Running through an airport in attempt to catch your flight on time is the stuff of nightmares. And security these days? It can be brutal. If the entire process of getting through the airport stresses you out from start to finish, try these easy tips to make your next trip a breeze.
1. Download the airline app.
Do it before you arrive at the airport (ideally the day before so that you can check in). The app will alert you to any flight delays, cancellations, and gate changes; allow you to choose or change your seat; and will give you real-time flight information that may be essential to your travels. You can also use the app to access your mobile boarding pass. Some airlines, like United, have apps that also allow travelers to access entertainment through the WiFi but only if you have the app before you're in the air.
2. Give yourself time.
Word to the wise: don't cut it close when it comes to air travel. There are too many things that can go wrong — traffic on the way to the airport, long lines at check-in or security, changes in gates, or other issues with the airline — to risk waiting until the very last minute to head to the airport. Give yourself time so that you don't have to panic that you're going to miss your flight. Running through the airport and barely making it your gate on time is no fun — trust me.
3. Carry on your luggage.
Carrying on your luggage means avoiding the lines for checking your bags and eliminates the possibility of your items getting lost or damaged. Skip the hassle, and bring everything on board with you for an overall less stressful airport experience.
4. Pack smart.
You'd be surprised just how much better your airport experience can be if you know how to pack smart. If you're carrying on your luggage instead of checking it, then going through airport security can be stressful unless you've organized your belongings in the most efficient way for getting past TSA. Don't pack liquids that are more than 3.4 ounces, pack your laptops in a place that's easy to reach since many airports require that you remove them when going through security, and have anything else that may need to be taken out (like your toiletries) easily accessible.
5. Be prepared to go through security.
"Digging through your carry-on while everyone glares at you is literally the worst feeling, so double, triple check to make sure that you don't have anything in your carry-on that'll hold up the line. Start taking off the items that need to go into the bin and onto the conveyor belt before you actually get there," says iFly Luggage. Get through airport security faster by being prepared long before it's your turn.
6. Bring a water bottle and snacks.
You never know when hunger may hit you, and there's nothing worse than a growling stomach in a long line, or worse, on a long flight. "Airports are stressful enough without hunger taking over and making those long lines an even bigger nightmare," says iFly. Make sure your snack game is on lock with goodies like granola bars, fresh fruit (firmer is better), trail mix, and pretzels and hummus (just make sure to keep it under 3.4 ounces). Pack a water bottle that you can empty before you go through security, then refill on the other side, in order to save you money.
7. Always have entertainment on hand.
Download your favorite movies, TV shows, and games to your phone or iPad, and always have a physical book or magazine available as backup in case any of your devices die. You'll be glad you have something to keep your mind off airport lines, delayed flights, and frustrating fellow travelers.
8. Be nice to airport employees!
This is a big one. "Airport employees work long, demanding hours. They deal with hundreds of people a day and they've got to work quickly and efficiently while under all kinds of pressure. Kindness is contagious, pass it on," says iFly. Being nice to airport employees (or flight attendants, for that matter) can go a long way, especially if there's an issue with your flight. You'll find that people are more willing to help out a smiling traveler than one who is on the defensive or angry.