Traveling makes for great adventure, but few enjoy the time they have to spend at the airport along the way. Airports can be stressful and expensive. Here are some hacks to save you time and money next time you're waiting to board.
Study a Map of the Airport Before You Book Your Flight
Even the most experienced flyers have ended up losing a lot of time trying to find their way to the correct terminal in an unfamiliar airport. Airports are enormous and confusing, and often airlines don’t keep this in mind when they are booking your connections. They may give you an hour to catch your next flight, and that might be more than enough at a small airport, but it won’t be nearly enough at a huge one like O’Hare. Before you book your flight, check a map of the airport you will be flying into. You'll know both how much time you need to make your connection and how to navigate the airport with ease, reducing stress in the process.
Check the Lost and Found Before Buying a New Charger
It’s not unusual to drop or misplace your phone charger somewhere at the airport. Your first course of action in this situation might be to buy a new phone charger (at a high markup) at one of the airport’s stores. Don’t hand over your cash just yet. First, check the airport’s lost and found. Even if you don’t find your own phone charger in there, the person in charge of the lost and found will usually take pity on you and let you have another one that hasn’t been claimed by its owner within the allotted time period.
Call Customer Service Instead of Waiting in Line
If your flight is having delay after delay, or if inclement weather has canceled your flight, you probably think you have no choice but to wait in the long line at customer service to get things straightened out and to get a new flight. Fortunately, that's not the only course of action. Calling the airline’s customer service on your phone could be much faster.
Bring the Right Kind of Luggage
If you want to make sure that your belongings make it back to you after your plane lands, consider buying luggage with an aluminum frame. This is the type of luggage most used by pilots, flight attendants and other crew members, and if anyone knows a trick or two, it’s them. If your luggage does get damaged by the airline, though, you have the right to make a claim and try to get reimbursed for your loss. Of course, you can skip that process with good, aluminum-framed luggage.
Check out the Airline’s Lounge
Most major airlines have a designated lounge at each airport where passengers who are enrolled in certain rewards programs can wait for their next flight in luxury. Visitors will be served drinks and snacks, all while they lounge around in seats that are much more comfortable than the ones at the gate. You can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi in the lounge, not to mention use the much cleaner, nicer bathrooms. Fortunately for the average traveler, though, you don’t have to have a special credit card or be enrolled in an airline program to take advantage of the lounge. Often, you can simply pay for a one-day pass, which will usually cost around $50.
Consider Signing up for Global Entry
This last tip is a case of "spending money to save time." The absolute biggest time-suck at any airport is going through the security lines. With Global Entry, though, you can skip the lines and get through much faster on your return to the U.S. All you have to do is sign up for an account, pay a $100 fee and schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center, where they will do a background check and make sure that you are not a security risk. Once you are approved, you can save time whenever you reenter the U.S. If you take more domestic flights than international ones, you may consider signing up for TSA PreCheck, which offers many of the same benefits.