For some, flying is a weekly activity and for some, its a once a year or less. For those who fly infrequently, these hacks are for you. Not to say the experienced flyers won't learn something.
For domestic flights arrive at least two hours prior to your scheduled flight time. For international, arrive at least three hours prior to your scheduled flight time. This gives time for delays at TSA or issues checking your luggage. the last thing you want is to be running through the airport.
Look for offsite parking because it can be quite a savings. And some, like USA Park, will pick you up at your car and take you directly to your terminal.
Take a photo of where you park your car. A section of the garage and level. After a long vacation, you will have forgotten where you parked your car. As a side note, I do this when I cruise or park at a lot I am not familiar with even at a stadium. I learned that lesson when I walked around Tropicana Field for an hour trying to find my car.
One of the spots in the airport you can see a long delay is at TSA. There are some things to make your life less stressful.
Get behind anyone that looks like they are traveling for business. They have done this before and are usually quick. The last place you want to be is behind a family.
When you arrive at the airport you will want to check the departures board prior to heading to security just to make sure there are no changes. Next, make sure when you get to the gate, check the board at the gate at least thirty minutes prior to your boarding time. Your flight number, time and destination should be there. The boarding time should be on your boarding pass and is usually 30 minutes prior to your departure.
Use tags that will hide your information with a little sleeve. Also, only enter your name and phone number but never your address, you don't want people knowing your house is currently vacant.
Be sure to pack your medications in your carry on bag. Checked luggage can be delayed or lost or you could have a flight delay and be in need of your medication. TSA will allow you to bring medication in the weekly planning cases so you don’t have to pack all of those prescription bottles. But, take a picture of the bottle so you have it if needed.
Limits and Fees
Be sure to know the size limits for carry on luggage and your checked luggage. If your carry on will not fit in the overhead, you will need to check it. One way to avoid there just not being enough room is to carry a bag small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. They will sometimes offer to gate check your carry on if their is limited bin space. This is pretty simple, you carry the luggage to the end of the jet way, they place a tag on it and you pick it up in the same place after the flight. I have never been charged for this.
For most airlines, the checked bag weight limit is 50lbs, anything over that will cost you. The size limit can range by airline so be sure to check the website for up to date information.
Waiting for your flight
At the gate.
Personally, once I know the gate and the flight is on time, I like to find a gate where its empty and hang out there. But make sure you are paying attention to announcements and you can hear them. If you are listening to music or watching something only have one ear bud in at a time. This way if they make an announcement about boarding or any changes, you can hear them.
Keeping yourself entertained.
Often the airline will offer wifi when you fly but it can be expensive. If there are shows or movies you want to watch or a book you want to listen to, download them before you leave home. One thing I was reminded of on my last flight, bring wired headphones. Delta had the screen with shows and movies on the seat back in front of me but for sound you need the headphones and now they charge for them.
Eating and Drinking
Bring an empty water bottle with you in your carry on. You can fill it at different water stations or a water fountain and avoid the high cost of bottled water. I was in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and it was $3.99 for a small bottle of water.
Pack snacks for your trip. Items like energy bars or fruit will fill you up and keep you from spending $3 on a snack or worse $15 on a meal. There is a captive audience at the airport so you will pay a higher price for the convenience.
Using these tips the next time you fly will almost guarantee a better flying experience. I have discovered that first knowing what to expect and knowing how to handle the unexpected are the two things that reduce stress when traveling. Happy Flying.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.