When you walk into an airport, you can tell who the frequent flyers are: they are the ones who march the airport walkways with a calm intensity that says, "I know where I’m going." They know how to navigate the airport, and more importantly, how to find the hidden benefits. Here are five tips straight from their playbook, which will make your next airport experience a better one.
Avoid the pickup area chaos
There is no rule that says you have to be picked up on the arrivals level. Have your ride pick you up at the departures level instead of the arrivals floor. If your flight arrives concurrent with several others, it is guaranteed to be busy on the arrivals level.
E-tickets and carry-on luggage
Checking in online is the fastest way to go. Some airlines will allow you to check in online for overseas trips after you provide additional information from your passport. If you have an e-copy of your boarding pass, you can breeze right through check in and head to security. If you are checking a bag, you will usually find an expedited line for baggage drop only.
The long layover
If you end up with a long layover, or if you miss a flight, don’t fret – you have options for passing the time. If the airport is close enough to the city, you can always head into town. Lounges are also another great option if you have membership or if day passes are available. Move into a more comfortable setting and head to the nearest business lounge where you can relax, take advantage of better Wi-Fi, free drinks, snacks, TVs to watch the news and an overall more exclusive environment. Some lounges will also have showers if you are in it for the long haul.
Be ready when you go through security
Unless you have TSA Pre-check, security will ask you to remove your shoes, coats and laptop when going through security. If you go through a regular metal detector, remove all metal from your pockets, all your jewelry, and electronics before you go through. If you go through a scanner, you must remove everything from your pockets. If you’re not sure what you can take with you through security, visit TSA’s restricted item web page.
Airports are getting bigger and bigger, often requiring a long walk between terminals in the major overseas hubs. Packing light will make the trek between your arrival and departure gates much more pleasant. Using a small roller bag instead of a backpack is a good option for moving around the terminals without putting stress on your shoulders for long periods.
Knowing the ins and outs of navigating the airport can dramatically improve your in-transit experience. If you miss your connection or the airline cancels a flight, be sure to have travel insurance to provide peace of mind and help you get your vacation back on track.
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