Essential Airport Hacks You Need to Know Now

Raise your hand if your favourite thing about going away is the time you spend at the airport.  Nope? Nobody?   We didn’t think so either.  Airports are a bit of a necessary evil if you want to get from A to B, but they don’t have to be a complete nightmare. Follow these tips and tricks from some of the world’s leading travel bloggers and have a hassle-free time at the airport the next time you fly…

 

Get a Fast Track Pass

 

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My top travel hack to quickly breeze through a busy airport is to purchase a fast track pass. These are offered on most airport websites. If you buy your pass in advance you can get them for under a fiver and this is a few euro very well spent! You will pass all the security queues and will get through to the departures lounge in minutes. Most of the people with fast passes are frequent fliers so you don’t have any passengers holding up the queues with liquids and loose change. This is great if you’re in a rush, hate the idea of a long queue, you’re travelling with kids or you simply want to start your holiday in style (without breaking the bank!)

Tip by Monica from The Travel Hack

 

Always Downsize

 

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If there’s one thing travelling around the world the past decade has taught me, it’s that travellers don’t use most of what they pack. The next time you travel, commit to bringing only a carry-on bag. This will save you time (at check-in, as well as when you’re leaving the airport) and money (for checked luggage – so long as your carry-on is within the airline’s size and weight requirements). It’ll also help preserve your sanity, since you won’t have as many belongings to look after, neither during your journey nor when you arrive at your destination – a light bag will take a weight off your mind.

Tip by Robert from Leave Your Daily Hell

 

Pack a Refillable Water Bottle

 

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As a professional travel blogger for the past 5 years, I’ve spent my share of time in airports. You can’t avoid them if you want to explore the world. One simple trick I’ve used to improve the experience is to pack an empty water bottle. Once you pass through security, just fill it up at a water fountain and bring it on the plane. This allows you to avoid buying expensive and wasteful bottled water in the terminal. Staying hydrated while you’re in transit is super important for keeping healthy and happy on the journey, plus I believe it helps with jet lag too!

Tip by Matthew from Expert Vagabond

 

Do Your Research

 

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After a long journey, foreign airports can be overwhelming on arrival. Do you know the best way to reach the city or your accommodation from the airport? In many airports, unofficial taxi drivers roam around looking for fares, and taking a taxi with them might be overpriced – or worse – unsafe. Or if you have a long layover, do you know what amenities are available –  day rooms, or inexpensive passes to the airport lounge? Lastly, if you have little time between connecting flights (I never schedule layovers of less than 90 minutes), do you know what your options are in case you miss your connection?

Don’t wait until the last minute to figure all this out; do some research (most of which can be done through the airport website) in advance.

Tip by Nora from The Professional Hobo

Take the Left Queue

 

 

 

I find that most of my airport hacks, which are pretty much common sense, revolve around saving time.  I’ve learnt that it’s a good idea to pick the security checkpoint farthest to the left because right-handed people (who are usually the majority), tend to go to the right first. Not sure if it’s always the case, but it’s worth taking a minute to assess the situation. Most people just follow the crowd but if you take a step back, sometimes you see opportunities to join a much shorter queue.

Tip by James from The Savvy Backpacker

 

Download the App

 

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If you haven’t already got the app, get downloading now. Find the lowest fares for your dates, check in while you’re on the move and receive your mobile boarding pass delivered straight to your phone.

 

Roll, Don’t Fold

 

When we’re packing for a trip, we’re big fans of the ‘roll up’ method. Instead of folding our clothes, we roll them up into neat little rolls. That way, we avoid too many wrinkles, and even fragile fabrics like silk don’t suffer too much from being stuffed into a suitcase, no matter what size suitcase we take.

Tip by Anna from 12 hrs

 

Carry a Change of Clothing

 

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It’s always a good idea to pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage as you never know when your check-in bag might mysteriously disappear on arrival. It’s happened to me and it’s a life saver to have a fresh set clothes after a long flight. It’s also useful to have your own zip-loc plastic bag with all your toiletries organised instead of having to unpack and repack everything from your hand luggage at security.

Tip by Paul from TravMonkey

 

Wear an Extra Layer On-Board

 


 

If you’ve got an early flight, prepare for chilly conditions on the tarmac when you arrive and depart by taking an extra hoodie or scarf. These will also keep you warm when the air-conditioning kicks in during the flight. If you’re flying with toddlers or young children, take a light blanket to keep them cosy and help them sleep while they’re on board.

 

Fly at Off Peak Times

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A good tip if you’re travelling solo is to choose the most unpopular time to fly on that particular route (research this before you go, but in my experience, it’s usually late flights on a Tuesday) and then select your seat online as late as possible. This way you have a chance to book your seat on an empty row meaning you can sprawl out as much as you like and even lie flat across the three empty seats the entire flight if you wish!

Tip by Becky from Global Grasshopper

 

Use Airport ATMs for Local Currency

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Rather than heading to  a currency exchange/bureau de change, go to the nearest ATM when you land to get your hands on the national currency. Currency exchange bureaus will usually have their own add-on fees and exchange rates, which can sometimes cost more than a bank.

 

Take a Photo of Your Parking Space

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Avoid parking amnesia by taking a quick photo on your phone of where you’ve parked your car in the airport car park before you leave for that two-week trip away. Knowing you’re in section F on level 2 will save you time and hassle when you’re just off the plane, weighed down with luggage and want to get home as quickly as possible.

 

Charge Your Phone in Airplane Mode

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When your phone battery is running dangerously low and you know you’ve only got a few minutes to charge it at a power outlet, you can speed up its charging time by switching to Airplane Mode in the phone settings. This will disable all wireless radios inside (you won’t be able to receive calls or go online) but you won’t be slowing things down by having these processes running in the background. Your phone will charge a little bit faster and you’ll have more power than you would if you’d charged your phone using the usual settings.

Got a tried and tested tip of your own to add to this list? Leave a comment below and share your advice.

Fiona Hilliard

Fiona Hilliard

A love of new cultures is what drives Dublin travel writer Fiona Hilliard to explore the cities of Europe and beyond.

23 Comments

  • Sam

    If you have stay over night at the airport. Get Post its and write down that you like to be woken up at … O’clock . and stick em on you l. people tend to do wake you up 🙂

    18th September 2015 at 1:37 pm
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      Are you speaking from personal experience Sam? 🙂

      22nd September 2015 at 11:21 am
  • Marc

    Great tips. I love those tips and use it when I needed to. I always travel during the off season for several reasons now of which is to get a free row of seats to I can enjoy the flight. Also cheaper and affordable. Hotels, attractions and food are all affordable on off season.

    18th September 2015 at 5:32 pm
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      If you have the flexibility to do it, off-peak is a great time to travel!

      22nd September 2015 at 11:28 am
  • Kathryn Allen

    Really good tips thanks. I especially like the photo of the car park space since I’ve had a few hours misery trying to find the car when all you want to do is get home.

    18th September 2015 at 6:20 pm
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      Definitely one to keep in mind next time 🙂

      22nd September 2015 at 11:29 am
    • Dan

      I’m old school, I write the parking spot on the ticket & store it carefully.

      3rd October 2015 at 7:53 am
      • John

        I note the car parking spot details in the ‘Memo’ section of my mobile; so it’s readily availabless when needed.

        16th January 2017 at 12:11 pm
  • Marty

    Last on the airplane will only work if you have no carry on luggage. Everybody already tries to bring hand luggage only to save money and if you last on you could find your hand luggage being thrown into the hold due to lack of space

    19th September 2015 at 12:00 pm
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      I guess it depends on a few things for this one, the type of bag you carry on – a bag that’s small enough to stash under the seat in front of you would be perfect, also you’d need to check that the flight isn’t completely full before deciding 🙂

      22nd September 2015 at 11:26 am
  • alcaza irina

    ?

    20th September 2015 at 6:41 pm
  • Ray Haughey

    A friend of mine flew into Paris , picked up hire car , drove to Nice and took a pic of the parking space , with a number like 1002.
    Had lunch , saw the town , drove to a huge underground parking lot in Monaco and parked , by chance , in space no. 1002!!!!!!!! Should he do the lottery??

    3rd October 2015 at 7:23 am
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      I think his odds looks good 🙂

      8th October 2015 at 8:14 am
  • Bidtravel

    Good advise not to rush for queuing but to enter first on the plane always helps ensuring overhead space for the trolleys

    3rd October 2015 at 8:22 am
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      Good advice, especially if you have a small suitcase that can only be stored overhead.

      8th October 2015 at 8:15 am
  • COLIN TODD

    I have been offered free transfer of hand luggage to hold luggage at final check in , to relieve the cabin overhead storage . Make sure your cabin bags are securely locked, before taking advantage of this excellent offer!.

    6th October 2015 at 8:59 pm
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      Always a good idea!

      8th October 2015 at 8:16 am
  • Vaggelis Vasiliadis

    Great tips Fiona.As for the parking space u should also park your car as closer to the exit or neardby the crowded areas (where u pay the ticket or next to the road etc) and of course to a lightfull space so to avoid thieves thinking about braking a window to steal cause they ll be noticed.Many parking areas dont have cameras covering all areas where we park.
    Greetings from Greece!!!

    9th October 2015 at 2:50 pm
  • steve Bradshaw

    Last on plane, good tip ,I do it .there is always a space behind the last row of seats and you don’t have to drag your bag from your seat .( only works if in back half of plane)

    10th October 2015 at 8:12 am
  • Karen inTacoma

    We are semi frequent fliers and retired military. If you have gone through the full fingerprint & background check at your local military base for “Trusted Traveler” then your military ID number can be used for the fast track “PreTSA” check in lane by filling in the KTN “Known Traveler Number” online with your ticket purchase. Also beyond taking the photo of your parking space or writing it down, remove all of your car coupons or other important data like car information with your name and address on it that you have stashed in your car or glove box before leaving the house in case your car is broken into only for the thieves to learn where the passenger(s) live to rob the empty house. We put our registration/licensing/insurance papers in my carry tote to legally get us to and from the airport. Check your departing airport parking garage online for coupons, ours at SEA offer monthly specials of $19-$20 a day for up to a week pricing. Please be nice to fellow passengers, you will get better service by the crew. We always thank the crew members & pilot for the safe and nice trip upon our exit, regardless of air bumps or not. Happy Holidays and safe travel.

    16th October 2015 at 4:51 pm
  • David

    Nice tips.

    I’ve found that it often helps to dress nicely or better than usual as you can get better service at check in and less hassle at security.

    15th March 2016 at 2:44 pm
  • Stephen

    Use Google Map app and inform Taxi Drivers that you are using this app to get from Airport to hotel/hostel, I have several occasions India, Brazil, Vietnam and Cambodia not that I don’t trust taxi drivers it just reassures me that we are not travelling A to B via C, D and E lol

    14th February 2017 at 8:47 pm
  • Hazel

    It’s a good idea to take a photo of your passport (on the photo page) and email this to yourself. If you are unlucky enough to have your belongings stolen, you can access your emails from another device to show the authorities. It’s not guaranteed they will let you travel, but more likely. Of course, you would need to visit your Embassy to report the stolen passport and hopefully they would be able to sort it for you.
    I know someone who took a photo of their passport but didn’t email it to themselves, and then their phone with the photo on was also stolen!

    17th August 2017 at 11:18 pm

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