The Best Airport Tips… before going to the airport
1. Find the best seat before booking
Even if you’ve started flying only recently, you might have guessed that all seats are not equal. Everyone knows that being in the middle seat sucks: you don’t get to admire the view as easily as the window seat and can’t get a trouble-free access to the restroom as the aisle seat does. And I don’t even mention the lack of space should your lucky neighbors also steal your armrests.
Websites like Seat Guru will show you reviews of seats on the very plane you’re planning to take, as well as where to find USB ports and power outlets – yes, some airplanes do have those, even though it seems like it’s never yours. If you’re a first-time flyer, my tip is to choose the seat that will help you overcome your fear of flying.
By the way, some airplane builders have heard you and are starting to improve the middle seat!
2. Book a Red-Eye flight (or fly early in the morning)
Fear the crowd? When you’re flexible on your schedule and don’t mind a late departure, consider a red-eye flight. It takes off at night (between 9 pm and 7 am) and is generally way less packed than the others. There might be even fewer people for a flight early in the morning: most people don’t want to wake up early enough to be at the airport around 5am, even though you don’t need to arrive too early at the airport.
But that’s not the only benefits of flying by night. Taking such a flight can turn out to be much cheaper as well. Plus, imagine the awesome night pictures that you’ll be able to post on your Instagram to prove how cool a traveller you are.
3. Check your flight status in real time
Most airlines let you check your flight status online – this way, you will know in advance if it is delayed or canceled – which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go check-innonetheless!
My expert tip? Download App in the Air before leaving. It lets you track your flight and will update you in the case that there is a change. You also get tips from the travelers’ community, from the best restaurants or places to charge your phone at the airport.
A very good alternative is Flio. With their comprehensive airport maps, you’ll find everything you need right away. By experience, it will save you the hassle of looking for the toilets with a full bladder during your layover. The app also gives you access to great deals for food shopping. And considering the prices at the airport, that’s not negligible…
Discover some more of the best travel apps!
Want the best tip to get free WiFi at the airport? Keep reading, I’m telling you everything further down!
4. Download offline maps before leaving
Remember the time when you had to take 63 screenshots of the map to make sure you’ll know how to go to your destination once you land? That was yesterday. Maybe even the day before that.
Google Maps now lets you download and access registered maps offline. If you don’t have free WiFi when you land, that could come in handy.
My top favorite app for this though is Maps.Me. Once you’ve downloaded the map of the desired location, it works completely offline and is extremely detailed. Also a useful feature the app boasts is to let you add pins to remember a place you’ve been or want to go to.
Just like this, but in your phone
5. Pack your own snack
It might not seem like it, but it’s a great airport hack to save money. I mean, for 12€ the chicken sandwich, I’d expect the rest of the chicken with roasted potatoes! If you’re a frequent flyer you’re familiar with the overpriced airport salespoints.
Bring your own sandwich, nuts and cereal bars, candy and other fruits, if you’re on a budget. Our favorite food and travel bloggers have a few tips of their own to give you inspiring ideas for a snack at the airport.
It doesn’t look so complicated, even I could do it at home!
6. Invest in a power bank before leaving
This is by far one of my most precious items when I travel. When you see a large group of people at the airport, they are either queuing for the security check or have found a charging station. In any case, you don’t really want to go there.
Instead, buy a portable charger. They’re available to every budget, just make sure that it’s powerful enough to charge your phone completely at least once. You’ll find the device to be useful not only at the airport but also during your flight (if you forgot to charge your phone before leaving) or even during your trip: it’s not always easy to find a place to charge your electronics.
7. Take a few Ziploc bags with you
It’s one of my favorite travel hacks, also among my top picks of items to take with you for every flight. You can put your sandwich there, or your other snacks.
I used them to store my electronic devices and make sure that even if there’s a leak somewhere, my phone and laptop will be safe.
The best use of Ziploc I’ve seen so far? Put your clothes inside: it saves an incredible amount of space and guarantees they’ll reach the destination dry.
For some more genius travel hacks, check out what BuzzFeed compiled from Instagram.
8. Check-in online
I already detailed all the reasons why you should check-in online, but the one that you need to remember is: it’s an easy airport tip that will save you an incredible amount of time, especially if you’re only traveling with a carry-on.
Otherwise, you’ll still have to go to the counter and queue up. While some airports have a “luggage only” line which is faster than the regular check-in counter, it’s unfortunately not always the case. You should still check-in online though: it gives the airline a signal that you are more likely to show-up for your flight. This way, they probably won’t overbook the flight and deny you boarding.
Airport tips and tricks… before checking in / dropping your luggage
9. Take pictures of your parking spot
Section W, level 3, parking C1… If you want to spare yourself the struggle with the parking lot’s architecture when searching for your car on the way back, just take a couple of pictures after parking and you won’t need to remember the details. Again, it’s a simple airport tip that might save you time on the way back.
But if you ARE coming by car, I strongly suggest that you look for cheaper parking before leaving. In the US, I recommend Discount Park & Ride, and Looking4parking for Europe. You can save so.much.money. by using these services.
10. Check for free WiFi
Most airports grant you a free WiFi access. Some of them will let you connect for free only for a limited time though. And some will ask for a password which you obviously don’t know.
Now imagine a world where you’d have access to all WiFi passwords of airports around the world… Well, the map below grants you that wish. Just select the airport and you’ll find the associated password. You’re welcome!
11. Wrap a colorful ribbon or put a sticker on your luggage
The awkward moment when two other passengers from the same flight have the same luggage…
If you don’t fancy opening your luggage in front of everyone to prove that this is indeed your luggage, make yours stand out from the rest. Wrap something on the handle, add a ClaimCompass sticker, purposefully break a zipper (don’t): anything to identify it right away on the conveyor.
I would claim it mine even if it’s not and run away. So. Cool.
12. Wear your extra items… or ask for a shopping bag
Be sure to verify your luggage allowance before leaving. But if you forgot and it turns out that you’re a little bit over the limit, wait a second before paying the ridiculously high extra fees (as though paying more would make the plane lighter anyway…).
Instead, put on a few more clothes from your luggage or put the heavy objects in your pockets as much as possible. That’s what I call a last-resort airport tip. Again, in the end, everything will get on the plane and it makes no difference whatsoever to the final weight of the plane, but let’s try to comply with the rule.
Another sneaky trick is to ask for a plastic bag in one of the many shops at the airport. Put you extra stuff inside and the agents at the gate will simply assume that it’s a purchase that you just made. Is it cheating? Let’s rather call it a payback deception.