15 Airport Hacks To Remember Before Your Next Flight

The problems of air travel can range from catastrophic to slightly infuriating but you can spare yourself the negative emotions. You can prevent as much of all that as possible by taking a few extra minutes to prepare yourself.

Prepare your entertainment

Charge all of you electronic devices and download all of the movies, shows, videos, music and games you know you'll be watching, listening to or playing. You can't count on the airport or airline's Wi-Fi, which is often not free and slow. Don't waste a minute being annoyed; it's not good for your health.

Bring an empty water bottle

Who wants to pay $5 for a small bottle of water? You can't bring your own through airport security but you can bring an empty water bottle. Fill it up at one of the many water fountains at the airport before you board. You will probably get a complimentary beverage on the plane but a small cup of water is simply not enough.

Freeze drinks to bring on plane

You know you can't bring liquids with you but this is not the case if they are frozen. "Frozen liquid items are allowed through the checkpoint as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen liquid items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 liquids requirements," according to TSA.

Consider alternative airports

Save money and avoid huge crowds and waiting lines. Low-cost carriers usually fly into smaller airports, which can offer tremendous savings on your travel. No crowds means little chance of delays, major problems or lost luggage – because the staff won't be so busy. If you're going to Chicago, fly into Midway instead of O'Hare; pick Maryland instead of Washington International, and Oakland instead of San Francisco.

Bring your own snacks

Airplane food is usually not very tasty and it's overpriced. The only free snacks you get are nuts and some crackers. Save your money and eat what you like. You can bring candy, cereal, canned foods, cheese, chocolate, cookies, crackers, hummus, fresh fruit, ice cream, and even pizza, according to TSA.

Wear your extra luggage

There is a weight limit to how heavy your checked luggage and carry-on bags can be. But sometimes you just need more clothes. The easy way to go around the strict rules is to literally wear your extra luggage. You want to bring a bulky jacket? Put it on you. Wear all the jackets and sweaters you can – at least the heaviest ones – and take them off as soon as you get on the plane.

Fly very early or very late

There are a handful of benefits to flying at night—typically lower rates, fewer delays, less crowded airports and the potential to sleep through the flight—but what many people don't realize is that there are also fewer delays during the morning. After analyzing 6 million flights, experts recommend avoiding flights between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. to dodge delays that get worse as the day goes on.

Avoid layovers

Delays are to be expected when you're traveling around Thanksgiving. If you have to connect to a different flight to reach your destination, make sure you have at least two hours of layover time. Flights are independent of each other. If the first one is late, the second will not wait for it.

Don’t forget your glasses or eye drops

You probably know by now – especially if you wear contact lenses – that your eyes get very dry while flying. The dry environment of a temperature- and pressure-controlled air plane cabin can take its toll on your eyes. Glasses provide a little more comfort. Still, dehydration makes dry eye symptoms worse, so make sure you drink lots of water before, during and after the flight.

Include your flight number on your car-rental reservation

Few things are worse than arranging for transportation from the airport and then it's not there. Airports are not nice places to be stuck at, and taxis are expensive. If you have rented a car, make sure you provide your flight number. That ways the car company will know when you're arrive and it will be easier to make sure your car is ready.

Carry a portable battery charger

Sure, there are charging stations at airports...technically. But they are always crowded and you'll be lucky to find an open outlet. And once you get a spot you are stuck nearby to make sure no one steals your phone. Don't risk it and bring your own battery charger. You can use it at any time while shopping or doing whatever else you want at the airport. 

Check in online

Make your time at the airport minimal. Head straight to the security check line. Make sure you print your boarding pass if you have to. Not all airlines give you the option to board the plane by scanning your ticket. Sign up for flight alerts to be notified if there are any changes to your flight.

Head to checkpoints on your left

You may have not noticed but most people go to the right after they enter the airport and start looking for a security checkpoint line. Studies show that Americans are more likely to turn right than left when entering a building – probably because most people are right-handed – so lines on the left will tend to be shorter.

Don’t call to book a flight

Time is money. So when you call the airline to book a flight, the travel agent will charge you a fee. It usually is between $15 and $35. Calling your credit card provider to book a flight – with your reward points or not – will also cost you extra. New air bookings made by phone are additional $39 per ticket, according to AmEx Travel.

Go outside the terminal for free luggage carts

As if airports didn't charge enough hidden fees...Most charge you for luggage carts. There is a way around it – and you can even make money. Go outside where the pickup area is. There are usually several luggage crats around. Use them, for free. Sometimes the booth where you return them dispenses money.