no longer has its gift card service. Instead, you can give your favorite frequent flier a Visa gift card and instructions to download the app for their upcoming trip

Hire an airport concierge

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Starts at $250

Perq Soleil is an airport arrival and departure assistance service that can get you through security in about a minute flat. A travel aide takes travelers through an alternative line usually reserved for airport staff and airline personnel.

They also provide customized services for customers, like meeting travelers at their car and helping with their luggage, arranging airport wheelchairs and shopping for them at duty free. They can help with getting paperwork ready to fly with a pet, or get travelers coffee and delivering it to their gate.

With rates starting at $250 for a party of up to four travelers, hiring Perq Soleil is not cheap, but it makes for a special gift for a hectic travel day. You can ease the burden of holiday travel for aging parents, families with kids or someone with mobility issues, or kick a friend’s honeymoon off with a fancy start.

Perq Soleil can provide services in 300 airports and 150 countries. Prices change depending on the airport and time of flight and requested services. For example, two hours of service at Reagan National Airport between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. costs $250 for four travelers. The service at Boston Logan International Airport is $360, and at Los Angeles International Airport, it costs $350.

Pick PreCheck for frequent fliers

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Costs $78

For a fraction of the cost of a flight, give someone TSA PreCheck. You will cut down their time in the security line, and eliminate the hassle of taking off their shoes and removing electronics from their bags.

Travelers have to apply online, schedule an appointment at one of the 380-plus enrollment centers to get fingerprinted and go through a background check. Once approved, there is a $78 fee to secure a membership that lasts five years. You cannot buy a gift card for the program, so we recommend giving the traveler a Visa gift card to cover the cost when they apply.

Get them back in the country faster

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Costs $100

If your recipient travels abroad frequently, a Global Entry membership can expedite their return home (although, to be honest, we still prefer Mobile Passport Control for getting through airport customs fast for free).

The Customs and Border Protection program gives travelers an expedited experience when flying home from abroad. To get enrolled in the program, travelers must apply then undergo a background check and in-person interview.

Membership is $100 and lasts five years, plus it comes with a TSA PreCheck membership, so you are really giving them a two-for-one gift. As with PreCheck, you cannot buy a gift card for the program, so you can gift the recipient with the amount to cover the cost of applying.

Pick up the tab for a layover meal

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If your loved one travels through a particular airport frequently and has a favorite restaurant to post-up at (believe us, there are actually some good ones), buy a gift card to cover their next visit.

That may be at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International’s popular One Flew South for contemporary Southern cooking and sushi, or Root Down at Denver International, an airport restaurant with 4.5-stars across nearly 4,000 Google reviews.

If you cannot pick a restaurant, get their coffee by purchasing a gift card to ubiquitous chains like Dunkin’ and Starbucks. Encourage the recipient to download the app for the chain you choose so they can order ahead of time and skip the line.

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