There’s plenty that can, and often does, go wrong in those critical hours leading up to departure time. When things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to point the finger at the taxi driver who took a wrong turn, or the slowpoke holding up the security line, but it’s much harder to be critical of your own habits as a passenger.
Are your bad habits making travel more complicated than it ought to be? A few minor tweaks to your airport routine could help improve things for you and those around you.
Before you make your way to the airport, consider the following.
Don't Forget Important Documents and IDs
Leaving behind necessary identification and other crucial documents can end a trip before it begins. Believe it or not, for domestic flights, you can sometimes get away with not having your driver's license. If this happens to you, the TSA has other methods of confirming your identity, but you can be sure none of them are gonna be fast. Best to spare yourself the drama and triple-check that you have all your docs, IDs, and important info before leaving home. For international flights, you won’t get far without a valid passport or, if required, a visa.
Don’t ignore that email you receive from your airline prodding you to check-in online. Do it! If you’re not planning to check a bag, that frees you up to head straight to the gate. Or, if you are checking a bag, just print a bag tag, drop it off, and be on your way. By checking in early, you’ll have a better pick of available seats should you feel like changing or springing for a last-minute extra legroom seat.
Get Your Airline's App
I know, I know. Your phone is already crowded with apps, and you’re hesitant to add one more, particularly if it’s an airline you don’t even fly that often. Just delete it when you’ve completed your trip. The convenience is worth a little temporary clutter.
Download the app a few days before your trip. You’ll receive immediate alerts if your flight times are changed (which they often are), and, on the day of your flight, you’ll get instant notifications for delays, gate changes, and baggage carousel assignments.
Dress for the Occasion
Unless you enjoy the searing gaze of 40+ anxious travelers lined up behind you, today’s not the day for boots that lace to the knee, or for showing off your World Wrestling Federation belt. Leave all the unnecessarily fussy stuff at home and go for simple, comfy garments that can slip on and off quickly.
Related: What to Wear When Flying First Class
Save Money: Bring Snacks and Water from Home
Anyone who’s ever had the displeasure of paying $17 for a sweaty 3-day old sandwich knows that airport dining is a little bit of a racket. Do both your wallet and digestive system a fave and bring your own snacks. Fruit and dry snacks like granola, trail mix, and pretzels will travel better than, say, a BLT, but to each their own. Just be considerate of those around you by avoiding foods with strong odors that will stink up the cabin.
Refillable water bottles will also save you some cash and cut back on your plastic consumption. If you’re worried about a giant water bottle hogging up precious carry-on space, buy a collapsible one.
Splurge for TSA Pre-Check
It takes a little time and effort to enroll, not to mention $85, but the benefits are worth it. Sure, shortened wait times are great, but leaving your shoes on and laptops and liquids packed away makes for a much more humane experience. Try it!
Research Transport To/From the Airport
It may seem like a no-duh, but take a few minutes before your trip to plot out the best possible way to get to and from the airport. With so many major U.S. airports currently undergoing some sort of major construction project, congestion is a very real possibility. Check in advance for traffic conditions or rail work.
Planning on using a ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft? Pick up and drop off policies will vary by location, so do your homework before showing up. If planning an airport drop-off in a foreign city where Uber isn’t an option, research and download the local equivalent.