For some people, air travel is a nerve-wracking event and airports are a trigger for frustration and anxiety. So, wherever possible, it’s smart to eliminate as many of the irritations as you can, including unnecessary spending. This can be accomplished with a few tips and tricks, and a little planning ahead to make the trip as non-eventful as possible. So, here are our pro tips and helpful hints for a better air travel experience:
- Book on Tuesdays or Wednesdays for Savings
A study conducted by CheapAir has revealed Tuesdays and Wednesdays as the best days to purchase flights, with an average savings of $73 per ticket. Meanwhile, the study claims the cheapest departure days are Thursdays and Fridays.
- Book Smooth and Peaceful Flight Times
For nervous flyers, try to choose an early morning flight since studies indicate turbulence occurring more frequently in the afternoons. For travelers seeking peace and quiet, choose the red-eye. Most people would prefer to fly during the day (especially if flying with children) so red-eye flights typically are not crowded, and travelers onboard often opt for sleep or quiet reading. This type of flight should help to ensure a peaceful trip.
Always check your flight ahead of time to see if it will be on time. This way, you won’t have to rush to the airport or sit there waiting for hours if you discover your flight will be delayed. Also, take advantage of online check-in 24 hours prior to your flight so you can avoid standing in line. Choose your seat(s) at the same time, if possible. *Please note that this procedure might not be available at present due to your departure location and what their current Covid-19 protocols are.
- Request an Upgrade
There’s no harm in speaking up during check-in to announce that you’re celebrating a special occasion (honeymoon, anniversary, etc.) and asking if a free upgrade might be available. Sometimes it pays off. The worst they can do is to say is no, but you’ll never know unless you ask.
- Apply For TSA Precheck, Global Entry, or Nexus
If you’re the type of traveler that gets frustrated waiting in line, you can apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry if you meet government requirements and are willing to pay a fee. For Canadian travelers, click HERE for information about NEXUS. For US travelers, click HERE for more info.
- Sign Up For a VIP Lounge
For a more comfortable airport experience, sign up for a VIP Lounge. In some cases, they can be paid for with frequent flyer miles. Lounges offer superior seating compared to seats at the gate, plus there is free food and drinks, TV, and charging stations, all of which can successfully contribute to a more relaxed environment.
- Go LEFT at the Security Check
Statistically, most people veer to the right when entering the line-ups for security checks. Perhaps this is because most people are right-handed. However, moving as far to the left as possible is a proven way of getting through the process a bit faster.
- Foolproof your Luggage
Your luggage might look unique to you as you’re packing it; however, with hundreds of bags lumped together on the baggage claim conveyor belt, yours might look very similar to several other bags. Many travelers choose black, grey, and navy-blue luggage because it hides dirt and scratches better than lighter colors. Unfortunately, these dark colors also hide their identity because they tend to look alike. Think about making your baggage collection faster and easier with a bright scarf or ribbon tied securely around the handle, or use a novelty luggage protector — essentially, a sleeve that fits snugly over the bag. They come in a variety of colors, patterns, and themes that assist with identification.
Go the extra step before you check your bag by taking a picture of it on your camera phone. Make sure any tags are visible in the shot. That way, if anyone picks up the bag by mistake, you can easily prove it’s yours without having to open it up. Or, if it goes missing, you have something to physically show the airline.
- Bring Headphones and a Portable Charger
Why pay the airline for headphones when you could simply bring your own? Not only will this help you to save some money, but likely your own headphones will be far more comfortable and superior in sound and/or noise reduction.
In the same tech vein, bring a portable battery charger. Although airports have charging stations, and you can sometimes find a random plug located in a hallway, chances are that the stations are full and there’s nowhere to sit near the random plug. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Pack extra Hand Sanitizer, Wet Wipes, and even a Spare Mask
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic erupted, airports and airplanes were ALWAYS a risky place for germs and illness simply due to the sheer number of people from different locations all occupying a small space and touching so many common surfaces. Certainly, the airport will have sanitizer or wipes at select locations, however, with your own conveniently tucked into your carry-on you will be able to access them anytime. You can wipe your seat or armrests, or simply make yourself feel fresher with a wet wipe. Having a spare mask on hand isn’t a bad idea either just in case you drop your original onto the floor while eating or drinking.
- Bring a Refillable Water Bottle and Freezer Bag or two
More handy items to have on hand include a refillable water bottle as well as some empty plastic freezer bags. Why pay extraordinarily high airport prices for bottled water? Rather than throwing away a perfectly good half-bottle prior to the security check (and losing the money you spent), you can simply dump your container and refill it again on the other side. And now you have your water bottle with you on vacation so can fill it with anything you wish.
As for freezer bags, they are invaluable and can be used for a variety of purposes, such as placing your liquid toiletries inside, so they don’t leak into your carry-on. The Ziploc top makes them easy to use and re-use, and the see-through plastic makes it easy for TSA to check the contents of the bag without having to open it, thereby saving you time in line. Freezer (or sandwich) bags are perfect for small items that easily get lost among other things (Q-tips, Band-Aids, hair accessories), and they’re great for keeping small souvenirs together, such as keychains, foreign coins, or shells collected from the beach, etc. And, while you’re away, they’re handy for waterproofing your phone when going to the pool or beach. They’re super light, small, foldable, and can tuck into the corner of your carry-on without taking up room.
- Save Hotel Toiletries and Laundry Bag
Even if you don’t use a hotel or resort’s complimentary toiletries while you’re there, be sure to take them home with you when you leave. Create a little stockpile of complimentary amenities, which can often include items like shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, small hand soap, emergency sewing kits, mini toothpaste and disposable toothbrushes, plastic hair comb, and soft polishing cloths for shoes or eyeglasses. Having a selection of these items on hand will make it easier to pack for your next trip or adventure — not only will it save time and money associated with purchasing these travel-sized items, but there’s also peace of mind knowing the sizes are accepted by airports.
Also, most hotels that offer laundry or dry-cleaning services will equip the room with a small plastic laundry bag so the guest can gather their items together for the service. The bag often has a convenient plastic drawstring for closure. Even if you don’t use the service, you can use the bag. They are ideal for packing shoes, or for separating wet or dirty clothes from clean/dry ones when you’re re-packing to come home.