Hassle-Free Airport Experience
Airports can be a nightmare. If you put in effort to prep beforehand, though, it can be much less stressful. Follow these simple tips for a hassle-free airport experience next time you travel. When booking a flight, always utilize the airline’s seat selection tool to choose a seat closest to the front of the plane. This allows you to board last and exit the plane first upon arrival.
Traveling alone and, especially, without children make for an overall easier airport experience, but preparation is crucial in any instance.
Try to pack everything into a carry-on and your allotted personal item, unless you can check a bag for free and are traveling for an extended period of time. Be careful not to overpack your carry-on, though–larger bags are more susceptible to gate-check, which defeats the purpose of packing in a carry-on. Label your bags ahead of time so that you don’t have to do so at the airport.
Pack and organize all essentials and medication in your personal item for easy access. A good suggestion is to keep chargers, cords, a pen and headphones in a small pouch and medicine, lotion, lip balm, gum and disinfecting wipes in another. Bring an empty water bottle with you to fill up after security at a water fountain in your terminal. It’s important to stay hydrated while traveling and this lets you avoid overpaying for water in the airport.
Arrange for transportation pick-up ahead of time, such as booking a car service or researching public transit options. This saves time once you land.
If you don’t have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry—which you should apply for—be sure that your laptop and liquids are readily accessible at security. Wear a comfortable, hassle-free outfit to speed up your security process as well.
Check-in to your flight and download your boarding pass to your smartphone, if possible, ahead of time–print your boarding pass if a digital option is not available. This allows you to see your boarding time before arriving to the airport and you can head straight to security once you get there. For domestic flights, try to arrive 60 minutes before boarding time, and 90 minutes for international flights.
At the Airport
If you’ve prepped beforehand, you should be able to walk straight to security at your terminal and go right through when you arrive at the airport. This should take around 20-30 minutes, depending on when you’re traveling, and under 10 if you’re enrolled in TSA precheck. The best benefit of this is that you don’t need to remove anything from your person or your bag. Global Entry allows the same but for international flights.
Head directly to your gate after security and note the closest bathroom and news shop or restaurant. Try to avoid buying anything at the airport, but if you’re in for a long flight and don’t want the in-flight meal, you should grab a bite to eat during this time. If all goes according to plan, you should have about 30 minutes until boarding. Use this time to go to the restroom, fill up your water bottle, possibly get some food and stretch.
If your flight is delayed, make sure you know your cancelation rights so you know if you can ask to be switched to another airline or compensated for meals and accommodation.
Try to board towards the end of the boarding process since you’re going to be on the airplane for a long time anyway. If it’s a shorter flight, though, overhead space may be limited so you’ll want to board sooner to avoid gate-checking your carry-on.
Once You Land
You should be able to exit the plane quickly at this point if you booked a seat towards the front and you can exit the airport right away since you packed in a carry-on. If you’re flying internationally, fill out the customs form on the plane, with that pen you packed in your personal item, and go straight to the customs line. Once you’re outside the airport, locate your pre-arranged transportation and begin your vacation!
Ashley Rossi, SmarterTravel.com | April 26, 2016
This is a very helpful guide for airports! It can be quite an unbearable experience!April 11, 2017
Arranging for transportation pick-up ahead of time is excellent advice. Having a ride ready as soon as you leave the airport could help ensure you get to your final destination as quickly as possible. Looking into different types of transport services in the area before your flight would probably help you find the safest and most reliable company.April 4, 2017
Thanks for the tips on arranging for transportation ahead of time. When I am traveling I find that it is a lot easier when I call the service before hand. I’ll have to remember to try to plan everything ahead of time so my travels are less stressful.February 22, 2017
Thank for the helpful tips about prepping for a trip. It’s a great idea to arrange for transportation ahead of time when traveling. After a long flight, the last thing I want to worry about is finding a car service in an unfamiliar city. It would be smart to find a company that lets you make reservations in advance online. You would also want to make sure that they are able to take you to your destination.February 7, 2017
I’m wanting to go on a trip with my mom and family but I’m concerned about her disabilities. It makes sense that prearranging transportation could be helpful to ensure there are no problems when trying to get away from the airport. It’s something I’ll have to remember because trying to find a taxi that can fit my family as well as our luggage and a wheelchair could be difficult without prior arrangements.January 9, 2017
I’m going on vacation and need to get transportation. Thanks for the advice about how you should arrange for pick up ahead of time. Another thing to do is to get a licensed company to pick you up and take you to the airport.September 14, 2016
I like that you pointed out that you should arrange your transportation to the airport ahead of time. I don’t particularly like leaving my car anywhere for a long time. It seems like it would be a better for me to think about having a professional service take me to the airport the next time. Do you know just how far in advance you should get in contact with a transportation service?July 27, 2016
I’m going on a vacation and need to get a ride to the airport. Thanks for the advice about how you should try to pack everything in a carry-on and that you should schedule rides in advance to save time when you land. Hopefully, I can get a good transportation service that is certified and licensed to take me to and from the airport.June 29, 2016