Why did I pick this line? it’s the slowest one...
How am I supposed to know the WiFi password?!
12€ for a chicken sandwich?!
Sounds familiar? It probably does if you’re still unaware of the best airports tips that will make your trip easier and stress-free.
Whether you’re a first-time flyer or an expert traveler, you don’t want to feel like going through hell once at the airport. I’ve gathered some airport tips and hacks you never knew that will make you feel and look like an experienced traveler!
The Best Airport Tips… before going to the airport
1. Find the best seat before booking
Even if you’ve started flying only recently, you might have guessed that all seats are not equal. Everyone knows that being in the middle seat sucks: you don’t get to admire the view as easily as the window seat and can’t get a trouble-free access to the restroom as the aisle seat does. And I don’t even mention the lack of space should your lucky neighbors also steal your armrests.
Websites such as Seat Guru will show you reviews of seats on the very plane you’re planning to take, as well as where to find USB ports and power outlets - yes, some airplanes do have those, even though it seems like it’s never yours. If you're a first-time flyer, my tip is to choose the seat that will help you overcome your fear of flying.
By the way, some airplane builders have heard you and are starting to improve the middle seat!
2. Book a Red-Eye flight (or fly early in the morning)
Fear the crowd? When you’re flexible on your schedule and don’t mind a late departure, consider a red-eye flight. It takes off at night (between 9 pm and 7 am) and is generally way less packed than the others. There might be even fewer people for a flight early in the morning: most people don't want to wake up early enough to be at the airport around 5am, even though you don't need to arrive too early at the airport.
But that’s not the only benefits of flying by night. Taking such a flight can turn out to be much cheaper as well. Plus, imagine the awesome night pictures that you’ll be able to post on your Instagram to prove how cool a traveler you are.
The best part? If you’re traveling on a budget, keep in mind that you’re saving a night in accommodation fees, and when you land, you have the whole day ahead of you!
Doesn’t look bad, right? Of course, securing a window seat helps.
3. Check your flight status in real time
Most airlines let you check your flight status online - this way, you will know in advance if it is delayed or canceled - which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go check-in nonetheless!
My expert tip? Download App in the Air before leaving. It lets you track your flight and will update you in the case that there is a change. You also get tips from the travelers’ community, from the best restaurants or places to charge your phone at the airport.
A very good alternative is Flio. With their comprehensive airport maps, you’ll find everything you need right away. By experience, it will save you the hassle of looking for the toilets with a full bladder during your layover. The app also gives you access to great deals for food shopping. And considering the prices at the airport, that’s not negligible...
Discover some more of the best travel apps!
Want the best tip to get free WiFi at the airport? Keep reading, I’m telling you everything further down!
4. Download offline maps before leaving
Remember the time when you had to take 63 screenshots of the map to make sure you’ll know how to go to your destination once you land? That was yesterday. Maybe even the day before that.
Google Maps now lets you download and access registered maps offline. If you don’t have free WiFi when you land, that could come in handy.
My top favorite app for this though is Maps.Me. Once you’ve downloaded the map of the desired location, it works completely offline and is extremely detailed. Also a useful feature the app boasts is to let you add pins to remember a place you’ve been or want to go to.
Just like this, but in your phone
5. Pack your own snack
It might not seem like it, but it's a great airport hack to save money. I mean, for 12€ the chicken sandwich, I’d expect the rest of the chicken with roasted potatoes! If you’re a frequent flyer you’re familiar with the overpriced airport salespoints.
Bring your own sandwich, nuts and cereal bars, candy and other fruits, if you're on a budget. Our favorite food and travel bloggers have a few tips of their own to give you inspiring ideas for a snack at the airport.
It doesn’t look so complicated, even I could do it at home!
6. Invest in a power bank before leaving
This is by far one of my most precious items when I travel. When you see a large group of people at the airport, they are either queuing for the security check or have found a charging station. In any case, you don’t really want to go there.
Instead, buy a portable charger. They’re available to every budget, just make sure that it’s powerful enough to charge your phone completely at least once. You’ll find the device to be useful not only at the airport but also during your flight (if you forgot to charge your phone before leaving) or even during your trip: it’s not always easy to find a place to charge your electronics.*That’s how you’ll feel. Except that YOU also look awesome*
7. Take a few Ziploc bags with you
It's one of my favorite travel hacks, also among my top picks of items to take with you for every flight. You can put your sandwich there, or your other snacks.
I used them to store my electronic devices and make sure that even if there’s a leak somewhere, my phone and laptop will be safe.
The best use of Ziploc I’ve seen so far? Put your clothes inside: it saves an incredible amount of space and guarantees they’ll reach the destination dry.
For some more genius travel hacks, check out what BuzzFeed compiled from Instagram.
8. Check-in online
I already detailed all the reasons why you should check-in online, but the one that you need to remember is: it's an easy airport tip that will save you an incredible amount of time, especially if you’re only traveling with a carry-on.
Otherwise, you’ll still have to go to the counter and queue up. While some airports have a “luggage only” line which is faster than the regular check-in counter, it’s unfortunately not always the case. You should still check-in online though: it gives the airline a signal that you are more likely to show-up for your flight. This way, they probably won't overbook the flight and deny you boarding.
Airport tips and tricks... before checking in / dropping your luggage
9. Take pictures of your parking spot
Section W, level 3, parking C1… If you want to spare yourself the struggle with the parking lot’s architecture when searching for your car on the way back, just take a couple of pictures after parking and you won’t need to remember the details. Again, it's a simple airport tip that might save you time on the way back.
But if you ARE coming by car, I strongly suggest that you look for cheaper parking before leaving. In the US, I recommend Discount Park & Ride, and Looking4parking for Europe. You can save so.much.money. by using these services.
10. Check for free WiFi
Most airports grant you a free WiFi access. Some of them will let you connect for free only for a limited time though. And some will ask for a password which you obviously don’t know.
Now imagine a world where you’d have access to all WiFi passwords of airports around the world... Well, the map below grants you that wish. Just select the airport and you’ll find the associated password. You’re welcome!
11. Wrap a colorful ribbon or put a sticker on your luggage
The awkward moment when two other passengers from the same flight have the same luggage...
If you don’t fancy opening your luggage in front of everyone to prove that this is indeed your luggage, make yours stand out from the rest. Wrap something on the handle, add a ClaimCompass sticker, purposefully break a zipper (don’t): anything to identify it right away on the conveyor.
I would claim it mine even if it’s not and run away. So. Cool.
12. Wear your extra items... or ask for a shopping bag
Be sure to verify your luggage allowance before leaving. But if you forgot and it turns out that you’re a little bit over the limit, wait a second before paying the ridiculously high extra fees (as though paying more would make the plane lighter anyway...).
Instead, put on a few more clothes from your luggage or put the heavy objects in your pockets as much as possible. That's what I call a last-resort airport tip. Again, in the end, everything will get on the plane and it makes no difference whatsoever to the final weight of the plane, but let’s try to comply with the rule.
Another sneaky trick is to ask for a plastic bag in one of the many shops at the airport. Put you extra stuff inside and the agents at the gate will simply assume that it’s a purchase that you just made. Is it cheating? Let’s rather call it a payback deception.*”Oh my luggage is too heavy? How about now?” * ### 13. Look out for the business and first-class line
The majority of people are righties and will pick the line on the right - don’t ask me how the brain works, that’s just how it is according to research. Some airports also have a hidden security line, away from the rest, often faster than all the rest. So as a rule of thumb, you should take the line on the left.
Taking the left line is also the right choice because it’s usually the closest to the business and first-class one. Being on average less busy, the agents responsible for these lines sometimes let people on economy check-in with them to save time.
However, if the business line is on the right, I’d recommend sticking to the closest line on the right and forget all of the above. That’s what really matters.
How to get through airport security fast?
We have a full post on the topic, but here are some of the most useful hacks on the topic.
14. Have your laptop and other electronics ready
Still in the airport packing tips category. You’ll be asked to take them out of your bag when passing through security. Keep them separated from the rest of your luggage to save time. If you’re flying with a backpack only, my technique is to put them on top (in a Ziploc bag).
You may occasionally be asked to turn on all your electronic devices. Make sure that your laptop isn’t off but only in sleep mode, if you don’t want to have to waste some more time.
This should be easily accessible. And that coffee frozen solid.
15. Get naked before reaching the front of the line
Ok, don’t take that too literally. But admit that between the shoes, belt and other metallic items to remove, it’s not so far from the truth. And should you still fail the metal detector test, you’re in for a close-in with the back of unknown security agents’ hands.
To reduce the chances that this will happen to you and save a lot of time, start setting aside your keys, electronic devices, belt and travel documents before you actually reach the conveyor. You might even beat some slow passengers to the line. Totally worth it.*I hope you won’t get such and intrusive agent...*
16. Bring an empty bottle
One of my all-time favorite airport security tips. Get rid of all your liquids above 100 ml, they won’t be accepted at the security check. However, an empty bottle, even if it can potentially contain more than the authorized limit, WILL pass through without any problem. The trick is to fill it with tap water afterward, and you got yourself a free bottle of water.
I shouldn’t write that, but consider “borrowing” the shampoo bottles from hotels as well next time: they’re usually the perfect rule-abiding size.
Another airport hack that comes in super handy for long-haul flights is to freeze your liquids at home. Because technically, solid water (or other drink) is not a liquid, it’ll pass security as easily as a letter at the post. Or as an email via Gmail. Just keep in mind that for a couple of hours of flight only, it’s unlikely that the ice will melt before you reach your destination.
And there are still some debates over this technique.
Travel Tips for flying... inside the plane
17. Bring a scarf or a sweater
Airplanes and airports can feel very cold if you're not moving around. Bring a warm piece of clothing along with you. Worst case scenario: you don’t need it but can still use it as a pillow once you're on board.*Yes, you will also look fabulous with it*
Actually, if you can bring a blanket, it's even better: it helps you keep your body at the appropriate temperature to fall asleep more easily once you're on board.
18. Take some hydrating cream and wear your glasses
Your skin and eyes will get dry faster once the aircraft reaches high altitudes. I’m not saying that you’ll be all wrinkled when the plane lands, but a small tube of hydrating cream wouldn’t be a bad idea to treat your baby skin as it should.
Try to avoid wearing your contacts if you have a pair of glasses that you can replace them with. It will probably be more comfortable.
19. Bring a hand sanitizer
I’m really far from being a hypochondriac - I’m actually a fierce advocate of the food-on-the-floor-for-less-than-3-seconds-can-still-be-eaten rule. However, airplanes and airports are a germs’ nest - don't forget your sanitizer.
20. If your flight is delayed or canceled, check if you’re available for compensation
The EU Regulation N°261/2004 entitles air passengers victims of delay, cancellation, and overbooking to up to 600€ in compensation. Of course, airlines don’t advertise it and often make it a hard and long process to claim by yourself, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the law.
At ClaimCompass, we help you get your compensation if the airline screwed up your flight. Submitting your claim takes only a couple of minutes, after which you just have to sit back and relax, we’ll do the rest. It’s that easy.
*Source: Chicago Tribune
Bonus: If you’re not traveling on a budget... some more travel tips for flying like a pro: sign up to everything
Sign up for a Frequent Flyer program
It will give you all sorts of advantages, from taking the priority line even with an economy ticket to cumulating miles that will add up to discounts on future trips. Holly Johnson ranked the best Frequent Flyer programs of 2017 and elected Southwest Rapid Rewards first, Delta’s SkyMiles coming second. For European airlines, British Airways’ Avios is the best.
But then again, the “best” program is above all the one of the airline you most regularly fly with.
Sign up for TSA Pre-Check (and Global Entry, if you’re eligible)
If you really want to save time in all US airports, sign up for TSA Pre-Check. For a $85 membership, you can forget all about removing shoes, belts, laptops, and liquids for the next 5 years. You can apply online, schedule a face-to-face interview that will include a background check. And that’s all.
And for international travelers residing in the US, the Global Entry program of the US Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) will clear you back for entry much faster. You’ll get the same advantages as TSA Pre-Check, after you’been through another thorough interview and background check. And paid at the moment of the application the $100 one-time, non-refundable-even-if-denied fee. Everything has a price.
Sign up for a VIP airport lounge
You’ll get access to more comfy seats, free (and good) food, drink (alcohol included), internet, and sometimes, depending on the airport, showers and sleeping rooms. This could be a valuable investment if you’re a frequent traveler who wants to kill time during layovers.
Congratulations: with these airport tips, you're a travel expert!
Now that you’re a certified travel expert, a real pro at getting along on airports, share your own best airport tips with ClaimCompass on Facebook! And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more travel hacks!
And don't forget to subscribe to the ClaimCompass newsletter: in addition to travel tips that you won't find on the blog, you'll get a free checklist to know if you're entitled to compensation from your airline!
See you around, traveler!
Want to get a summary of these awesome airport tips? Here you go!
You might also be interested in: