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
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.
1. Bring your own headphones
Advantages: Save money on purchasing in-flight headphones
Requirements: Personal set of headphones
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
Advantages: Potential for a better seat
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
Advantages: Quicker security clearance
Requirements: Ability to distinguish left from right
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.
4. Don’t forget to bring a portable charger
Advantages: Ensures your devices stay powered
Requirements: Portable battery charger
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
Advantages: Protection against germs
Requirements: Wet wipes, hand sanitizer
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
Advantages: A more relaxed flight
Requirements: Morning flight preference
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.
7. Bring your own spare Ziploc bags
Advantages: Convenient for liquids and protecting belongings
Requirements: Ziploc bags
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
Advantages: Avoid waiting in check-in lines
Requirements: Online check-in
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
Advantages: Reduced likelihood of drawing attention
Requirements: A neutral wardrobe
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
Advantages: Refreshed state
Requirements: A quiet place/sleep pod
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
Advantages: Quick accessibility
Requirements: Laptop case, spacious bag
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
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
Advantages: More space in your suitcase
Requirements: Extra clothes
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.
14. Wrap your luggage or bag handle
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
Advantages: Avoid fines and the need to unpack in public
Requirements: Portable weight checker
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
Advantages: Stay informed with important announcements
Requirements: Nothing, just your ears
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
Advantages: Access wait times and important updates in advance
Requirements: Phone, MyTSA app
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
Advantages: Avoid stress and anxiety
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
Advantages: Ensure essential items are with you, even if checked luggage is lost
Requirements: Your carry-on bag
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.
20. Carry a power strip to save money at the airport
Advantages: Multiple power sources for all your devices
Requirements: Power strip
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
Advantages: Expedited entry process
Requirements: Meeting eligibility criteria and application
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
Advantages: Avoid using personal data and incurring charges
Requirements: A phone
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.
23. Pack your liquids and electronic devices at the top of your carry-on bag
Advantages: Expedited security screening, time-saving
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
Advantages: Potential savings of $73 per ticket
Requirements: A computer/phone
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
Advantages: Cost savings
Requirements: Your own snacks and a carry-on bag
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.
26. Stand in line near the business class check-in
Advantages: Time savings during boarding
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
Advantages: More legroom, reclining space, and no children allowed
Requirements: Exit row seat
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
Advantages: Protection against damage, maintaining suitcase appearance
Requirements: Shrink wrap or a luggage cover
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.
29. Sit on the front side of the plane
Advantages: Potential reduction in motion sickness or discomfort
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
Advantages: Increased availability, potential cost savings, and time efficiency
Requirements: Computer/phone for booking
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
Advantages: Time savings and reduced confusion
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.
32. Switch to glasses from contacts
Advantages: Prevention of mid-flight eye dryness
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
Advantages: Enhanced comfort without being inappropriate
Requirements: Socks and shoes
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
Advantages: Luxurious airport experience with amenities
Requirements: Lounge pass
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
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
Advantages: Avoiding TSA-related delays and annoyances
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.
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