Getting through the airport before your flight can be a stressful experience for most, but it doesn’t have to be with these airport travel hacks!
I’m excited to be sharing with you my top airport hacks for you to navigate the airport stress-free and with ease.
As a seasoned traveler who has navigated numerous terminals and flights, I’ve refined these strategies to ensure a seamless experience and use them every time I travel.
My hacks will save you time and the headache that often comes with airports! You are going on vacation so why not start it off right? Try these airport hacks next time you travel and enjoy your stress-free travel!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase anything through my links at no extra cost to you.
1. Check-in Early and Online
If you don’t already know, you can check in for your flight 24 hours in advance online.
By checking in online, you have the flexibility to choose your preferred seat, whether it’s an aisle for easy access or a window for a scenic view.
Most airlines now also offer mobile boarding passes, reducing the need for printed documents, allowing for a more seamless boarding process, and minimizing the number of physical documents you need to carry, keeping your journey more organized and efficient.
Checking in early also allows you to skip the line at the check-in desk, especially if you only have a carry-on, you can skip the check-in desk altogether.
Also, a lot of airlines have a separate line for dropping off checked luggage which is always much quicker than the check-in line.
Checking in online is one huge advantage to making your time at the airport stress-free and one I highly recommend doing if you aren’t already!
2. Use Skycap To Check In Your Luggage
Most airports have this hidden gem right outside the front doors! You can drop your checked luggage off with them and skip the long lines inside. Even if your airline has a designated bag drop-off area, Skycap is still often quicker.
By entrusting them with your checked luggage, you not only bypass the lengthy lines inside but also contribute to a smoother check-in process.
Most airlines have this service for free, however, it is highly encouraged to tip the workers. They work very hard in all types of weather and likely will save you at least 30 minutes of standing in line!
I can’t tell you how many times I have walked by a very very long line inside for people to check their bags after I had stood outside for less than 5 minutes to check my bag with Skycap and then went on my merry way, especially if the weather isn’t great, there sometimes isn’t even a line!
3. Keep Important Documents & Items In One Spot
This hack is so simple but so helpful when you’re traveling. I typically keep every document I might need to pull out at some point between getting to the airport and getting to the hotel at my destination in one folder and in a secure pocket in my carry-on.
A secure folder in an inside pocket ensures that documents such as boarding passes, identification, and reservation confirmations are easily accessible.
This meticulous organization not only saves you from frantic searches but also adds a layer of security to your journey.
There’s nothing worse than being in a rush and having to search through your luggage for your papers.
Save yourself the stress and keep it all together! Just be sure you have them in a secure inside pocket in your carry-on so no one can snatch them or you don’t lose them!
4. Check Out Other Security Checkpoints
Beyond the standard security checkpoint lies an insider’s hack – researching alternative security checkpoints at your destination airport.
Most airports have a map of their security checkpoints on their website which allows you to bypass the often-crowded initial checkpoints.
Before your trip check online the different security checkpoints you can use in the airport that you probably wouldn’t have known about when you get there! Especially if it’s at an airport you don’t frequently fly out of.
People typically go to the first security checkpoint they see which causes huge lines.
If you do your research, you may just know where to find the security checkpoint that most people don’t know about, thus getting you through faster and saving you time so you don’t have to wait in a long line!
5. Make a Habit of Checking Monitors
This is one habit I do every single time I travel and one that I was taught to do at a young age by my parents.
Every time you pass by a monitor in the airport, make sure you check it.
In the world of travel, gate changes are not uncommon and there is nothing worse than finding out your gate had been moved across the airport and you missed your flight because you didn’t know.
Checking the monitors takes 5 seconds and could save you a huge headache. In my book, it’s better safe than sorry.
This small investment of five seconds during each encounter with a monitor can prevent last-minute gate change surprises, ensuring you stay informed and on track to reach your destination seamlessly.
6. Bring an Empty Water Bottle & Snacks
You probably know that you can’t bring water through security. However, you can bring an empty water bottle and fill it up once you get past security!
So make sure you avoid falling prey to overpriced airport snacks and beverages by adopting a proactive approach. Bring an empty water bottle through security, taking advantage of water fountains or bottle-filling stations near your gate.
This eco-friendly and cost-effective measure ensures you stay hydrated throughout your journey.
There are usually water fountains and oftentimes a filtered water bottle filling station by the gates depending on the airport.
They’re all over the Denver airport, where I usually fly out of, and are becoming more and more common in airports nationwide.
Say goodbye to wasting your money on overpriced airport water bottles.
Also, bring your own snacks! Like bottles of water, airport snacks are also always overpriced. It sucks knowing when you can get the same snacks at your local grocery store for half the price, and alternatively if you wait till your on the airplane you risk the chance of not getting a snack depending on the airline or it being pretty meh. So avoid all this with bringing your own snacks!
Another reason why you should bring your own snacks is if you want to eat healthier. Airport food can be pretty bad for you and full of sodium, and it can be difficult to find fresh healthy food.
7. Ask For Free Upgrades With Confidence
Enhance your travel experience by confidently approaching gate agents and politely inquiring about free upgrades. While the response may sometimes be a simple “no,” the occasional “yes” can lead to complimentary upgrades, offering you a more comfortable and enjoyable flight.
Honestly, what’s the worst they can say? No? Personally, I don’t like talking to people or asking for free stuff because it makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable.
However, since I’ve known about this hack, I’ve become a new woman.
Grab whoever you’re traveling with for moral support and walk up to the agent at the desk at your gate (which you know is your gate because you checked the monitor every time you walked by) and just ask if you could have a free upgrade!
Sometimes I can get my partner to ask for me too! Otherwise, it is just nice to have someone with you when you’re asking for free stuff, if you’re a little shy like me!
Most of the time they will probably say no and you just say “Okay, thanks!” and never see that person again.
BUT sometimes they say yes, and you get a free upgrade on your flight making it so worth it! The most recent time this happened my boyfriend and I got upgraded seats with extra legroom that usually cost extra on Frontier! Another time we were upgraded to first class on a domestic flight!
8. Download Your Airline’s App
Most people don’t know this, but your airline most likely has an app, especially if it’s a popular airline like Delta or United Airlines (unless you are flying on an airline no one has heard of).
Most of the apps have in-flight entertainment, flight tracking where you can see where you’re at in the air and how much longer the flight will take, and other neat stuff!
If you download the airline’s app ahead of time, typically you are able to watch TV and movies during the flight, even if you don’t pay for the internet!
This has been a lifesaver for long flights when I didn’t want to read a book or pay for the internet!
9. Keep Anything Valuable With You
Do not pack anything of value in your checked luggage. This one may seem obvious but it’s easy to forget when you have a hundred different things on your mind when you’re getting ready for a trip.
This includes any money, jewelry, flight reservations, hotel reservations, and other important travel documents. Make sure they all go safely in your carry-on luggage.
Doing so will also provide you peace of mind knowing you have all of your valuables safely with you.
You never know if your luggage might get lost! If you have any valuable jewelry, money, or anything that you are bringing on your trip, do not put it in your checked bag!
10. Dress Nicely For International Flights
If you are traveling internationally I recommend dressing nicely. This is because it increases your likelihood of getting upgraded to first class!
If you look like you belong in first class, honestly, your chances of being chosen by an airline agent to be upgraded when they have open spots are much higher than if you were wearing old sweats.
I know what you’re probably thinking, if I’m traveling internationally I am getting as comfy as possible for the long flight.
Honestly, I feel that. However, just because you are dressed nicely doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable.
Last time I went on a big trip to Europe, see: How I Traveled To Europe For Cheap, I wore a blue cotton maxi dress, and wedges from H&M, and brought a cozy sweater in my carry-on.
I looked classy but I was also super comfy. You don’t have to wear a dress suit or anything, just something nice and comfy if you want to increase your chances of getting upgraded to first class!
11. Make Your Luggage Stand Out
After your flight and while you’re waiting for your luggage to come by on the carousel you have probably noticed several bags that could have been yours but you weren’t sure and had to check.
Especially if you have a black suitcase from a popular brand.
I used to do this probably every time I traveled until I started making my luggage stand out!
Eliminate the stress of lost luggage by incorporating a simple yet effective hack – making your bag easily identifiable.
Attach a colorful ribbon or use bright-colored duct tape on the handle to set your luggage apart from the sea of look-alike bags.
This small but impactful measure ensures you can quickly spot your bag on the carousel, minimizing the risk of someone else mistakenly grabbing it.
12. Use Zip Ties
Speaking about luggage, zip-tie your zippers on your checked bags!
If TSA needs to get into your bag they will cut your lock, however, if you zip-tie it, they can easily cut it and you didn’t lose a nice lock and a couple of bucks!
It’s also wonderful for ensuring your bag stays zipped shut when it is moved around as it’s transported to the plane, onto the plane, off the plane, and to the baggage pick-up. I’ve seen airport workers just chuck luggage and even open bags going around on the carousel a couple of times.
This precaution not only ensures the security of your belongings during transit but also prevents your bag from accidentally opening during handling.
13. Bring Your Phone Charger With You
Often times you will have an opportunity to charge your phone before getting on the plane ensuring you don’t kill the battery mid-flight, so keep your phone charger, like this one, in your carry-on ready to grab for when you see an open outlet!
Also, quick note, exercise caution when using public outlets, opting for a charging block rather than plugging the USB directly into the outlet to mitigate potential security risks. Do not plug the USB part of your charger into any outlet at the airport, it’s an easy way to get your phone hacked and information stolen.
It’s becoming a more common way for hackers to upload malware onto cell phones. If you use your charger with a charging block though, you’ll be fine! If you want more information, check out this article by the New York Times.
Some airplanes also have outlets on the plane where you can charge your devices as well. If you don’t have an outlet though, you can also bring a portable battery pack, like this one!
– Keep Your Laptop in an Easily Accessible Spot
In the US, pretty much every security checkpoint requires that you take your laptop out of your bag to go through their scanner unless you have TSA PreCheck.
So, make sure you keep your laptop in a spot that’s easy to take in and out!
This will also come in handy when you get seated on your flight and want to use your computer. I get so annoyed when after I’ve gotten situated in my seat I have to dig through my carry-on for something I stuck on the bottom of my bag.
Make your life easier by keeping it in an easy spot to grab!
– Take a Photo of Where You Parked Your Car
Nothing is more frustrating than forgetting where you parked. You probably know what lot and have an idea of where it’s at, but after a trip, it can be pretty easy to forget exactly where your car is.
So, save yourself some stress and steps from having to walk around a parking lot looking for your car after you have been traveling all day.
Make sure you snap a picture of your car and exactly where it is before you head into the airport at the beginning of your trip!
– Use the MyTSA App
The MyTSA app helps you get through security quicker and helps answer any common questions you may have.
Such as letting you search for what items you can bring with you through TSA, check delays and weather reports at airports nationwide, check how busy the airport will be on a specific day and time based on historical data so you can avoid crowds if you hate a crowded airport, see which airports have TSA precheck so you can know ahead of time if you have it or give you information on how to get TSA precheck.
And you can request live information from the TSA if you have other specific questions.
You can also find out wait times for getting through security, however, it is based on crowdsourcing data from other passengers so it may not always be 100% accurate, so I wouldn’t rely on it for that.
– Sign Up For Global Entry
Global Entry provides a seamless re-entry process after international travel. Upon landing in the U.S., Global Entry members can skip the long immigration lines and head straight to a kiosk for quick processing.
The time saved is not just at the airport; it extends to the end of your journey, making the transition from plane to home smoother than ever.
Take your efficiency to the next level with Global Entry. This program not only expedites security screening at U.S. airports but also ensures a swift process during customs and immigration when returning from international travel. It’s a valuable investment for those who traverse borders frequently.
When you sign up for Global Entry you also will automatically get TSA PreCheck to use on domestic flights which makes life so much easier and stress-free when you go through airport security.
I hope you use these hacks next time you travel and save yourself some time and stress! Share this to help your friends next time they travel and Pin this on Pinterest to save for later!
P.S. if you have a long layover or miss your flight, check out my article on 13 things to do when you’re stuck at the airport!