9 Time-Saving Airport Hacks

Mental Flossairport terminalWith its endless lines and hordes of travelers lugging gigantic suitcases, making your way through the airport can feel like running the world’s most tedious obstacle course. But air travel doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here are 9 time-saving airport hacks to make your next trip a breeze.

  1. CHECK IN ONLINE.

Checking in for your flight online is a no brainer: It lets you skip the check-in line at the airport and print your boarding passes in advance, and often give you an opportunity to choose or change your seat selection. In addition to checking in online before your flight, always double check your flight status before you head to the airport.

  1. WEAR THE BULKY STUFF.

To avoid checking a bag (and waiting in an interminable baggage check line), plan to wear your bulkiest clothing items at the airport. It’ll make space in your luggage and, if you’re an expert packer, quite possibly allow you to carry all of your bags onboard. Wearing your winter coat in the security line may be a sweaty experience, but it’ll help you save time and money in the long run.

  1. SIGN UP FOR TSA PRE-CHECK.

Signing up for TSA pre-check lets travelers speed through the security screening process. Qualified travelers get their own special line (which is almost always much shorter than the general security line), and don’t have to take off their shoes or remove liquids or laptops from their bags.

  1. CHOOSE AN OVERNIGHT FLIGHT.

A red eye flight might not give you the best night’s sleep, but it will get you through the airport faster. Airports are usually considerably less crowded at night, so booking a flight after 10 p.m. is likely to help you spend less time on line and get to your gate faster.

  1. RESEARCH THE AIRPORT’S LAYOUT IN ADVANCE.

Every airport is different. It’s a good idea to learn the labyrinthine layout of the airport you’re departing from in advance to identify the best route to your gate. You can shave valuable seconds off of your journey through the airport by picking the right security line and memorizing the route you plan to take ahead of time. Not only that, but many airports have out-of-the way security lines that few travelers know about. For instance, some airports let passengers check in through the airport hotel, while others simply have lesser-used security stations.

  1. WEIGH HEAVY BAGS AT HOME.

If you’re embarking on a lengthy journey and traveling with some seriously heavy luggage, you can save some time at the airport by weighing your bags in advance. Make sure none of your bags exceed your airline’s weight limits for checked luggage to ensure you’re not left scrambling to repack all of your bags when you arrive at the airport.

  1. PICK THE SECURITY LINE WITH THE FEWEST AGENTS …

While there’s no way to predict which security line will be the fastest with 100 percent accuracy, lines with fewer TSA agents at the X-ray screen are often quicker. That’s because multiple TSA agents watching your baggage go by frequently means one of them is being trained, making it more likely they’ll stop bags or scrutinize each one closely—and slowly—as it goes by.

  1. … OR THE LINE AT THE END OF THE TERMINAL.

Choosing the line at the farthest edges of the terminal might mean a longer walk to your gate, but they’re usually the least populated since they’re the most out of the way. If your airport has multiple lines to choose from, head to the most remote to find the shortest line.

  1. PACK IN LAYERS.

Pack carry-on bags in layers. Any item you’ll need to remove during check-in and security should be easily accessible. Keep your boarding pass and identification in a jacket pocket or outer pocket of your bag (and keep them together, since you’ll be using them at the same time), and make sure your laptop and bag of liquids are easy to remove from your carry on, too. Items you’ll need while you wait for your flight or when you’re on the plane should also be easy to reach, while items you won’t use until you land can be buried at the bottom of your bag.

You’ve saved time at the airport with these tips. Now save money on your vacation with these 7 Ways to Save Money While Traveling.

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