Everyone loves travelling, exploring new places, and grabbing exciting new opportunities that take them around the world. However, airports can prove to be a little of a struggle, but only when one is unprepared. Here are 20 airport hacks to help you glide through those airport lines like a pro.
1. Weigh your luggage at home
This way, you can gauge whether or not you can still add luggage or whether you need to remove some items from your bags. You can use your own home weighing scale to weigh your luggage so as to avoid extra luggage charges at the airport while checking in. You can also buy a portable weighing scale for baggage specifically so as to make sure your luggage weight is within limits, anytime and anywhere.
2. Pack dry home food instead of spending on expensive airport food
We Indians love our homecooked food, so carrying homecooked snacks are a given for us. However, you must make sure that these snacks are dry. Security checkers may make you remove any wet foods in case they spill while on board the flight. A good dry snack would be a packet (or packets, depending on how long the flight is) of dry fruits, health bars, nuts, or biscuits. This way, you also end up avoiding the expensive airport food which, although tempting, is not exactly healthy.
3. Have a set of airplane clothes
Again, depending on how long your flight is, carry an extra piece of clothing in your carry-on. If the flight is short (say, about 8 hours maximum) you shouldn’t need an extra piece of clothing. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that you carry at least an extra shirt. For long flights, it’s ideal to carry both a pair of pants and a top, since clothes get dirty and sweaty from all the walking around in airports, and staying in those clothes for long periods of time is basically unhygienic. Additionally, always, always carry a scarf and a jacket on your flight. It doesn’t matter if it’s sweltering hot in the place you’re at, but airports and airplanes do get cold, and you cannot do anything about it–definitely not go out for some fresh air–so it’s better to cover up!
4. Carry all liquids in a Ziploc
On international flights, you are required to carry liquids strictly in 100 ml bottles or less if you’re carrying any in your carry-on. Nevertheless, this tip applies for liquids in your suitcase and your carry-on alike, irrespective of domestic or international flights. Store all liquids in a plastic or Ziploc bag so as to avoid unnecessary spillage. In your suitcase, pack this bag in the middle of your clothes–this creates adequate cushioning for the bag, protecting the bottles and their contents. In your carry-on, pack as less bottles as you can, but if there are any necessary liquid items that you must carry, make sure they are below the 100 ml mark and packed securely in a Ziploc bag.
Pro-tip: cover the openings of the bottles with clingfilm and then screw in your lid, like this:
This will prevent any kind of leakage, as an extra measure.
5. Take a picture of your parking spot
In most major airports, you can park your vehicle in the provided parking space and then retrieve it once you have returned from your journey. But what if you forget where you’ve parked after coming back from a week or more of travel? Solution: take a picture of the parking spot and the pillar/ lot number. You can also make note of the two, if you want to save your phone memory some space (or if you’re like me, do BOTH). To be even more on the safer side, send those pictures or the details to a friend, in case you accidentally delete the information from your phone.
6. Carry a portable charger
This one is self-explanatory, really. You will most probably be carrying your actual charger too, yes. But what if there is no charging point in sight? What if you’re late for the flight and don’t have to time to charge? There’s a myriad of situations wherein you would find it impossible to plug in and charge your device. For this express purpose, carry a fully-charged powerbank throughout your journey. They do not require much space, and last you easily at least a week long.
7. Carry a universal adapter
Drawing on the previous point, it may also be that the hotel or place you’re staying at may not have the kind of plug-point your charger requires. This is especially common while going on international travel, and one ends up asking the hotel staff for an adapter (they usually don’t have one). To avoid this, carry a universal adapter and you’re good to go. They’re small in size and can be packed anywhere. You can buy them at your nearest electronic store, or even at the airport itself.
8. Carry an empty water bottle
Security checks require you to dispose of any water bottles that you may have prior to checking in. however, if you have an empty bottle, you’ll go through just fine. Instead of gulping down all the water so as to avoid wastage, and to save money from buying water bottles all the time, carry an a empty water bottle which you can fill once you’ve checked in and then fill it in at the nearest water cooler. Additionally, airline staff also refill your bottle on the flight in case you finish your water.
9. Wear shoes that are easily removable
Since you’ll be removing your shoes plenty of times for security checks, it’s ideal to wear shoes that are easily removable. However, since flights can get cold, it’s recommended that you wear socks as well. On longer flights, wearing sneakers is ideal, and you can wear them loose so as to quickly slip them off and slip them back on once you’re done with the checks.
10. Book your tickets early for cheapest flights
On an average, booking your tickets 55-57 days before your departure can assure you of getting some of the cheapest rates at the time. Other studies also claim that booking your ticket on a Tuesday around 3pm is an assurance of cheap tickets, since it is a working day and usually there’s less traffic on the websites.
11. Go incognito
Another tip for booking cheap flights is to browse booking websites and tickets while on the ‘Incognito’ mode on Google Chrome. Incognito makes you virtually invisible to the website(s) by not storing cookies and your search history, since companies may run background checks on your browser history to measure how many times you have been searching for travel tickets and then bump up the prices. To go Incognito, simply press Ctrl+Shift+N on your Google Chrome browser.
12. Make luggage more recognizable
It is more than easy to lose one’s baggage while retrieving it after a flight. Since everyone usually has generic colours such as black, dark blue, grey, khaki, etc., you could accidentally end up waiting for too long at the conveyor belt only to realize at the very end that your bag passed you at least twice. To counter this, you could tie colourful ribbons on your bag at easily noticeable places such as the handle. You could also put a big, bright name-tag that you can easily recognize from a distance. Alternatively, you could just straight up buy a suitcase which is bright in colour, such as pale blue, pink, or even red.
13. Head to the left checkpoint
Since a majority of the world’s population is right-handed, people usually join the right side queues of the security checkout desks. This leaves the left side more or less vacant, saving you your time and your patience.
14. Bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer
You never know whether you’ll get to wash your hands and face, so it’s always ideal to carry a pack of wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Your hands are exposed to all kinds of germs everywhere, and since the seal and artificially ventilated compartments of the airplane give plenty of leeway for germs to make a home, it’s always a good idea to keep clean at all times.
15. Regularly check your flight status
Although lots of airlines offer to notify you via e-mail or text about any sudden changes in flights, being alert and informed about the same wouldn’t hurt you. There’s lots of situations wherein you are failed to be notified about a change, and sometimes it might even be too late for you to do anything about it. Thus, regular checking up of your flight status is important.
16. Always confirm where your luggage is going to be
This happens on connecting flights: sometimes the airline will drop off your luggage at the transit location, and you have to change to a connecting flight and go through the security luggage check again. It may happen that the airline dispatched your luggage at your transit location and you had no idea, making you miss your luggage and being forced to file a missing complaint. Therefore, always ask the flight stewards to confirm where your luggage will be dispatched.
17. Keep all your documents ready for immigration
This saves time, effort, and keeps your security officials happy. Half of the time, since immigration lines are long, people do not keep all their documents at the ready thinking they can arrange them once they’re called. Sorting out your documents (as well as having a quick check at them, while you’re at it), when your number is close to being called will save you worry, time, and you’ll sail through the process swiftly.
18. Check-in online
I can personally vouch for this tip. Checking in online saves at least an hour of standing in line. When you check in online, all you have to do is stand in the queue (which is usually shorter), give in your luggage, and collect your tag, because guess what? You’ve already received your boarding pass on your device! To check in online, you must visit the airlines’ official websiteand search for “Online Check-In” option.
19. Keep your laptop in an easily accessible place
You will have to remove your laptop from your bag at least twice–one for immigration from your home country and the other time once you land. This number goes up when you have a connecting flight, since your laptop is your hand luggage. Thus, it’s ideal to keep it an easily accessible place at least for the checking in process. Once you’re in the flight, you can put it away safely.
20. Charge all your electronic devices
The importance of this tip cannot be stressed more. Not all airplanes have on-board charging facilities, and you always need your electronic devices for various purposes. Therefore, before leaving the house, always charge all of them to the fullest, as well as carry a portable powerbank as mentioned earlier.