The Best International Airport Tips
Anyone that has travelled long distances will be familiar with many of the challenges that I will cover in this post. There are some really simple tricks that can be performed to greatly increase the chances of being awarded that business class upgrade or just make the travel experience that much more enjoyable.
I have compiled this list and I would really like to hear from you in the comments section should you have other tried and tested tricks for me to include in this post.
For The Individual
- Check-in Online
This seems to be pretty standard practice these days but there are still many people, generally older folks, who still insist on checking in at the airport in the traditional fashion. This is not a great idea as one can be guaranteed that whatever seating is left over will not be great at all and one runs that additional risk of not being allocated a seat as a result of overbooking.
In my experience, the check-in process without a guaranteed boarding-pass can increase the stress levels substantially and really place one on edge before the journey has even started. I have provided a link to post on how to reduce stress levels while at the airport for your perusal.
- Stay close to the Business Class Check-in Line
This might seem like a relatively logical step but only if you have thought about it in this context. When the business class check-in is manned and there is no business class passengers to check in, most of the time the desk will start to serve passengers that are standing in the economy class lines.
Pro Tip: Be smart and position yourself strategically for them to pick you out of the crowd.
- Know the rules
Non of us are completely oblivious to the rules of “NO SHARP OBJECTS” so don’t expect them to accept your nail clippers or scissors just because you “forgot”. It does not matter how idiotic you think the rules are or how silly it is that they take your knife from you at check-in and provide a knife to eat with on the plane, just work within the rules to reduce stress and possible conflict which I can guarantee will cause more problems that it will solve.
- Liquids & Electronics Preparation
Don’t be that guy that starts rummaging through his luggage at the security checkpoint to haul out all of his liquids or electronics. This is something that really annoys me, where the lines are long and people have ample time to prepare themselves to be scanned and there is always that one person that starts to strip-off or rummage through luggage for liquids at the last moment.
A little bit of planning beforehand or even while waiting in line will go a long way in speeding up the otherwise tedious process of going through the security scanning.
I still do not understand how this is a difficult concept for travellers to understand. Empty your pockets means exactly that, EVERYTHING, that includes loose change, you’re queuing for security screening, not the supermarket. Having to be re-screened is a hassle that can be avoided by just doing what you’re told to.
Luggage & Equipment
- Customize your luggage
There are very few bags that really stand out in terms of design or colour features and this can be both a problem for people mistakenly taking your bag or being able to identify your bag while it is on the carousel. There are some really easy ways that one can customize a bag such as adding coloured cable ties to it or unique security straps and all of these will assist in getting your bag back at the other end of the journey.
- Queue Left
There has been a lot of research invested into the study of humans, human behaviour and how predictable we are when it comes to both the individual and crowd behaviour. This has been done to best solve congestion issues and optimize the movement of large volumes of people from one area to another.
Queuing left has been show to move faster than queuing on the right. The reason provided by the researchers is that by far the majority of people are right-handed which means they will naturally gravitate to the right-hand lanes. This means that going left will have fewer people and you can pass through the checkpoint faster.
Pro Tip: Queue left for faster and shorter lines.
- Bring your bottle
I wrote a post that referenced a personal revelation that this was in fact possible. I was able to save me both money and allowed me access to water on long haul flights when everyone was asleep. There is no regulation against bringing an empty bottle with you, only the liquids are to be discharged before the security checkpoint but thereafter it’s all up to you.
The only exception to this rule I have found is in Singapore, where you are again checked for liquids before boarding the plane even if you were cleared by the first line security screening. This I found completely idiotic and unnecessary but arguing with them will get you nowhere to just work with the system to prevent any unnecessary drama.
I personally travel with a Nalgene Wide Mouth Bottle as this is of solid construction that is lightweight, Bisphenol A (BPA) Free and is really robust to stand up to the harsh travel environment. I have found in my experience that 1 L is just the right amount for travel as anything larger will be far too impractical. Should you be looking to read a review on the product then please look under the product review section of my website.
- Expect the Unexpected
Travel is an incredibly fluid environment with so many factors that can disrupt the process, makes it very difficult to completely control. While the airlines with the assistance of modern technology do their utmost to mitigate any negative effects or impact on your journey, it is not possible to account for all possibilities.
It is important to keep this in mind when things do go wrong and not take it as a personal attack on you. Often you will receive better treatment from staff should you stay calm and polite and you might eve get some compensation for your troubles(either financial or otherwise). Should you have had such an experience, here is a link to check if you are entitled to cash back from travel as far back as 3 years. Click here, it costs you nothing.
All Things Electronic
- Offline Survival
While most modern Airports provide WiFi for travellers, it is always a good idea to download all essential documents such as boarding passes and maps to your electronic device so you don’t need to rely on the cloud to access them. It’s all about preparedness and some practical steps can save on stress should the internet stop working.
- Use Headphones
Isolating the noise (not blasting music) from all the people and finding some peace during long layovers can assist in maintaining a relaxed attitude to travel. It is important to keep and eye on the gates and periodically listen out for changes to your boarding procedure as there is nothing worse than arriving at your boarding gate only to realize it has been changed and is on the other side of the terminal.
- Power Splitter
When you are travelling, we are all subjected to the same restrictions and confinements as every other traveller in transit. Being a considerate traveller can go a long way in making new acquaintances. There is generally a limited amount of wall sockets in the terminal building and having a power splitter will not only allow more that one person to use the socket but it will also save a lot of money having to purchase on airside from the travel shop.
A little planning will save both money and create a good platform to interact with follow travellers whom you might find are more interesting to talk to than first thought.
Boarding With Ease
- Why Rush the Gate
When the boarding procedure starts, do not be the first on to jump up or stand in line for an hour before boarding. Once your boarding-pass is issued, you will be allowed on the plane. There is very good reason to be the last to board which is under the next bullet point.
- Board Last for that Last-Minute Upgrade
As part of the standard boarding format, passengers from business class will always be onboard before the economy class passengers are seated. With this in mind, you are more likely to get a last minute upgrade to business class if you are last to board, if you are polite enough to ask and if the crew are feeling in a generous mood.
So give it a try and see how your luck improves in being awarded that elusive upgrade.
A Word to the Wise
I have been caught out twice in my life with this issue with the first being in Egypt and the second in Thailand where my luggage was lost and I had not packed a change of clothes. This is the most inconvenient situation as a new arrival as it leaves you pressured to make quick purchases without an idea of where to find well priced items or how many should be purchased to bridge over the time taken to recover your belongings.
It’s always a good idea to keep a change of underwear, socks and a shirt with in your hand luggage in preparation for such an eventuality and I can guarantee that this will be worth it’s weight in gold when it does happen.
If you enjoyed this post, leave me something in the comments section and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Until next time, plan ahead, think practically and be considerate by paying it forward.