From the baggage drop to the security line to the boarding gate, just getting through the airport these days can throw pitfalls at you that you never saw coming. Even if you sail through the lines, there are other things you can do to make the wisest use of your time, and money, at the airport. Here are typical airport mistakes you may be making at the airport.
Not downloading your airline/airport app
Using your carrier’s app is important not just at the airport, but before you get there, too. Most carriers have apps you can download on your smartphone that will alert you if your flight is delayed or cancelled, even before you leave for the airport. Once there, the information on the app is often more up-to-date than the arrival-departure screens in the terminal. More and more airports have developed apps that help travellers navigate terminals with maps, lists of services, etc.
Not checking in online
Unless you have some kind of problem that can’t be resolved ahead of time, there’s no good reason for not checking in online. Just have the ticket sent to your phone (via text or email link), and if you don’t have any luggage to check, you can skip the counter and head straight to the security line. (If you have luggage you’ll need to drop it off, but if you’ve checked in beforehand, this goes quickly.) Also, some airlines only let you choose a seat when you check in; if you’re flying one of these, you’ll want to check in and choose your seat as soon as possible within the check-in time (usually 24 hours).
Not bringing food with You
It’s no secret that airport food, whether from a grab-and-go vendor or a sit-down restaurant, comes with a hefty price tag—and the only value-add is the convenience, usually not quality. And that’s not the only reason to pack a snack in your carry-on luggage: If you get held up on the line and get squeezed for time, chips or cookies, and fruit in your carry-on can save the day. Most food is allowed, except for liquids like salad dressings, soups, yoghurt, etc.
Not Playing Nice
It’s not a matter of if, only when: You’re going to need someone’s help. It could be a problem of your own making, or the airline’s, or a force majeure, but it almost never pays to be angry, indignant, or whiny. Patience and a smile go a long way when it comes to interacting with the gate attendants, flight attendants and even your fellow travellers.
Sending personal information over the airport Wi-Fi
Thankfully, more airports are acknowledging that free Wi-Fi isn’t just a convenience for travellers, it’s a necessity. And that’s a good thing! But never forget that “free” doesn’t mean “safe”: Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t secure, so whatever you do, don’t type in personal information—passwords, IDs, etc.—or you could return from your trip only to find your Facebook has been hacked and your bank account drained.
Forgetting to mark your luggage
You’ve been there, done that, and now you’re almost home. All that’s left is to grab your luggage from baggage claim. And one by one here they come, an endless stream of suitcases that look more or less the same. Save yourself the hassle of looking at each bag as is it goes by marking yours with a brightly coloured tag. Not only will it have your contact info should your luggage go missing, but if all goes as planned you’ll be able to spot yours in a quick second and be on your way.
By Damilola Faustino
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