Airports serve as bustling centers of activity, teeming with travelers determined to navigate their way from point A to point B with minimal disruptions. While the allure of exploring new destinations is undeniable, the reality is that air travel often encounters unforeseen challenges. However, it’s worth noting that there are proactive measures you can take to enhance the overall smoothness of your journey.
Consider that airlines like Southwest may offer more assistance than anticipated, and a little extra thought in your packing strategy could be the determining factor between a troublesome flight and an enjoyable one. Even if you believe your airport routine is well-refined, exploring these valuable tips and tricks might bring additional benefits.
1. Carry Your Own Headphones
Benefits: Avoid additional expenses.
Requirements: Personal headphones.
Bringing your own headphones to the airport is a highly recommended practice for several reasons. Not only will it save you from purchasing an extra set when you decide to watch an in-flight movie, but they are likely to be more comfortable and secure in your ears.
It’s appreciative that airlines like American Airlines provide headphones, but their quality might not be top-notch. For an uninterrupted and enjoyable entertainment experience, it’s advisable to stick to your own pair rather than taking a chance and buying a set from the airline.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for a free upgrade
Benefits: Potential for a better seat.
Many people might hesitate to ask for complimentary perks, but sometimes being a bit assertive can work in your favor. In a competitive world, making it known that you’re celebrating a special occasion could lead to receiving special treatment.
Airlines like United have a reputation for occasionally providing free upgrades to passengers, aiming to enhance their overall experience. While it’s not a guaranteed strategy, asking politely costs nothing, and you have nothing to lose by trying.
3. When entering the security check, head to the left checkpoint
Benefits: Expedited security check.
Requirements: Basic left-right orientation.
Standing in a lengthy security line can be painfully tedious, but here’s a simple trick to potentially alleviate the stress. Instead of automatically choosing the right side at security, head to the left and choose the checkpoint furthest away from you on that side.
The rationale is straightforward: since most people are right-handed and tend to head to the right checkpoint, going left could help you navigate the system more efficiently, potentially resulting in a quicker passage. While it may not save you a significant amount of money, it can certainly save you valuable time.
4. Don’t forget to bring a portable charger
Benefits: Ensure uninterrupted device power.
Requirements: Portable battery charger.
In our tech-centric world, maintaining a charged device is often a top priority. Traveling without access to a phone can be both inconvenient and unsafe. While airports offer charging points, securing a seat next to one can be challenging. The solution? Bring a portable charger with you.
When your iPhone or other devices start running low on battery, simply take out your portable charger and start charging. Here’s a bonus tip: consider turning off your phone or switching it to airplane mode after takeoff. This prevents continuous network scanning, which can rapidly drain the battery.
5. Bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer
Benefits: Protection against germs during travel.
Requirements: Wet wipes, hand sanitizer.
Considering that planes are essentially confined spaces with many people in close proximity, the likelihood of catching a bug is naturally higher. To err on the side of caution, it’s advisable to travel with a pack of wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
Utilize wet wipes and hand sanitizer at every available opportunity to minimize exposure to germs. Additionally, wet wipes can contribute to a refreshed feeling after a lengthy flight. While you might not have the luxury of an immediate shower upon landing, a wipe-down can make a significant difference.
6. If you don’t like turbulence, book an early morning flight
Benefits: A more relaxing flight experience.
Requirements: Booking an early morning flight.
Turbulence is an unpleasant aspect of flying that can induce anxiety and discomfort. An extended period of white-knuckle turbulence is not conducive to anyone’s peace of mind. Some individuals even resort to purchasing expensive medication to cope with it. While turbulence is sometimes inevitable, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of encountering it.
For a potentially smoother ride, consider booking an early morning flight. Turbulence is known to be more prevalent in the afternoon, so opting for a morning departure might decrease the chances of a turbulent journey. While it doesn’t guarantee turbulence-free travel, it could enhance the overall tranquility of your flight, allowing you to enjoy that pre-downloaded Netflix movie in a more serene environment.
7. Bring your own spare ziploc bags
Benefits: Facilitates convenient travel with liquids and ensures the safety of belongings.
Requirements: Ziploc bags.
When preparing for a trip, the thought of rushing to the kitchen to grab a pack of Ziploc bags might not immediately cross your mind. Nevertheless, allocating space for these bags in your suitcase is a highly practical idea for various reasons.
Even if you’ve already packed all your liquids, having Ziploc bags can prove invaluable. You might find yourself purchasing items at the airport unexpectedly. On the other hand, if you’re heading to a beach destination, placing your tech items inside a clear bag can provide protection while in use. In case you don’t have any at home, you can easily acquire them at stores for a relatively minimal cost.
8. Check-in 24-hours before your flight
Benefits: Avoid waiting in the check-in line, saving time and reducing stress.
Requirements: Online check-in.
In the days of yore, online check-in wasn’t even a consideration. However, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, nearly every contemporary airline offers this standard option. You can conveniently check in online up to 24 hours before your flight, bidding farewell to expensive last-minute cab rides to the airport.
This means you no longer have to endure standing in line for someone else to handle your check-in; instead, you can effortlessly breeze through with your electronic boarding pass already printed. The internet offers numerous advantages, and this is undoubtedly one of its better perks, showcasing its status as a modern marvel.
9. Take a photo of your checked luggage
Benefits: Easy identification at baggage claim, reducing the risk of picking up the wrong suitcase.
Requirements: A camera phone.
Cost: $100+ (free if you already have one)
In the realm of luggage, it’s not uncommon for many people to have identical bags, making it challenging to distinguish yours. While there are ways to make your suitcase more distinctive, it’s advisable to go a step further: take a quick picture of your luggage before checking it.
This simple step can be invaluable when you’re at the baggage claim area. By referring to the photo, you can be certain you’re grabbing the right suitcase, even if you believe you know which one is yours. After all, someone else might have acquired the exact same one at Target. It’s better to be safe than end up red-faced with a case of mistaken luggage identity!
10. Freeze your liquids to bring on planes
Benefits: Transport liquids through security hassle-free.
Requirements: A frozen bottle of water, etc.
With the longstanding ban on liquids in planes, limited to smaller containers, bringing a drink onboard can be a challenge. However, a simple solution is to freeze your bottle of water beforehand.
Freezing your beverage ensures it remains in a solid state during security checks. Be cautious, as even a slightly defrosted bottle might not pass muster, resulting in a wasted effort and expense. If you have a lengthy journey to the airport, this hack might not be the most convenient option for you.
11. Find the best seat on the plane when you check-in
Benefits: Ensure maximum comfort during your flight.
Choosing a comfortable seat on a flight can be a hit or miss, given the variety of planes and seat layouts across different airlines. Fortunately, SeatGuru comes to the rescue. This free tool allows you to search for seat reviews, providing insights into whether your chosen seat is a wise decision.
Advertisement When checking in, take the opportunity to find the best seat on the plane, courtesy of SeatGuru. Contributing your own seat review after the flight is not only a courteous gesture but also a way to pay it forward, potentially making a positive impact on the next passenger’s experience.
12. Fly red-eye
Benefits: Experience peace and quiet during your flight.
Requirements: Opt for a red-eye flight.
Flying during the night might not be the popular choice, as many prefer the comfort of their beds over an airplane seat. However, if you disdain crowded airports and seek a quieter travel experience, consider booking a red-eye flight—departing late at night and arriving early the next morning.
Advertisement Embrace the tranquility of a red-eye flight by reading on your Amazon Kindle, taking a long nap, and waking up at your destination. While it might not suit everyone, the serenity it offers can significantly enhance your flight experience at no additional cost.
13. Check ahead to see which restaurants and shops are at the airport
Benefits: Stay organized during your trip.
Requirements: Access to the internet and a good sense of direction.
Maintaining organization during your travels is crucial for a stress-free experience. To achieve this, utilize the internet and your navigational skills to plan ahead. Before heading to the airport, check which restaurants and shops are available. Not all airports offer a diverse range of dining and shopping options, and relying on fast-food establishments might compromise the quality of your meal and increase your expenses.
Advertisement By researching in advance, you gain the advantage of time to plan and explore menu options, preventing hasty decisions and ensuring you choose something you truly desire when you arrive. This approach not only enhances your travel organization but also contributes to a more enjoyable and satisfying journey.
14. Bring an empty water bottle
Benefits: Access to free water at the airport.
Requirements: Empty water bottle.
Cost: $1 or Free*
Airports often generate revenue from travelers purchasing snacks and drinks while waiting for their flights. If you frequently find yourself buying a bottle of water at check-in, here’s a cost-effective solution. Bring an empty water bottle with you and fill it up after passing through security.
Advertisement By adopting this strategy, you can have an ample supply of water without having to pay exorbitant prices for bottled water at the airport. This simple yet effective hack ensures that you stay hydrated without burdening your wallet with unnecessary expenses, making your journey more budget-friendly.
15. Always wear red clothing
Advantages: Enhanced visibility for friends to locate you in crowded airports.
Requirements: A red scarf, coat, hat, etc.
Navigating a bustling airport can be stressful, especially when trying to stay close to your travel companions. The challenge of staying together can lead to accidental separations. A simple and effective solution to this common issue is to wear a distinctive item, such as a bright red scarf, coat, hat, or any similar accessory.
Advertisement By incorporating this strategy, you increase your visibility in a crowd, making it easier for your friends to spot you and avoid the anxiety of searching through the airport. Even if red isn’t your typical choice, the practicality of being easily identifiable might outweigh color preferences when traveling with a group.
16. Always check your flight’s status before heading to the airport
Advantages: Avoid prolonged waiting times at the airport.
Requirements: Internet access.
Ensuring a successful trip often involves arriving at the airport with ample time; however, unexpected delays can disrupt your plans. Rather than assuming everything is on schedule, it’s wise to check your flight status before heading to the airport.
This proactive approach allows you to adjust your schedule accordingly. For instance, if your flight is delayed by a significant duration, you can comfortably wait at home instead of spending an extended period in the airport’s often uncomfortable waiting areas. This way, you can use the extra time to double-check your luggage and depart for the airport at a more suitable moment.
17. Keep a collection of hotel toiletries
Advantages: No need to purchase travel-sized toiletries.
Requirements: Hotel toiletries.
Checking into a hotel brings various enjoyable perks, such as plush pillows, blackout curtains, and room service. Another often overlooked benefit is the assortment of toiletries in the bathroom. These items are intended for your use and are yours to keep, even if you don’t use them during your stay.
By accumulating toiletries from hotels like Hilton, you can create a collection that will save you money in the long run. Instead of rushing to the store and spending a few dollars on travel-sized items, you can simply use the items from your collection for your future travels.
18. Sign up for a VIP airport lounge
Advantages: Enjoy comfortable VIP lounge experiences.
Requirements: Frequent flyer miles or a spare $40-$50.
Cost: As mentioned above.
The more you fly, the more perks you can accumulate. Airlines often offer frequent flyer miles as a way to encourage customer loyalty. These miles can be exchanged for VIP lounge memberships at airports. VIP lounges typically provide luxurious amenities, including comfortable seating, complimentary drinks, and entertainment.
Even if you don’t have frequent flyer miles, you may still access these lounges at certain airports. Some lounges offer day passes for around $50. While this might seem expensive, the enhanced airport experience, with added comfort and relaxation, can make it a worthwhile investment for your travels.
19. Avoid waiting in line to get your flight re-booked
Advantages: Avoid waiting in line for flight rebooking.
Requirements: A phone.
In the event of a flight cancellation, the natural instinct is to join the crowd at the airline desk to rebook. However, an effective alternative is to use your phone. Instead of navigating through long lines, call the airline directly.
The representative on the phone possesses the same capabilities as the one at the airport and can efficiently address your concerns. This approach not only provides a simple resolution but also allows for more time to discuss financial options with the operator.
20. Avoid wearing brightly colored coats and other clothing
Advantages: Less likely to undergo random security checks.
Requirements: A neutral wardrobe.
The security checkpoint is often a stressful part of air travel, and attracting attention can lead to prolonged scrutiny. Flight attendants suggest minimizing the chance of random checks by wearing neutral-colored clothing instead of bright and vibrant attire.
While not an absolute rule, opting for a cream coat over a bright blue one, for example, might reduce the likelihood of being singled out during security checks. This simple wardrobe choice could contribute to a smoother experience when catching a flight.