Words by Carlie Tucker
Dealing with the hustle and bustle of the airport has become an unavoidable part of travel. And for those that travel frequently, it's an all too familiar exercise in extreme patience as you make your way to and from your destination. There are ways of cutting down the stress though. From skipping long lines to cutting down the boredom of waiting at the gate, here are nine airport hacks to make your frequent travel easier:
1. Check in online
Check in lines always seem to be longer than expected, which can be stressful in the best of times. Nevermind if you're running 15 minutes late. Skip the hassle by checking yourself in online. For domestic flights, most carriers open check-in online at least 24-hours prior to departure time. Even better, the sooner you check in, the better your chances of securing a good seat.
2. There's an app for that
If you're loyal to a particular airline, it's a good idea to check to see if they offer an app. Major airlines (such as Qantas) put out official apps that not only let you check-in online, but also feature flight updates such as delays and baggage carousel numbers that can help you streamline your time at the airport.
If you're a frequent international business traveller, it's well worth looking into SmartGate. Available to all Aussie citizens and residents, 16 years or older with an electronic chip in their passport, it's an efficient way to self-process through passport control. If you meet the eligibility requirement, simply walk up to one of the SmartGate kiosks at passport control, insert your passport into the kiosk and follow the on-screen prompts to get your ticket, which will be presented at the SmartGate kiosk gate.
4. Invest in a luggage tracker
If your travels require you to check your luggage, speed up your baggage collection process by picking up a smart luggage tag. Now widely available from multiple shops and online sources, these tags attach to your bag and work with a corresponding app. Rigged with BlueTooth technology, you'll be able to see exactly where your bag is.
Looking for more handy airport travel tips?
The quality of food and beverages are getting better these days, but many airports still have a long way to go. Skip the last minute rush to get fast food before you board by bringing your own snacks. After all, eating healthier when you fly can help cut down on the effects of jet lag and ensure you're more comfortable while you fly. If you're travelling internationally, just be mindful of liquid, cream and gel restrictions when going through security.
6. Lounge access
One of the best ways to escape the hustle of the airport is to escape to the lounge. It's definitely one of the best perks of frequent flyer status, but those that aren't sitting on the top tiers don't have to miss out. Pay-per-visit lounges are becoming more and more popular, allowing any traveller to while the pre-flight hours away in a lounge.
7. Stay left
Next to the check-in line, the security line is a big stressor for plenty of travellers. At least there's some comfort in knowing that all travellers are subject to it. There are a few tips to ensure you breeze through (wear slip-on shoes, have necessary documents ready and your laptop accessible, and don't wear excessive jewellery), including always keeping left. When faced with the choice, most people will veer to the right, which means lines on the left are usually shorter. Of course, it's never guaranteed, but worth checking out next time you travel.
8. Book the red eye
It's impossible to completely skip the crowds when you travel, but there is a way to cut them down. If you have the option, booking a red eye flight will have you taking off and landing during off peak times. This should mean fewer fellow passengers, shorter lines and a quicker trip through the airport.
9. Be nice
If all else fails just remember to be nice. It's easy to get mired down in moments of stress, but resist all temptation. Keeping a positive attitude when you're flying will make you stand out to ground staff and cabin crew in a good way. They'll appreciate your patience and could reward you accordingly. Your positivity can even rub off on your fellow passengers, which makes the overall travel experience that much better.