7 ways to be a seasoned pro at the airport

GUEST POST – Andrew Mizzi: No-one needs travel stress at the beginning (or end) of a quick getaway, and as an International Airline Pilot, I spend a fair amount of time in terminals.  Here are seven of my best travel tips for beating stress and handling the airport like a pro.

Comment at the bottom of the page if you’ve got any other insider tips.

  1. Arrive early. There’s nothing worse than missing your flight.  You are far better off killing time at the airport and catching your flight than sitting around home too long and cutting it fine.  However sitting around in an airport terminal kinda sucks.  Sooooo…..
  2. Exploit the Lounge  If it’s not airline provided, check out your credit card features to see if they include airport lounge access. Otherwise it can be great value to pay for access at a lounge such as Plaza Premium.  Why not use the lounges during a layover? It can often be negotiated to have access to a private room where you can catch a few zzz’s and still be cheaper than paying for a few hours in an airport hotel.

    WiFi passwords from airports and lounges around the world!

    WiFi passwords from airports and lounges around the world!

  3. Pack your carry on before your main luggage. Make sure your liquids meet the airport restrictions and that these and your laptop are easy to get to at security.

    A TSA 'checkpoint friendly' briefcase/laptop bag can save you time by not having to remove your laptop (though not guaranteed everywhere)

    A TSA ‘checkpoint friendly’ briefcase/laptop bag can save you time by not having to remove your laptop (though not guaranteed everywhere)

  4. While we are talking carry on, have a change of clothes, underwear and any necessary medication packed in your carry on luggage. No one likes lost luggage, but this can save you if that dreaded curse hits. Trust me… Jess arrived from a Hong Kong winter to Bali wearing jeans. She was so excited to escape the cold, but not so keen on sweating it out until she could get to the shops!  If it happens, be fully aware of the allowances airlines provide, along with everything you can claim through your travel insurance.  Know it inside out!
  5. Dress to impress. For one you may be blessed with an upgrade, but my main reason is the dreaded security line.
    We’ve all been behind that person who gets sent back for their belt, then their shoes, their watch, oh wait you still have your phone in your pocket. Don’t be that person! A little bit of planning can go a long way- avoid belts, chunky metal jewellery for the ladies and have a look at your shoes to see if they are likely to set off the alarms.
    My go-to travel wear is a polo shirt and Lululemon ABC Pants; super comfortable, stylish and could pass for Chinos, with hidden pockets and zips for easy but secure access to the passport, phone and wallet.
  6. Pick your line. Airports are changing the layout of security lines to a long snake format, rather than individual lines.  Ultimately the line ‘feels’ like it’s moving faster, which improves the airport experience. For individual lines, that long line of 10 business travellers may be more efficient than the shorter line full of families (nothing against those travelling with kids).

    Now it might not always be obvious, but scan the queue whether for security, immigration or customs and get to know who will be quick. That person with the carry on suitcase, bulging handbag and struggling with their shopping… probably going to take a while!
  7. Sleep or eat? Overnight flights are popular and we do this quite a bit from Hong Kong back to Australia. You always think there is plenty of time on a long flight, but if you plan to eat it’ll be two hours or more before you are ready to sleep. Then they’ll be turning the lights on for breakfast another 2 hours before landing. If my maths is right on a 9 hour flight that’s only five hours of sleep time. It can often be better to eat prior to the flight, rather than sacrifice sleep for a sub-par inflight meal. How to be fully rested when flying long haul? Fortunately the airlines have that solved for you too…
  • First/Business Class = rested,
  • Premium Economy = somewhat rested,
  • Economy = anything ranging from a bit of sleep to total zombie……
  • In all seriousness, earplugs and eyemask is a must!