Air travel is inherently exciting. You’re heading someplace new, and only an airport or two stand in your way. However, the process of getting from point A to point B isn’t always as worry-free as it seems. There might be flight delays, cramped seating, frustratingly long security lines, unexpected baggage fees, and a long list of other annoyances that can turn a relaxed day of flying into a lingering headache.
Thankfully, a number of expert travelers — from frequent business travelers to flight attendants and wandering globetrotters — have created a variety of tips to help you travel smarter. These are the top 10 travel tips from those who regularly take to the skies.
- 1. When in Doubt, Go Left
Air travel often involves standing in line — a lot. Keep in mind, studies have determined that right-handed people are more likely to go right when there are multiple lines available. Choose lines to the left for check-in, security and customs.
- 2. Pack Light, Wear More
Heavier clothing items require more space in your luggage. Save room (and weight) in your checked baggage by wearing your sweater, jacket or other heavy clothing items to the airport. You’ll also be thankful to have your warmer clothing immediately upon arrival if landing in cooler temperatures.
- 3. Pay for Global Entry
Global Entry is a program offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for low-risk travelers when traveling to the United States. The expedited clearance process means you’re through customs and on your way to your destination much more quickly than passengers without Global Entry.
- 4. Use the Airport Lounge
Frequent travelers typically receive access to airline lounges offered by the airlines with which they fly most often. Lounges often include open bars, higher-quality foods, free high-speed wireless Internet, and chairs that are much more comfortable than general airport seating. This is one of the airport travel tips you don’t want to forget.
- 5. Stay Hydrated (for Free)
Higher cabin pressure, low humidity levels, and a variety of other factors lead to an increased need for hydration when traveling by air. Symptoms of dehydration can include headache, dizziness, dry mouth and lightheadedness, among others. Fortunately, many airports are now offering water fountains with purified drinking water. Pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on luggage, and you can enjoy free, purified water while you wait for takeoff. This travel tip for packing is good for your health as well as your wallet.
- 6. Choose Your Plane Wisely
Air travelers looking for optimal comfort will want to research which aircraft are traveling to their destination. Long-haul flights, to places like Australia and Asia, can be difficult to endure on an outdated or uncomfortable commercial airplane. Choose flights on the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 Dreamliner for more in-flight entertainment options, superior seating and better passenger-generated humidity.
- 7. Find a Roomier Seat and Move Often
Business class is the most ideal option for long-haul flights, but you don’t need the big bucks to enjoy more comfort on every flight. Choose your seats during the booking process and use sites such as SeatGuru to find the roomiest place to sit.
- 8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Upgrades aren’t always available, but you’ll never know until you ask. Many travelers are eligible for upgrades to first or business class, but they are often unaware. Don’t miss an opportunity to use your free upgrade.
- 9. Keep Private Aircraft Updated
Business travelers flying in private aircraft will benefit greatly from maintaining a clean, comfortable, updated and modernized aircraft interior. An updated interior not only offers a better first impression to visitors, it creates an atmosphere that’s more conducive to doing business.
- 10. Make Your Luggage Identifiable
It may seem like one of the simplest travel tips and tricks, but many travelers forget to distinctly mark their luggage. So many pieces of luggage are available only in solid colors such as black, gray, navy blue or red. Use a piece of brightly colored ribbon or a recognizable luggage tag to distinguish your luggage from the rest and make your experience at baggage claim less time consuming.
It’s important to remember that, similar to all ways of getting from point A to point B, air travel doesn’t always go as planned. Yet a combination of the tips listed above and the tricks you learn from experience along the way will help you make the most of every flight experience, whether for business or pleasure.