If you are flying during any busy time, from the holiday season to regular busy days/hours the key to avoiding stress and making it to the other end unscathed is to utilize these professional traveler, tried and tested airport travel hacks.
1. Always Check In Online
Checking in online 24 hours prior to your flight gives you several advantages. You are less likely to be bumped from your flight and you will already have your boarding pass. When you arrive at the airport unless you are checking a full sized suitcase you can move straight to the TSA checkpoint.
Airlines will let you gate check oversized bags for free, so you can save yourself $30 checked luggage fee by doing it at the gate.
2. Arrive Early
You may be able to get away with arriving later for flights during non-busy times, but during high traffic periods plan on arriving at the airport 2-3 hours early. The most stressful parts of flying on busy travel days are getting stuck in long lines either at check in or at the TSA check point. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra time up your sleeve – worst case scenario you have a coffee or something to eat once you have gone through the TSA check point.
3. Use The TSA App
Use the TSA app to see how long the wait times are. If they are looking excessive you can leave home earlier than planned.
4. Pack Your Carry-On Properly
One of the reasons that TSA gets so backed up is that travelers don’t think ahead when packing their carry-on luggage.
If you don’t have TSA pre check you know up front that your liquids and laptops will have to be taken out of your bag before going through the x-ray machine. Save yourself (and everyone else) time and aggravation by having your liquids/skin care/makeup products packed together in see through bags packed at the top of your carry on.
5. Be Ready For TSA
Another reason that lines get so backed up at the TSA checkpoint is travelers arriving not ready to proceed through.
*If you don’t have TSA Pre Check be sure to wear shoes that slip on and off easily.
* Remove all jewelry, belts, small change from your pockets, jackets, hats, scarves prior to entering the TSA line. Ideally do this before you leave home, and put on belts and jewelry after passing through the xray machines.
*Have your bags and coats ready to go through the xray prior to getting to the front of the line.
If you watch frequent flyers/professional travelers you will see that they have all of this thought out and prepared prior to arriving at the checkpoint.
6. Turn Left
Most people are right handed, so after having their I.D and boarding pass checked they turn right to the x-ray machines. The lines are always quicker to the left.
7. Bring Snacks
On busy travel days and busy flight times the lines at the terminal snack bars can get long. It is much easier and less stressful to bring your own snacks and just proceed to the gate.
8. Bring A Phone Charger
Always arrive at the airport with a fully charged phone and a fully charged phone charger. You can’t rely on their being power socket/charging stations available, and even if there are phone charging ports at your seat on the plane there is no guarantee they will be working.
9. Bring A Refillable Water Bottle
Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at a filling station once you have cleared TSA. Should you encounter delays you will be glad you did!
10. Gate Check Bags
Most domestic flights now are fully booked which means they run out of overhead bin space. Save yourself the hassle of wandering up and down the aisle trying to find space for your carry-on bag by checking it at the gate.
There is no fee for gate checked bags and they get walked directly down to your plane, so unless you have a connecting flight you can be relatively certain your bag will arrive when you do.
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