Air Travel can sometimes be a little stressful and quite uncomfortable, but planning ahead can easily set you up for a more relaxing and enjoyable journey. These 4 simple air travel hacks will help make your cramped little space just a little bit more bearable for the duration of your flight.
I don’t like flying. I believe it’s undignified, unhygienic and uncomfortable. But it must be done.
Here are my top tips on getting through a long (or even short) flight in the most comfortable way possible.
Air Travel Hacks
1. Check in Online
Most airlines offer an online check-in option, and if you have access to a printer, you can even print your boarding pass. This is a great time-saver before you leave, however it can be difficult to find a printer when you are on your way home from your holiday or business travel destination.
Some airlines have introduced mobile boarding passes which have a barcode that can be scanned straight off your phone. So if you have no luggage to drop off, you can usually proceed straight to your boarding gate.
2. Arrive Early
It is recommended that you arrive 90 minutes before departure for domestic flights and 3 hours before departure for international flights…however, the more time you have the better, and the more relaxed you may feel. From experience I can tell you that things can go wrong at the airport, so giving yourself some flexibility will allow you extra time if needed to sort out any unexpected dramas. It’s also a good idea to add 30-40 minutes to your expected travel time to the airport to allow for any unforeseen traffic or road delays.
Do some research before you leave for the airport. Most airports have online maps or even mobile apps for orientation purposes. Check your ticket for the departure terminal and then use the airport map so that you can easily locate your terminal and drop-off zone or most convenient parking area. At some airports you can even book and pay for your parking online.
Once you arrive at the airport, check the monitors for your flight…you should be able to see the airline’s check-in counter and sometimes the departure gate will be already listed. These screens can also give you information about your flight, such as whether it has been delayed, or if the gate has changed. Immediately proceed to the check-in/baggage drop counter listed on the screen for your airline. *Tip: Some airports have self-service check-in terminals. These may only cater to certain airlines and/routes.
Once you have handed in your checked baggage and have your boarding pass ready and know your gate, continue to the security check points. Most of the time you will find yourself in a long queue. At this point you should make sure that you are ready to proceed through the check point with ease.
3. Ease Through Security at Airports
Always check the carry on allowance for your flight. Most large international carriers allow for one carry-on bag (check the specifications on your ticket and/or airline’s website) and one accessory. An accessory is a handbag, laptop bag, camera bag, etc. Keep in mind that the weight restrictions on your carry-on luggage refer to the total of that of your bag plus your accessory. *Tip: see What to pack in your carry-on (coming soon)
Remove your electronics such as mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers from your bags and be ready to remove your shoes, jacket/coat, scarf and belt.
Be as friendly and compliant as possible. Remember that the security measures are in place for your protection.
4. Your Carry On Bag and Accessories
I personally like to use a backpack as my carry-on luggage. It frees my hands up and I find it more comfortable, however there are some risks to wearing a backpack, such as theft, so I suggest that you keep your passport, cash and valuables in a secure pocket. You can also take a small suitcase, especially one with wheels. *Tip: I highly recommend finding one with 4 wheels that rotates 360°.
Have your passport, boarding pass and any other travel documents within easy reach. Some countries’ border officers can ask you to provide proof of accommodation, or funds, or even a return ticket.
I hope that you found these air travel hacks helpful. Air travel can be a great experience if you are a bit prepared. If you still find the thought of air travel to be a bit daunting, try rail travel, which is especially popular in Europe.