Passing through airports has become a bit of a chore, with security tighter than ever and hordes of people. Our airport travel hacks will help you breeze through…
The post 9/11 world means more security checks and stricter rules on what we can take on flights. But, if you know how to play the game, you can easily hack airports. Avoid being searched or having your bag taken aside, save money and even get some rest!
1.Carry An Extra Bag In Your Carry On Bag
A small fabric bag or shopping bag in your main carry on bag is handy for putting bits that you actually need for the flight. Put books, headphones, food etc in this bag and when you board the plane, take it out of your main bag (which you stow in the lockers etc. It will save you from going through all the contents of your bulky bag for those elusive headphones!
2.Bring A Bottle
We all know about the 100ml rule, which means no water. Bring a reusable water bottle (make sure you empty it before passing through security) and then top it up when you get through the other side. By law (in the EU at least) there has to be a tap for public drinking water, although they’re often hidden or have a bad flow. Most cafes in the airport will top up your bottle if you ask nicely (or use the free water jugs at the chain coffee places).
3.Multi Plug Adaptors
Seeing as we’re all carrying multiple devices these days, its good to stay charged. A reliable plug adaptor with all the extensions is an essential, especially if you’re doing a bit of globe trotting. We recommend this adaptor with plug extensions for over 200 countries plus 3 x USB. Most airports have various points where you can charge your phone, but so do most cafes in the airport. Be prepared!
4.Digital Boarding Passes
Still carrying a paper boarding pass?? Those days are long gone. Pretty much every airline these days will offer the option to download a digital copy of their boarding pass, which means you don’t need to search through your pockets for that piece of paper. Screenshot the pass and save it in your photos – and, for backup – put a copy on any other digital device you’re carrying (such as a tablet) and if you have a travel partner make sure you both have copies of each others.
5.Wear More Clothes
Over packed slightly? If you’re carrying a few bulky items of clothing that won’t go in your carry on luggage, try and wear them through security and boarding. If you’re heading somewhere warm this might just mean wearing an extra jumper and light jacket, if you’re going colder climes then wear that big jacket and your thickest jumper – and if you need to make more room, put some stuff in your pockets (chargers, camera accessories etc).
6.Take Stuff Out At Security
The whole security and x-ray part of the airport experience is the most stressful part and is where you’re most likely to get held up. If in doubt, take it out of your bag and put it in the tray (or if possible in another tray). If the guys doing the x-ray can’t work out what that weird thing is in your bag then they’ll pull it to the side and you’ll get held up. All electricals, medical items or funny shaped souvenirs should be popped in the tray for easy visual inspection. However, this doesn’t guarantee you won’t get pulled aside, just makes it less likely.
7.Take Your Clothes Off
Metal zips on hoodies, belt buckles, shoes with zips, jewellery… Take it off and pop it in the tray. It will save you getting intimate with the guys at security.
BUT – Don’t forget to pick your stuff up at the other side!
According to psychologists, we’re more likely to join a queue that aligns with our dominant hand meaning the queue on the right can be longer. Go against the grain and go left…
However, a quick glance can usually tell you which is the longer queue.
9.Read The Queue
When going through customs the speed of the queue depends on a multitude of factors including how many posts are open at the head, who is in the queue and the mood/methods of the guard at the front. Sometimes the bigger queue is going faster because there is an extra gate open you can’t see, or the guy is simply more efficient at his job. As you approach try and read which queue is actually moving faster and even if it’s bigger, join it. There is nothing more annoying than joining a smaller queue that is still there when the bigger one has been emptied…
Hand sanitizer and wet wipes are your friend. If you’re not a fan of wet wipes then a damp flannel is also handy to give yourself a refreshing wipe down in the toilets on arrival or departure.
Oh and don’t over-do it on the duty free perfume. It’s OK to be lightly scented but if you smell like you’ve had a bath in Dior perfume it can be a bit overbearing for your seat buddy.
11.Buy Something In The Airport
Airlines can be strict about what you take on their flights to avoid overcrowding. If you have some over spill, buy something in the airport (even something small) and get a carrier bag. You can then pop your excess bits into the bag!
The liquid allowance means we can be at the mercy of the airport when it comes to water and drinks. But, you can take pretty much whatever food you want on the plane. Avoid foil wrap (problems at security with that one) and smelly foods like garlic, spices or processed meats. Nuts, dried fruits and a few sandwiches are always a good idea.
13.Put A Tag On Your Bag
Even if you’re flying with hand luggage only you can often end up putting your bag in the hold. Unless your bag is very distinctive it can be handy to have an identifying tag on it – maybe a scarf or ribbon. This will save you grabbing the wrong generic wheelie bag off the carousel when you arrive.
14.Read Up On Your Airport
There is always lots of information about whichever airports you are flying from/to. Check out Sleeping In Airports which is a mine of useful info about airports and have their own airport hacks. You can find out if there’s places to sleep, wash or clever little insider tricks such as free bus tours (if you’re on a long stopover) or even free food/hotels.
15.Free Airport Lounges
Think airport lounges are just for frequent fliers and businessmen? Actually, airport lounges are accessible to all, sometimes without paying a penny. In the UK, Natwest Black Account and Barclays Bank Rewards customers can get free access to airport lounges in many airports around the world.
In any event, you can also access an airport lounge for around GB£20 per person, or if you’re a regular, pay for an annual subscription with Priority Pass.
Bear in mind an airport lounge is a privately operated area offering comfy seats and often a self service buffet area which can (but doesn’t always) include free alcohol. An airline lounge is one operated by a major airline (such as BA or Virgin) and is only for customers using their premium services or paying for access.
Heading off on your travels soon? We hope that our airport hacks help you to have a better airport experience (we know it’s not usually the most pleasant part of your holiday – especially Stateside!). We’d love to hear your own airport or airline travel hacks so drop us a comment below. Don’t forget to share!