Flying can be a stressful thing for some people. Airports are big, crowded with some cranky people and nobody likes waiting in long lines. Throw in delays and lost luggage, and your trip could be a nightmare.
But with some experience and a few tips, your trip doesn't have to be stressful at all. Use these tips to help get you through any airport like a pro.
1. Prepare your boarding pass ahead of time
The art of airport navigation begins with having your boarding pass ready to go before you even get to the airport. Print it out the night before or select the option to have a digital copy sent right to your phone. This will save you time, especially during peak hours when the lines are backed up.
Bonus: If you're not checking any bags this will be an even bigger convenience because you can skip stopping at the kiosk altogether and head straight to security.
2. Get up-to-date information
If you're traveling through airports and not using GateGuru, you're missing out. This free app, powered by TripAdvisor, provides all the flight and airport needs you could possibly require.
The app's JourneyCard is a detailed itinerary of your day of travel. It will send you push notifications about security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, layover adjustments, and airport specific information like access to rental car companies as well as information about restaurants, shops, weather and much more.
Need to rent a car when you get to your destination? GateGuru has a partnership with Avis that allows you to save up to 35% on a rental car through the app.
3. Security lines made easy
One of the biggest bottlenecks is the security checkpoint, where hundreds of people are taking off shoes, getting electronics out of bags, loading plastic trays ... you get the idea.
Not only is it frustrating, it could make you late for your flight if you're already running behind. That's why when it's your turn you want to zip through security with no hassles. Follow these tips for packing tips that can help you speed through security lines.
But even with those tips, you'll need to know the details about what exactly is allowed past security. For that, you'll want the free My TSA app, which provides 24/7 access to information that passengers frequently request, such as what items are allowed past checkpoint, what airports support TSA PreCheck, see any airport delays, and most importantly, get approximate wait times in the lines.
Here's a little bonus tip about TSA: always choose the left line. Most people are naturally right-handed, so they are more likely to choose the right line.
Want to skip the security lines altogether? You can't exactly do that, but if you sign up for TSA PreCheck for an $85 application fee (and five years of eligibility), you can head to the fast track security systems. That means no more waiting in those long, tedious lines with other annoyed travelers. There is another added bonus - you are allowed to leave your shoes on and keep your laptop in your bag. Save yourself time and stress by applying before your next trip!
4. Find airport lounges
Most airlines recommend that you arrive at the airport two to four hours before your flight. This means that once you've arrived at your gate, you'll probably have a lot of time on your hands. Relax in style in the airport lounge.
The LoungeBuddy app makes it possible for travelers to find and book access to airport lounges around the world. You can browse airport lounges and view photos, amenities and reviews from other LoungeBuddy travelers. Then, if you'd like to make a reservation, you can use your mobile wallet or a major credit card and get instant access.
Every airport lounge has a different set of access rules, amenities, costs and benefits. LoungeBuddy finds and compares lounges, and provides you with all of the information you need. You just create a trip, share any elite statuses, memberships, or premium credit cards you may have and the app does the rest.
5. Don't waste time at baggage claim
When your flight lands, you might think that the worst part is over, but it's not. Unless you only packed a carry on, you still have to navigate down to that crowded baggage claim area.
This is why we recommend the free Trakdot Luggage Tracker app available for Apple and Android. The app is paired with a device that goes in your luggage and uses GPS to track its location. Although Trakdot was primarily designed to help travelers locate lost luggage, it also comes in handy in this situation.
The Trakdot device uses micro-electronics and ground-based cellular telephone technologies to report the position of your luggage. It also has a built-in sensor that automatically puts the device into "airplane mode" when the plane takes off, and shifts it back into "normal" mode when the plane lands.
Using the associated app, travelers can monitor their luggage from the point of landing and know when it's on the move. This means, while everyone else waits anxiously at baggage claim, you can swing by Starbucks for a coffee. When your bags start moving, you'll know that it's finally time to go pick them up.