Whether you’ve traveled by air or not, you’ve almost certainly heard about the trials and
tribulations of long layovers and flight delays. The aggravation is almost universal, especially
when it results in missing a connection, having to cancel a meeting, or — gulp — being stuck
overnight in an airport. With all this in mind, if you’re a first-time air traveler, it’s easy to focus on
everything that could go wrong. Don’t worry! All it takes is a little bit of insider knowledge to set
you up for success.
Here are a few tips from seasoned travelers to make your airport experience as painless as
possible. Who knows? With the right attitude and plenty of preparation, it might even be fun.
Check In (and Arrive) Early
Most airlines now allow you to check in online up to 24 hours in advance. You can print your
boarding pass, select or confirm your seat, and register and pay for any luggage you check. If
your airline has an app, you can also use the provided QR code on your smart phone as a digital
boarding pass. By taking this step, all you’ll need to do the day of travel is drop off your bags at
the kiosk and head out toward security — which will save you time at the airport. As a new
traveler, these extra minutes can definitely come in handy.
Once at the airport, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get through security and find
your gate. As a rule of thumb, airlines generally require travelers to arrive at the gate 30 minutes
prior to departure, so plan accordingly — and if you’re traveling internationally, give yourself
even more time. For most overseas destinations, you’ll have to check in and check bags at least
an hour before your flight. Give yourself an hour and a half to make sure you have some time to
Know Your Flight Status
Imagine arriving at the airport, only to hear the unwelcome news that your flight is six hours
late. To avoid any unpleasant surprises about delays and cancellations, look up your flight’s
status before you leave for the airport using a website or app like FlightStats. This will give you a
sense of preparations to make in case you need to kill time. If significant delays are expected,
pack some work or an extra paperback.
Take note, however: Most airlines recommend arriving at your flight’s pre scheduled time,
regardless of delays, in case a replacement aircraft becomes available, so don’t take the risk of
not showing up — especially if it’s your first time traveling — unless you’re willing to buy another
If you have a lot of time to kill, check out the sights and sounds! Some airports have multiple
terminals and provide mass transit systems to travel between them, and different terminals have
different amenities. From specialty bookstores to unique shops to funky artisan restaurants,
there’s usually something for everyone at major airports.
If you’re feeling anxious, take a breather and stop at one of the airport bars. A glass of high quality, full-bodied wine can help you unwind, especially if you take the time to enjoy it. Alcohol’s
calming effects have stood the test of 5,000 years; according to medical research, it soothes your
nervous system, which helps you disconnect from stress. But don’t drink too much, or you’ll risk
feeling nauseous and dehydrated on your flight.
Final Thoughts: Know the Rules
Now that you’re prepared for the lay of the land, make sure you keep tabs on TSA regulations,
such as baggage requirements and guidelines for mobile device usage. Because airport rules are
sometimes wont to change, check the Federal Aviation Administration site for the most recent
updates about these topics. Finally, if you’re ever lost or confused, just ask an airport staff
member; she or he will always be happy to send you in the right direction.
Kacey Mya is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.” Throughout her life, she has
found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications
while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the
knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, continuously building
her strong love for style while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and
expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.