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Navigating through airports, checking in on time, and making flight connections could be possibly the most stressful part of travel. Whether you’re a first time or seasoned traveler, getting through airports quickly and effectively is always the goal. These tips and tricks for navigating airports, avoiding queues, and checking luggage will have you traveling like a frequent flier.
AIRPORT TRAVEL TIPS
1. Check-In Online –
Avoid waiting in the horrendously long check-in lines, and check yourself in online the evening before your travel day. I also make sure to download the airline’s app for online check-in, mobile boarding pass, and flight status updates.
2. Print or Screenshot Your Boarding Pass –
Once you have checked in, either print or screenshot your boarding pass, even if you have it on an app. This will ensure that you’re not relying on slow, airport wifi to retrieve your plane ticket.
3. Avoid Checking Luggage –
If possible, try to avoid the hassle of checking luggage. Not only will this save you time at the airport, but also future headaches while traveling. Though, in the case that you have to, be sure to weigh your bags prior to arriving at the airport. Trust me, it’s never fun to be rearranging items between suitcases in the middle of the airport.
4. Join a Frequent Flyers Program or Credit Card –
Nearly every airlines have a frequent fliers program or airline miles credit card. I highly recommend sticking to a favorite airline to not only reap the benefits of accruing flight miles, but also benefits like the first bag checked free, airport lounge access, priority boarding, and more. My personal favorite has been the Delta American Express SkyMiles Card, the discounted lounge access is truly a travel lifesaver.
5. Pack Snacks & An Empty Water Bottle –
Airport food tends to be unhealthy, overpriced, and usually lacking in flavor. Avoid subpar airplane cuisine and pack your own snacks. Bonus, pack a collapsible water bottle that you can easily fill up after security.
6. Arrive Early –
The rule of thumb for pre-flight arrival time is typically 1 hour before domestic flights, and 2 hours prior to international flights. If you’re checking luggage, add 30 minutes to your arrival time.
7. Dress Appropriately –
Traveling can be uncomfortable and hectic, so dress in something cozy. And no, this does not mean arriving to the airport in your pajamas or workout clothes. Think loose fitting pants or black leggings, a nice looking, but comfortable top, a sweater for layering, and of course a scarf. Also, footwear should be easily removed to save time at security.
8. Strategic Carry On Packing –
On the note of making it through security, it’s very important how you pack your carry on bag. For starter’s isolate all liquids to a medium size ziplock bag, and make sure all containers are under 100 ml (3 oz). Next, pack your laptop or tablet in an easy to reach compartment so you can unpack and repack it through the security check.
9. TSA Pre-Check –
If you’re someone who travels often, it’s definitely recommended to invest in TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. This will literally save you hours in security and passport control lines. If you do not have Global Entry, I also recommend downloading the app, Mobile Passport, which can help you bypass the customs queues when re-entering the United States, if you’re an American citizen.
10. Get to Your Gate –
After clearing security, head straight to your gate to check for any updates, delays, or maybe even a chance to upgrade. Once you have your bearings on your boarding time, feel free to pick up any last minute flight essentials.
11. Boarding –
Unless you’re in business or first class, do not try to rush to board. Not only will you just be stuck waiting in a queue, but you have less of a chance of being able to change your seat, or find an open row on board.