travelers inline with luggage at airport check in
Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
February 11, 2024 ·  15 min read

36 Ways To Save Money At The Airport

Airports serve as bustling centers of activity, teeming with travelers striving to navigate from point A to point B with minimal disruptions. While the allure of discovering new destinations is undeniable, it’s no secret that air travel often encounters hiccups. However, there are strategies to save money at the airport and enhance the journey’s smoothness.

Here are some nifty ideas to save money at the airport

Advertising, Business, Travel, Shopping Concept - Cropped image of woman standing at the window in airport while carrying suitcase, shopping bags, passport and boarding pass. Copy space / Select focus
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Airlines such as Southwest might offer more assistance than anticipated, and adding a little extra to your packing list could transform a potentially dreadful flight into a pleasant one. Even if you believe you’ve mastered your airport routine, these valuable tips and tricks are worth considering.

Read: Woman saves $28,000 in travel expenses by watching other people’s cats in places she visits

1. Bring your own headphones

Hispanic young man smiling wearing headphones leaning on the wall
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Save money on purchasing in-flight headphones
Requirements: Personal set of headphones
Cost: $5+

Carrying your own headphones to the airport is highly recommended for several reasons. Not only does it spare you the expense of buying in-flight headphones for watching movies, but your own pair tends to be more comfortable and less prone to sudden dislodgment from your ears. While airlines like American Airlines provide headphones, they may not be of top quality. For an uninterrupted and truly relaxing entertainment experience, it’s advisable to stick with your own headphones rather than taking a chance on the airline’s set.

2. Don’t hesitate to ask for a free upgrade

Asian woman sitting in a seat in airplane and looking out the window going on a trip vacation travel concept
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Potential for a better seat
Requirements: Confidence
Cost: Free

Politeness often prevents people from asking for complimentary items, but in a competitive world, asserting your needs is worthwhile. Airlines like United have been known to offer passengers free upgrades, especially for special occasions. While it may not always work, taking the initiative to ask costs nothing, and you might have a memorable experience.

3. Opt for the left security checkpoint

Queue is the good thing that can reflected a regulation of people.
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Advantages: Quicker security clearance
Requirements: Ability to distinguish left from right
Cost: Free

To alleviate the stress of standing in long security lines, consider choosing the left checkpoint when entering the security area. Most people are right-handed and naturally gravitate toward the right checkpoint, so by going left, you may expedite your passage through security. This simple strategy won’t necessarily save you money but can save you valuable time.

Read: The Carpenter Who Saved $3million for 67 Years to Send 33 Strangers to College

4. Don’t forget to bring a portable charger

Two girls hands hold of the phone and charger. Powerbank and smartphone in girl's hands. Energy charger power bank smart phone. Still life modern digital concept.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Ensures your devices stay powered
Requirements: Portable battery charger
Cost: $10-$20

Given our reliance on technology, keeping devices charged is a top priority. Bring a portable charger with you instead of relying on scarce airport charging points. When your phone is running low on battery, you can easily charge it on the go. A bonus tip is to turn off your phone or switch it to airplane mode after takeoff to conserve battery life.

5. Bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer

Plastic container with alcohol wipes with hand sanitizer plastic container and box of tissues on white background. Best protection from all viruses.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Protection against germs
Requirements: Wet wipes, hand sanitizer
Cost: $3-$5

Planes are confined spaces with numerous passengers, increasing the risk of catching illnesses. To stay on the safe side, travel with wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Use them regularly to minimize exposure to germs. Additionally, wet wipes can provide a refreshing feeling after a long flight when a shower isn’t immediately accessible.

6. Book an early morning flight to avoid turbulence

Online booking and buying plane tickets using computer and credit card
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: A more relaxed flight
Requirements: Morning flight preference
Cost: Free

Turbulence can be an unpleasant aspect of flying. Consider booking an early morning flight to reduce the likelihood of experiencing turbulence. Turbulence is more common in the afternoon, so opting for a morning departure may result in a smoother ride and a more enjoyable journey.

Read: Flight Attendant Trusted Her Gut and Rescued a Teenage Girl from Human Trafficking

7. Bring your own spare Ziploc bags

Fort Myers, FL / USA - 4/2/20 : Fort Myers, FL / USA - 4/2/20 : Ziplock brand seal top bags Gallon and freezer quart sized Ziploc is a brand of reusable, re-sealable zipper storage bags and containers
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Advantages: Convenient for liquids and protecting belongings
Requirements: Ziploc bags
Cost: $4

Including spare Ziploc bags in your suitcase is wise for various reasons. Whether you buy liquids at the airport or need to protect your belongings at the beach, these bags can be invaluable. If you don’t have any at home, they are readily available at stores like Walmart for a minimal cost.

8. Check in 24 hours before your flight

Electronic Boarding Pass on the screen of your smartphone. Concept of modern travel.
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Advantages: Avoid waiting in check-in lines
Requirements: Online check-in
Cost: Free

Take advantage of online check-in, a standard feature offered by most modern airlines. You can check in online up to 24 hours before your flight, eliminating the need to stand in line at the airport. This convenient option not only saves time but also prevents the need for last-minute, expensive cab rides to the airport. Embrace this modern marvel of technology for a smoother travel experience.

9. Avoid wearing brightly colored coats and other clothing

woman holding in hands passport and ticket to fly away, traveler standing in front of information board in airport in Russian city of Yekaterinburg. Concept of traveling People from behind
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Reduced likelihood of drawing attention
Requirements: A neutral wardrobe
Cost: $5+

Navigating through airport security seamlessly is a common concern for travelers. If you wish to minimize the chances of being subjected to random checks, flight attendants suggest wearing neutral clothing and avoiding bright colors. While not a strict rule, opting for a neutral-toned wardrobe, such as a cream coat instead of a bright blue one, may decrease the likelihood of being singled out. Keep this in mind to streamline your airport experience.

10. Take a nap at the airport

Tired, sleeping and woman at airport, waiting and bench for travel, international transport and flight delay. Tourist nap on chair at airplane lounge before journey with baggage, luggage and suitcase
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Refreshed state
Requirements: A quiet place/sleep pod
Cost: Free

In the event of flight delays, maintaining a positive mood can be challenging. Instead of succumbing to frustration, consider taking a nap. While airport seating may not be the most comfortable, some airports offer sleeping pods for rent, such as those found in London’s Heathrow. For approximately $60, you can enjoy a four-hour private pod, complete with access to showers and towels, enhancing your overall airport experience.

Read: Travel Tip: Why You Should Put a Shoe in Your Hotel Safe, According to a Flight Attendant

11. Store your laptop in an easy-to-access place

Airport Young female passenger on smart phone and laptop sitting in terminal hall while waiting for her flight. Air travel concept with young casual woman sitting with hand luggage suitcase.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Quick accessibility
Requirements: Laptop case, spacious bag
Cost: $10*

To avoid the struggle of retrieving your laptop mid-flight, invest in a laptop case. With a dedicated case, accessing your laptop becomes a simple task—no more rummaging or struggling. Laptop cases are affordable, with options available for as little as $10 on platforms like Amazon. This small investment promises increased organization and efficiency during your travels.

12. Take a photo of your parking space so you won’t forget where you parked

2 hour parking overhead neon sign at indoor airport parking lot displays number of available parking spaces. Available empty spots display counter information
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Never lose your parking spot
Requirements: Camera phone
Cost: $100+ (Free if you already own one)*

Capture a photo of your parking space at the airport to ensure you don’t forget its location. While seemingly simple, this tip proves invaluable, especially when returning from a trip. Even if you believe you’ll remember, visual evidence through a photo on your camera phone provides a foolproof way to locate your parked car with ease.

13. Wear your extra luggage to save money at the airport

WROCLAW, POLAND - JUNE 17, 2022: people waiting for check-in at Wroclaw's airport. Woman with summer hat and luggage.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: More space in your suitcase
Requirements: Extra clothes
Cost: Free

Avoid paying extra for checking in an additional bag by wearing your bulkiest clothing items to the airport. While this may be slightly uncomfortable, you can remove the extra layers once you pass through security. This strategy is also effective for hand luggage, as you can wear a jacket during security checks and then stow it in your bag afterward.

Read: Passenger goes viral after trying to figure out who mystery celebrity was during her flight

14. Wrap your luggage or bag handle

Lifehack; Tie a small piece of bright-colored fabric to your luggage to save a lot of time to check if it's your bag or not
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Quick identification at baggage claim

Requirements: Bright scarf/tie
Cost: $5/Free if you already own one*

Save time at baggage claim by tying a brightly colored scarf, tie, or piece of material to your luggage handle. This simple trick makes your luggage easily distinguishable, especially if you have generic black luggage. Spotting your bag becomes a breeze, allowing you to swiftly head to your destination without the hassle of searching for your belongings.

15. Get a portable weight checker to avoid overweight baggage fees

Isolated photo of female woman hand holding counter scales tool with digital screen on white background.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Avoid fines and the need to unpack in public
Requirements: Portable weight checker
Cost: $11.99*

Discovering that your luggage exceeds the weight limit can be incredibly frustrating. You can often sense it as you enter the airport, wheeling or carrying your suitcase. If you fail to meet the weight requirements, you not only face additional charges but also the inconvenience of removing items in front of everyone. Save yourself from this hassle by investing in a portable weight checker. Check your bag at home to ensure it complies with the weight limit. This proves to be a particularly wise purchase for frequent flyers.

16. Don’t listen to your music

Young traveler is waiting at the airport
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Stay informed with important announcements
Requirements: Nothing, just your ears
Cost: Free

While immersing yourself in music at the airport is tempting, turning off your tunes has benefits. Important announcements, such as flight delays, voucher offers for taking the next flight, or transit warnings, may be missed if you listen to music. Stay attuned to your surroundings to ensure you don’t overlook crucial information.

17. Use the TSA app to find out wait times

District katni, madhya pradesh, India - May 6, 2020: My TSA android apps displayed on google play store at digital screen.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Access wait times and important updates in advance
Requirements: Phone, MyTSA app
Cost: Free

Instead of relying on hope when estimating security wait times, download the TSA app for a more prepared approach. MyTSA, rated the “Best Government Mobile App” by the American Council for Technology, provides information on wait times, traveler tips, and crucial news updates. For frequent travelers, this app is a valuable tool, and the best part is, it’s free!

18. No need to rush to board

Airport passengers queue with hand luggages waiting boarding at the terminal. Budapest, Hungary - 29 september 2018
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Avoid stress and anxiety
Requirements: Nothing
Cost: Free

Resist the urge to rush when boarding the plane. For most airlines, seats are assigned, and there’s no need to push and shove. Relax and go to the boarding area at your own pace; the plane won’t depart without you. Save the sprinting for instances when you’re genuinely running late for your flight.

19. Pack the most important belongings in your carry-on

Hand-luggage compartment with suitcases in airplane. Hands take off hand luggage. Passenger put cabin bag cabin on the top shelf. Travel concept with copy space
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Ensure essential items are with you, even if checked luggage is lost
Requirements: Your carry-on bag
Cost: Free

A timeless travel hack is to pack your most crucial items in your carry-on. This includes daily medications, chargers, important documents, underwear, toiletries, and valuables. In the unfortunate event of lost luggage, having these essentials in your carry-on ensures you can continue with your daily routine without disruption.

Read: Traveler Shares Simple Trick to Get Whole Row of Seats to Yourself on a Plane

20. Carry a power strip to save money at the airport

The electrical extension strip with connected white power plugs on the wooden table. Smartphones chargers in power strip for electrical sockets
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Multiple power sources for all your devices
Requirements: Power strip
Cost: $5*

Finding an available outlet in the airport can be challenging. Bring a power strip to charge your phone, AirPods, laptop, and tablet simultaneously. You can even share outlets with fellow travelers. A non-battery-operated power strip should pose no issues at security, and even if inspected, it will only result in a brief delay for inspection.

21. Sign up for TSA Precheck or Global Entry

Washington, DC DECEMBER 26, 2018: TSA precheck fast lane line before security at Reagan National Airport
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Expedited entry process
Requirements: Meeting eligibility criteria and application
Cost: $100*

Enduring long lines upon arrival in a country can be an unpleasant experience. However, there’s a solution that might cost a bit but is worth considering. If you meet the criteria and are willing to spend around $100, applying for TSA Precheck or Global Entry can be a game-changer. These programs allow you to bypass lengthy lines, providing a faster and more efficient entry process.

22. Always check for free WiFi to save money at the airport

Free WiFi Sign
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Avoid using personal data and incurring charges
Requirements: A phone
Cost: Free

When traveling to another country, securing a reliable and affordable WiFi connection is often a concern. To avoid using your own data or facing exorbitant charges, check if the airport offers free WiFi. Many airports, as well as restaurants within the facility, provide complimentary WiFi. Even if not explicitly advertised, it’s worthwhile to inquire, potentially saving you from stress, worry, and unintended data expenses.

Read: Radical new “Flying-V” plane aims to transform flight

23. Pack your liquids and electronic devices at the top of your carry-on bag

Traveling set with photo camera, transparent plastic bag for liquids, money, passport, watch, smartphone, power bank
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Expedited security screening, time-saving
Requirements: Nothing
Cost: Free

Given the myriad rules about carry-on items, streamline your security screening by placing liquids and electronic devices near the top of your carry-on bag. This ensures quick access when you need to remove them during security checks. By avoiding the need to dig through your bag, you not only save time but also prevent delays for others in the security line. Best of all, this organization tip comes at no extra cost.

24. Save money at the airport – Book your flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for better deals

Calendar with push pin and plane stickers.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Potential savings of $73 per ticket
Requirements: A computer/phone
Cost: Free

According to a study by CheapAir, the best days to book airline tickets are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On average, passengers save $73 per ticket when booking flights on these days. Thursdays and Fridays were identified as the cheapest days to travel, while Sundays were found to be the least favorable for both ticket booking and travel due to higher costs. Additionally, CheapAir suggested that January and February offered the best flight deals, while summer months often resulted in higher ticket prices.

25. Pack a lot of snacks to save money at the airport

4 year old preschooler girl eating snacks from lunch box while travelling by plane
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Cost savings
Requirements: Your own snacks and a carry-on bag
Cost: $5-$10*

Airport snacks have a hefty price tag due to higher business operating costs. To save money at the airport, bring your own snacks, treating it like a trip to the movie theater. Solid food items can be transported in your carry-on, though liquids like soda must wait until after security. This simple hack can save you from spending three times more on snacks and drinks at the airport.

Read: Why You Should Put a Shoe in Your Hotel Safe, According to a Flight Attendant

26. Stand in line near the business class check-in

MILAN MALPENSA, ITALY - CIRCA NOVEMBER, 2017: Qatar Airways check-in area at Milan-Malpensa airport, Terminal 1.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Time savings during boarding
Requirements: Nothing
Cost: Free

Standing in line near the business class check-in area can be a strategic move for those who prefer not to board last. While you won’t be eligible for business class boarding, positioning yourself in this area puts you in a favorable position when it’s time for your boarding group. According to Thrifty Traveler, considering an upgrade to business class for long-haul flights might be worthwhile for added comfort, spacious seating, and better dining options.

27. Take the seat near the Emergency Exit, and opt for the 2nd row instead of the 1st one

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, 18 June 2019: Emergency exit of a Malaysia Airlines flight. People sitting near emergency exit required to understand how to operate the door in case of emergency.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: More legroom, reclining space, and no children allowed
Requirements: Exit row seat
Cost: Free

For taller individuals or those looking to avoid sitting near infants on flights, selecting an exit row seat can be beneficial. Exit row seats offer extra legroom, particularly in the second row, providing ample space and the ability to recline. Additionally, these seats typically have a child-free policy, contributing to a quieter flight experience. Be prepared to assist in case of an emergency as flight attendants may request your verbal acknowledgment of exit-row responsibilities.

28. Shrink wrap your luggage to minimize scratches and dents

Multiple luggages wrapped with protective film for protection and security during transportation in air travel.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Protection against damage, maintaining suitcase appearance
Requirements: Shrink wrap or a luggage cover
Cost: $10-$20*

To prevent damage to your luggage, consider shrink-wrapping it, a permissible practice that won’t hinder security scanning. If shrink-wrapping seems cumbersome, invest in an actual luggage cover. Options like the Yotako clear PVC suitcase cover, available on Amazon for $16.99, can keep your suitcase looking pristine. Given the estimated 22 million mishandled pieces of luggage in 2017, this expense is worthwhile for safeguarding your luggage from potential wear and tear.

Read: Wife Found Two Airline Tickets in Husband’s Luggage, Finds Him on Vacation with an Elderly Woman — a Short Story

29. Sit on the front side of the plane

Red airplane seats at the front of a plane
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Potential reduction in motion sickness or discomfort
Requirements: Nothing
Cost: Free

Choosing a seat near the front of the plane may provide benefits, especially for those sensitive to flying or prone to motion sickness. SmarterTravel suggests that seats near the front, where the center of gravity and pressure act, could offer a more comfortable experience. Other favorable seat options include exit rows and window seats. For those looking to disembark quickly, selecting an aisle seat near the front may be a strategic choice, although it involves sacrificing the window-seat view.

30. Rent a car through the website rather than wait in line to save money at the airport

Car Rentals Rental Transportation Concept
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Increased availability, potential cost savings, and time efficiency
Requirements: Computer/phone for booking
Cost: $50+*

When needing to rent a car in a new destination, booking through the rental company’s website rather than waiting in line can offer several advantages. Online bookings often provide better availability, potential discounts for prepayment, and the ability to check for specific car specifications within your budget. This approach can save time, allowing you to bypass lines at the rental counter and ensure that the chosen vehicle meets your requirements.

31. Download or print your boarding pass and airport map

Happy couple, airport and phone with ticket, travel app and adventure with excited face, conversation and smile. Man, woman and smartphone for digital booking of hotel, taxi or bus for transportation
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Time savings and reduced confusion
Requirements: Printer
Cost: Free/minimal at the local library*

Downloading and printing your boarding pass and an airport map in advance can streamline your airport experience. Early check-in, especially with airlines like Southwest, may lead to better boarding positions. This lets you skip the kiosk line and head directly to baggage check. Having an airport map, particularly for large and confusing airports like LAX or ATL, can help you navigate efficiently.

Read: Pilot has best response to woman who ran to try and be first one off the plane at landing

32. Switch to glasses from contacts

Successful female book editor reading literature during time in airplane before business meeting with writer, confident formally dressed woman enjoying international flight and leisure for novel
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Prevention of mid-flight eye dryness
Requirements: Glasses
Cost: $50+/Free if you already own them*

Flying with contact lenses may lead to discomfort and dryness due to reduced atmospheric pressure, oxygen, and humidity at high altitudes. To avoid the constant application of contact-safe eye drops, switching to glasses during flights is recommended. While contact lens solutions must go in your suitcase, your glasses can stay in your carry-on.

33. Wear shoes with socks

MUNICH / GERMANY - 09FEB2020: Low culture during flight. Passengers taking their shoes off - common unpleasant behaviour.
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Enhanced comfort without being inappropriate
Requirements: Socks and shoes
Cost: $3*

For long-haul flights, consider wearing shoes with socks to allow for a more comfortable experience. While it’s not advisable to go barefoot on a plane, having socks on allows you to slip off your shoes during the flight. This practice is common during extended flights, and wearing socks ensures you won’t be the odd one out.

34. Airport lounges sell all-day passes to help you save money at the airport

Round desk with business literature, cup of hot drink and wallet at airport waiting room stock photo
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Luxurious airport experience with amenities
Requirements: Lounge pass
Cost: $20-$25*

Purchasing an airport lounge pass can provide a more comfortable and luxurious experience for travelers with extended layovers or waiting times. Airport lounges typically offer amenities such as TVs, comfortable seating, couches, fast Wi-Fi, and even showers. Passes can be booked through the airline or third-party services like LoungeBuddy.

35. Put a Bread Clip In Your Wallet

Credit: Shutterstock

No, we’re not going to tell you to bring a loaf of bread on your next trip (it could be a tasty snack, though). However, you should always keep a bread clip from a recently purchased loaf. We know that people are uncomfortable talking about death, but you should always be prepared. If worst comes to worst, tragedy strikes, the bread clip will give investigators an idea of your last known location and when you were there. This may not save you any money, and it isn’t a foolproof hack either, but it might be worth doing.

36. Start emptying your pockets when on the security line

Fort-Lauderdale - JANUARY 22, 2018: Unidentified people lined up for security and passport control at Fort-Lauderdale International Airport, Florida
Credit: Shutterstock

Advantages: Avoiding TSA-related delays and annoyances
Requirements: Nothing
Cost: Free

To expedite the security screening process, empty your pockets before entering the security line. TSA agents often emphasize the importance of having empty pockets to avoid triggering the scanner’s alert system. This simple step helps prevent delays and ensures a smoother experience through security.

Keep Reading: Woman saves $28,000 in travel expenses by watching other people’s cats in places she visits


  1. 50 Ways To Save Money At The Airport.” Investing ZA. Kate Prince. October 28, 2023
  2. 4 ways to save money at the airport, no matter how hectic it is.” Business Insider. Jennifer Streaks. July 20, 2023