I was sweating. I had run all the way through Heathrow airport, and was desperately trying to make it through the second security check point so that I could catch my flight. I had already missed one connection, and this was the last flight to Shannon, Ireland leaving that day. There was no way I was getting left behind, and that's why I looked like a crazy person running past all of the gates with onlookers parting like the Red Sea as I breezed through.
There are several things wrong with this scene. First, I was wearing high heels. Since I was going to meet my boyfriend, I thought I'd look extra cute arriving in a pair of boots. I had completely forgotten how much I'd have to walk around once I'd gotten to London, much less run. Second, I was carrying 1734298374 bags, with some of the contents being distributed between my arms, and my boarding pass in my mouth. All limbs on deck! I was a mess, and while I did make it onto my flight, I wish I'd prepared for an easier and less chaotic journey while navigating the airport.
Because I care about you, and because no one should have to plop into their assigned plane seat breathing heavily and drenched in sweat, I would like to share some hacks that will help you to get through the airport more easily and efficiently without much effort. If it makes you feel any better, I have forgotten to do all of these things at least once, so I understand your pain. Below you will find ten tricks for getting through the airport with swagger.
1. Wear slip-on shoes or shoes with a zipper. At most airports, you will be required to take off your shoes. For this reason, think of laces as your worst enemy. Shoes that slip on and off easily are your friend, they are the Beyoncé of travel shoes. Whatever you do, don't wear high heels. Let's be real, no one looks cute stumbling around the airport because your feet are in such pain from walking so much.
2. Put everything you are not using inside of your bags. While moving around, you're probably going to get warm. Place all of your jackets, scarves, and hats in your carry-on so that your arms are free. It's much more difficult to move quickly if you are holding all of your belongings, and it's also an easy way to lose or forget things.
3. Put your laptop in an easy to reach place. At most security check points, you will also have to take your laptop out of your bag to go through the scanner. Just in case you're wondering what happens if you don't, your bag will most likely be pulled and you'll have to go through a more detailed search that takes seemingly forever. Put your laptop in a sleeve or pocket that is easy to open and close so that you can slide it right back and be on your merry way.
4. Get a rolling carry-on bag or a backpack. Nothing is worse that trying to lug a duffel bag around the airport. Bags that roll are easy to maneuver, and they can be held closely so that they don't take up much space as you're boarding the plane. Duffel bags tend to unpleasantly smash into every single person as you make your way down the isle.
5. Check-in and choose your seat ahead of time. This will prevent having to fuss around at the counter when you arrive at the airport. In addition, if you only have a carry-on bag, you may be able to bypass the counter altogether. You can also identify any errors that may have occurred ahead of time, so you're not trying to correct a reservation at the last minute.
6. Get a portable charger. Plugs are not always easily available in the airport. Portable chargers allow you to keep your device batteries from going low without having to crouch in awkward places or fight with other passengers for the few outlets that exist in the airport. In the event that you do have to use a wall outlet, it's helpful to have converters and adapters for the country you're going to so that you can charge up while you wait for your flight or when you arrive.
7. Stop awkwardly standing around. Let's be honest, boarding a plane takes forever. I always find it amusing when people stand around or awkwardly pace, as it's going to take however long it takes to get 100 people on the plane. There's no speeding it up. In contrast, I usually try to board the plane last, after everyone has already settled in, shifted their bags around, and the isles are clear. Sometimes this angers the passenger service agents (and it used to anger me, as well, when I was a passenger service agent), but it definitely makes things less stressful for me. Just sit, and relax. But not too much, I don't want you to miss your flight when you're only sitting ten feet away from the gate.
8. Get a passport cover with pockets. This will allow you to keep your boarding passes, baggage tickets, and if you'd like, your cash and credit cards all in one place. When rushing around, the only thing I carry in my hand is my passport cover. Everything is there, and if anyone ever asks for my ticket or ID, I never have to look far. I always feel terrible when I see people shifting around trying to find documents in a panic. Bag? Passport? Alright, let's go!
9. Use your smartphone apps. With technology, you can check in, get a digital boarding pass, check the status and location of your flight, and much more. Download your airline's app, or check out some of the top travel apps to see how much easier you can make it for yourself by having all of your documents and information at your fingertips.
10. Use TSA Pre-check. With this program, you can go through security without removing your belt, shoes, outwear, or your laptop. Your airline will let you know if you're approved for this program when you check-in, or you can ask the security guard at the checkpoint. It's much quicker than a regular clearance, and will save you so much time.
While these tips cannot relieve you from all potential problems that might happen while traveling, it will make things go more smoothly and quickly as you make your way from place to place. Prepare ahead of time, and eventually these things will become habit. Before you know it, you'll be traveling like a pro.
What are your tips for breezing through the airport? Leave comments below to share with other readers!