For many of us, the airport is the least fun part of our journeys. It feels like a necessary evil that we have to endure before we get to the promised land. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Below are several helpful airport tips and hacks to make the airport experience a little better. These are easy to implement and they can quickly offer improvement.
Be advised—many of these airport tips need to be implemented before you get to the airport!
Airport tips - do this before you leave
1. Pack important things and a change of clothes in your carry-on
The chances of your checked luggage getting lost are slim but possible. Be prepared for the unthinkable by packing your important documents, valuables, and a change of clothes in your carry-on.
2. Personalize your luggage
People can make mistakes and accidentally take someone else’s luggage, which looks similar to theirs. Avoid mistakes like these by personalizing your checked luggage and your carry-on. You can do this by adding stickers or ribbons, or luggage belts.
3. Download your boarding pass and airport map
It’s a great idea to use your phone to access your boarding pass, but what if you cannot access your boarding pass via Wi-Fi? What if the free airport WiFi is too slow because everyone in the airport is connected to it? Avoid this potential hassle by downloading your boarding pass and an airport map ahead of time. If you can do so, have a printed copy too, just in case.
4. Check-in Online
Use technology in your favor! Most airlines now provide online check-in to cut down on waiting time. Use it! (Some airlines do not provide a refund if you miss your flight if you checked in online, so check the terms and conditions of your chosen airline.)
5. Pack a light jacket
Even in the summer, the air conditioning in airports (and airplanes) can be high. Be prepared for this by always having a light jacket or sweater in your bag.
6. Travel with a multi-plug in your carry on
Airport power plugs are limited and dispersed across the airport. By traveling with a multi-plug, you can charge all your gadgets simultaneously, and other passengers can even charge theirs from the same outlet. If you are traveling abroad, include your travel adaptor, too.
7. Pack plenty of snacks
Airport food is expensive. Save money by stocking up on snacks that you can eat on the go. Passable dry snacks are typically the best choices to take on your travels since they will not set off security scanners. Good snacks for traveling include granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, etc.
8. Pack hand sanitizer
With so many people traveling through airports every day, it is a germ pool. Keep a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer close and use it after touching common areas.
9. Pack an empty water bottle
Buying water at the airport is expensive, but you can’t bring water past airport security. The solution to that dilemma is to bring an empty water bottle. Once you are through security, fill your bottle at a water fountain.
Airport tips - do this once you arrive
10. Take a picture of your airport parking spot
Avoid the aggravation of trying to remember where you parked. Simply take a picture or two of the spot and the location. Also, if you are parking long-term, be sure to look for cheap parking options before you leave.
11. Queue Near the Business Class Check-in
If you have already checked in online, this step is unnecessary. If not, it’s helpful to know that business travelers rarely have to wait long to check in because they have their own dedicated line. When the business class check-in hostess has no one else to serve, and the economy class check-in line is long, he/she may offer to lighten the load. If you are queueing close to that check-in line, you may get checked in earlier.
Airport tips - how to get through TSA quickly?
The quicker you can go through security, the less stressed you will be.
12. Prepare for going through airport security before you leave
There’s always that one annoying passenger who holds the line up because they have to take off their bulky boots, unclasp their accessories, and undo their money pouches and belts. Avoid this by simply understanding the rules. For security, we all have to remove our laptop or tablet, 3-1-1 liquid bag, jacket, shoes, belt, and metal jewelry before going through security.
As you prepare yourself that day, dress appropriately so that you can get in and out of the line quickly. Here are a few simple tips to follow:
- Wear socks and slip-on shoes;
- Avoid shoelaces, buckles, or complicated straps;>
- If you can avoid wearing a belt, do so, or keep your belt in your carry-on until after the security check.
13. Opt for lines on the left
Since most people are right-handed, we tend to pick the line on their right to stand in line. By choosing one of the rows on the far left, you are increasing your chances of making it through the line swiftly.
14. Scan the lines before you pick one
Before you select a line, look who is in the line first. Sometimes, the shortest line takes as long as a longer one. Consider that movement through security is significantly faster for a dozen business people than for a family with young children or a tour group of senior individuals.
15. Have your paperwork ready
Have your boarding pass and ID ready when you enter the security line.
16. Empty your pockets while you’re in line
The line at airport security is usually long because people need to empty their pockets, remove shoes, etc. You can speed up the process by emptying your pockets before you reach the front of the line.
17. Pack electronic devices and liquids at the top of your carry-on
When you are going through airport security, you are going to be asked to remove liquids and electronic devices. To ease the process, be sure to pack those items in the top section of your carry-on or backpack so that you have quick and easy access to them.
18. Remember TSA rules
- Unless you’re in a PreCheck lane, you must remove your laptop from its case and place it in its own container.
- For the TSA’s 3-1-1 protocol, ensure that any liquids are kept in a transparent plastic bag.
- Throw away any plastic bottles with liquid in them;
- Before you enter the security line, make sure that your reusable bottle is empty. (If you have a bottle with liquid in it, it will have to be thrown out or emptied. If you empty it, it will have to be re-screened, which causes delays in the line.)
To go through the airport security line as quickly as possible, remove all your belongings from the belt as quickly as possible.
Airport tips - pre boarding
19. Avoid listening to loud music on your headphones
According to stewardesses, the top reason people miss their flights is that they were listening to music via their headphones. The fact is, if you are choosing to listen to loud music via headphones while at the airport, you are also choosing to potentially miss announcements such as a gate change or a boarding call. If you are going to be listening to anything via headphones, don’t put the sound up so loud that it drowns out all other sounds.
20. Boarding takes time—no need to rush
When they say it is time to board, most people jump up to go stand in line. The boarding process takes about 10 to 20 minutes., so take your time. If you are busy with an email, finish the email. In other words, take the time you need to close up what you have and prepare yourself for the next part of your journey. It doesn’t matter that you are in the front or the back of the line— everyone will wind up in the same area.