Category Archives: Airports

18 Best Airport Hacks

Getting through the airport can be a tricky and harrowing business these days, so just showing up and hoping for the best won’t cut it. You need to be prepared, nimble and wily. To help you pull it off, we’ve compiled 18 airport hacks to help you slip from the parking garage to your gate with as little trouble as possible at every step along the way.

18 Best Airport Hacks

1. Check for information about destination and layover airports.

You’re probably pretty familiar with your own home airport, but layover and destination airports can be disorienting. The GateGuru app can help, with its airport maps that include amenities available in each terminal. This can save you time if you’re trying to find food or toiletries during a tight connection. The app also has information about airport Wi-Fi options, which can eliminate the hassle of trying to figure out which of a dozen available networks are legit.

2. Put a few Ziploc bags in your luggage.

Zip-top bags can be useful in countless ways when traveling (for liquids when going through airport security, to stow snacks, to keep your phone dry), so I always stow a few in the pockets of all my travel luggage. I leave them in there even between trips, and then replenish the stash as needed.

3. Have a dedicated set of “air travel clothes.”

Having a favorite set of clothes to wear on planes can make the minutes before you leave for your flight easier, and guarantee comfort at the airport and in flight. Your air travel clothes should be comfortable but presentable, neither too warm nor too thin and somewhat durable. Once you have chosen your air travel clothes, make sure they are clean and at the top of your packing list a couple of days before you travel.

4. If your luggage is overweight or close to it, wear more clothes.

When packing, if you suspect your luggage might be close to your airline’s weight limit (a small luggage scale can help you figure this out), put a jacket, sweatshirt or other heavy item of clothing in a front pocket or right at the top of your bag. If the airline calls out your bag as overweight at check-in, you can open the bag, rip out the garment and put it on. (This tip also works on the way home from a trip if your suitcase is weighted down by a few extra souvenirs.)

5. Pack stuff you will need within easy reach.

This applies to your carry-on; your “personal item” in which you might carry your ID, boarding pass and other critical items; and your checked luggage. Pack stuff you will need first or frequently in easily accessible locations to avoid the misery of digging through your bag in view of dozens of fellow travelers.

6. Take a photo of your parking spot.

Snap a picture of your parking spot before heading to the terminal, making sure to include signage identifying your location (level, aisle, etc.). At some airports the garage or terminal number is not obvious on the signage (this is the case in Philadelphia), so you may need to remember which garage you were in.

7. Put in-flight essentials all in one small bag.

Put everything you’ll need during the flight into a single small bag — earbuds, e-reader/book, a snack, etc. — so you can just grab it and stick it in the seatback pocket before you stow the rest of your stuff in the overhead bin or under the seat. (Note that if your in-flight necessities include liquids like antibacterial hand gel, you may have to transfer them into the small bag after you get through security.)

8. Pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on.

To avoid paying huge mark-ups for bottled water at the airport, bring your own empty bottle (which will go through security just fine) and fill up at a water fountain after the checkpoint.

9. Check in next to the first/business-class line.

As check-in becomes more automated, with most economy check-ins taking place at kiosks, standing in big lines is becoming less common, but some travelers swear by the tactic of using the check-in option closest to the first- and business-class counters, where agents will sometimes help economy travelers if no one is at their counter.

10. Use a jacket to carry on more stuff.

One photographer I know wears a photography vest that has a half-dozen large pockets designed for lenses, which he fills with his stuff. When he gets on the plane, he folds up the vest and puts it in the overhead bin next to his carry-on bag.

11. Wear a belt with a plastic buckle.

Some security agents will let you leave your belt on if it is not made of metal; a belt with a plastic buckle might save you the trouble of taking off your belt and having your clothes half falling off.

12. Bring a portable phone charger.

Having a portable phone charger can be a lifesaver if you can’t find an open outlet at the airport. You can also use it in-flight, when your phone is likely in airplane mode and therefore not using much power. This can be a great way to make sure you have charge when you land.

13. Bring a multi-plug adapter.

Especially if you are traveling with family or a group, bring an adapter that can turn one outlet into multiple ones so more people can plug in. Even if you arrive at the gate and all the outlets are in use, often a fellow traveler will share one with you if you have such an adapter.

14. Go to the left at security.

Apparently most humans are biased toward their dominant hand, so the fact that the majority of people are right-handed causes most people to select the security lane on the right when faced with a choice. Zig when they zag by checking out the lanes to your left.

15. Stow your stuff while going through the security line.

Don’t wait until you get to the front of the line to take your phone, keys, loose change and other stuff that security agents don’t like out of your pockets; take care of it while winding through the inevitable security line.

16. Find an empty gate during layovers or delays.

If you have a few hours to kill, opt for a more peaceful and comfortable experience by finding an empty gate where you can have seating, power outlets, Wi-Fi signals and brain space to yourself. Just be careful not to be too far away when announcements affecting your flight might kick in.

17. Sneak your stuff into a shopping bag.

If you’re having trouble adhering to the “one carry-on and one personal item” rule, some devious travel hackers suggest asking for a shopping bag at an airport store and putting your extra stuff in it. Gate agents will think it’s just some things you purchased, which they may not count against your carry-on allowance.

18. Be careful when wearing headphones at the gate.

Listening to music, streaming a podcast or watching a movie on your mobile device helps pass time at the gate, but also puts you at risk of missing important gate announcements. Be careful when tuning out the noise that you don’t also tune out the signal.

Do you have any cool or innovative airport hacks that we missed? Add them in the comments below. Until then, see you at the gate!

Beijing’s New Mega Airport Will Challenge Air China’s Dominance

Like ancient warlords, China’s three biggest airlines have dominated their regional cities: Air China Ltd. controlling Beijing, China Eastern Airlines Corp. holding sway in the financial center of Shanghai, and China Southern Airlines Co. ruling the roost down in export gateway Guangzhou. Until now.

Rising on a plain south of Beijing is a mega airport that is about to change the balance, bringing all three head to head in the capital as it becomes the world’s biggest aviation hub.

The new airport, due to open in 2019, has been designated by authorities as the hub for members of the SkyTeam alliance, a global group of airlines that includes China Eastern and China Southern. The two Chinese carriers will each be allowed to capture 40 percent of the airport’s passengers, gaining coveted time slots to Europe and the U.S. in Air China’s backyard.

An artist rendition of the Beijing New Airport Terminal building.
Source: Methanoia via Zaha Hadid Architects

“This is an absolute game-changer for China Eastern and China Southern,” said Corrine Png, chief executive officer of Crucial Perspective in Singapore. “Having all the SkyTeam alliance members under one roof will enable seamless flight connections.”

The invasion of Air China’s regional rivals has repercussions beyond China. As well as dominating their home bases, the big three Chinese players have each carved out a position abroad. Air China, through its Star Alliance ties with Deutsche Lufthansa AG and United Continental Holdings Inc., commands many of the routes to Europe and North America. China Eastern is the biggest carrier to Japan and South Korea. And China Southern is strong in Australia and Southeast Asia.

With access to more slots in Beijing, China Southern and China Eastern would potentially get more access to lucrative North American routes while their SkyTeam partners would get better access to the Chinese capital. In addition, China Southern, the nation’s biggest airline, would be able to draw traffic from its Southeast Asian links to fly via Beijing to the U.S.

Until then, they have to fight for slots at the existing airport which is close to capacity. Air China, part of Star Alliance, whose 28 members include United, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, controls 38 percent of the slots at Beijing Capital International Airport, which handled 94 million passengers in 2016—close to the maximum of 96 million.

“There are demands to add hundreds of flights in Beijing every day that get refused because we’re running out of resources,” said Liu Xuesong, general manager of Capital Airports Holding Co., the operator of Beijing’s existing airport. “The city is capable of running dual hubs.”

The new $12.9 billion airport in the southern suburb of Daxing, which was approved in 2014, would accommodate up to 100 million passengers a year with as many as seven runways. Liu estimates that by 2025, the two Beijing airports would share 170 million passengers, including 25 million on international flights.

Beijing is joining a select list of major cities with two or even three international airports, including London, New York, Tokyo and Paris. Unlike in Beijing, though, those airports usually take complementary roles, such as one serving international or intercontinental routes and the other focusing on domestic or regional flights.

“So far in history we haven’t seen any city or city clusters having two hubs of the same scale,” said Ma Chongxian, vice president of Air China’s parent company, China National Aviation Holding Co., at a conference in Beijing in May.

That’s because it’s usually airlines, rather than the government, who choose which airport to fly to, said Steve Saxon, a Shanghai-based partner at McKinsey & Co.

“China is different,” Saxon said. “The government has substantial influence over the three largest carriers,” which will help Beijing build two connecting hubs where other cities have failed.

China Southern has said it will deploy more than 200 aircraft at the new airport by 2020—about a fifth of its planned fleet by that time.

China Eastern will have “a remarkable advantage” by being a hub carrier both in Shanghai and Beijing as the capital is better positioned geographically as a connecting point for Europe and North America, said Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation. China Eastern already accounts for 50 percent of the market for the top 10 international flights from the country’s financial hub Shanghai.

The construction of the new Beijing airport isn’t all bad news for Air China. Its airport is closer to downtown, about 25 minutes in smooth traffic to the main business district in the eastern part of the capital, or the same time by train.

Planned road and rail links from the new airport would also whisk travelers into Beijing in about half an hour, but to the southwest, a part of the city that’s less convenient for most business executives, especially during the capital’s notoriously congested peak traffic times.

“Air China is likely to win share on key business routes,” said McKinsey’s Saxon, “similar to how British Airways benefits from the privileged position it has in the more convenient London Heathrow.”

That could affect the lucrative Beijing-Shanghai route, where China Eastern commands nearly 60 percent of the market, data compiled by Huatai Securities Co. show.

An artist rendition of the Beijing New Airport Terminal building.
Source: Methanoia via Zaha Hadid Architects

The division of Beijing’s airports by alliance leaves out the third-biggest group, Oneworld. Members of the group, started in 1999 by Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and four other carriers, are instead relying on individual links with the Chinese airlines.

Oneworld member American Airlines Group Inc., announced in March a 2.7 percent stake purchase in China Southern for $200 million, and will deploy some of its flights at the new Beijing airport as part of the deal. The U.S. carrier had to postpone the launch of a Los Angeles-to-Beijing flight earlier this year as it failed to secure a time slot.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which has a 3.2 percent stake in China Eastern, should also earn more slots at the new airport.

A representative for Cathay didn’t respond to an email seeking comments.

Chinese authorities have committed to preserving slots at the current and new airports for carriers that already fly to Beijing, Oneworld said in an e-mail. It said 10 Oneworld members serve the city with a total of 163 weekly flights from 16 international destinations.

One major effect of all the expansion will be some very congested skies over China, which has some of the most constricted airspace in the world because of priority for military planes.


CAPA estimates that only about 20 percent the airspace over China is open to civilian flights—one of the reasons for Chinese airlines’ spotty on-time performance record.

“There is no point opening another massive airport without addressing the restricted airspace issue,” Crucial Perspective’s Png said.

The first airport gym in the United States just opened. Expect more in the next four years.

By By  – Work out while waiting for your flight? That’s an option now at Baltimore Washington International Airport, where the only gym at a U.S. airport past security opened this week with plans to open 20 more at airports by 2020.

It’s the latest example of how fitness and health trends have started showing up at airports. Yoga rooms and walking tracks have opened at airports around North America over the past few years, and healthier food options are also easier to find in airports now. You can even get a kombucha to wash down a salad made with locally sourced produce.

The ROAM Fitness gym at BWI includes an attendant who monitors guests’ flights and will alert them if there’s a delay. There’s even free luggage storage, options for renting workout clothes and shoes, and showers. Fees range from $40 a day to $175 a month.

The concept was initially envisioned for international travelers and others with long layovers, but research revealed that many other travelers wanted to squeeze in a workout before or after landing.

“A lot of people coming from the West Coast taking red-eye flights are going straight to their business meeting but they land at 6:30 in the morning. They can’t check into their hotel yet … so it just gives them the opportunity to clean up before they head to that meeting,” said ROAM Fitness CEO Cynthia Sandall.

Roughly 4,000 travelers a month use GoodLife Fitness’ gym at Toronto airport, a 33 percent increase from when it opened in 2014, the company said.

But the concept may not work everywhere. The airport at Las Vegas had a gym that closed. Christopher Berger, who chairs the American College of Sports Medicine task force on healthy air travel, says the gyms’ success may depend on the destination. He thinks they may be best suited for hubs with long layovers.

“You take someplace like (Chicago) O’Hare, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle … I think you’ve got a real chance of selling it,” he said.

San Francisco airport’s yoga room has been so successful that a second one opened in 2014. Airport officials say it’s used daily. After a few downward dogs, yogis can also order a green juice or curry bowl at The Plant Cafe where everything is made with local and organic ingredients. There’s also Napa Farms Market, Joe & the Juice and new vending machines offering organic, gluten-free and sugar-free snacks.

Other amenities in the pipeline as major airports look to become destinations in their own right include movie theaters, more fine dining and better shopping, says Lorraine Sileo, a senior vice president with the travel market research firm Phocuswright.

But fitness and wellness offerings may be especially appealing to travelers getting on or off cramped planes.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, there’s a yoga studio with free mats, a walking path and two 55-foot staircases for an extra cardio challenge. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has a 1.4 mile walking path. Philadelphia’s airport had a temporary program where passengers could cycle on stationary bikes while waiting for their flights. Baltimore Washington International also offers bike rentals and a 12.5-mile trail just outside the airport.

While airports still sell plenty of greasy fast food, many airport eateries also now feature local, organic ingredients and vegan and gluten-free options. Icebox Cafe at Miami International Airport, which uses locally sourced food, reported above-average sales of $3.1 million last fiscal year. Other examples of vendors bringing healthier fare to airports include Nature’s Table in Atlanta and Orlando, Elephants Delicatessen at Portland International Airport in Oregon, and French Meadow Bakery, in four airports including Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

Ann Gentry, founder of the popular vegan eatery Real Food Daily, has an airport location in addition to two others in the Los Angeles area.

“I knew it was going to be a hit because in our (two other restaurants) people were coming in getting bags of food for the plane, so we were very accustomed to packing up food for the plane,” she said.

But not everyone who patronizes Real Food Daily at the airport location realizes it’s vegan. Some order a spicy lentil burger and bring it back complaining they didn’t know it wouldn’t have meat. On the flip side, some travelers say they enjoyed her airport grub so much they sought out the restaurant while in town.

10 Air Travel Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

  1. Not signing up for PreCheck 

This is Numero Uno for a reason.  We talked about this before, but it is worth repeating:  The fee is the best $85 (or $100) you will ever spend.  As a PreCheck traveler, you avoid the despair inducing regular security lines.  You don’t need to take laptops or toiletries out of your bag or take off your shoes, belts or light jackets.  This all means the PreCheck screening lines move much faster.

If you are a parent traveling with children, no longer will you worry about juggling wailing babies, wandering toddlers and your laptop case. Germophobes can relax as their shoes stay on as a barrier against the germ-ridden terminal floor.  And the final bonus?  No longer will you stand exposed in that invasively menacing body scanner.


  1. Failing to download your airline’s app

Every major airline has an app.  If you have an upcoming trip, download it before you go.  Use it to look at the seat map and pick a new seat (subject to availability based on your fare basis).  Before your flight, use it to check in and get a non-misplaceable electronic boarding pass.  No more scouring multiple pockets for your boarding pass.  Almost all airlines allow free Wi-Fi connection to their app inflight.  You can see your route, and check on schedule delays.  At your connection airport, you can plan your path through the terminal while you are taxiing in, and see if your gate has changed during the flight.  You won’t exit the plane and wonder if you turn right or left!  And many times, the information on the app is often more up-to-date than the terminal’s information screens.  If your stopover is short, it could make the difference between making or missing your next flight.


  1. Not checking in online

Directly related to #2 is failing to check in online.  With an app, it is done right in the app.  But even if you don’t, the ticket can be sent to your phone via either text or email.  If you have no luggage to check, you skip the counter and head straight to the security line.   Most airlines feature kiosks where you can add your checked luggage without standing in the regular check in lines.  Some airlines only allow seat selection at check in.  By checking in online (usually 24 hours before departure), you can have a better seat selection.


  1. Having a passport that expires soon

You check your passport before an upcoming international trip, and sigh a relief that there are six months left before it expires.  Maybe that is misplaced. Some countries won’t let you in if your passport expires within three or even six months of your planned date of entry.   The reason is math.  Say you arrive in a Schengen area country as a US visitor.  You get ninety days of visa free travel, even if you are there for a week.  So the immigration officials in that country assume you will be in their country with a passport with less than three months – correct or not.

Check the entry requirements for the country you plan to visit, and renew your passport in advance.  Don’t get turned back at the airport.


  1. Not having a travel permission letter

The explosion of child abductions in custody cases, and children who are the victims of trafficking or pornography, has led to an increased insistence on letters of consent for international travel for children not in the company of two parents.  Children traveling alone, with only one parent, with another family member, or with another child, will all require notarized travel consent letters.  It is a common misconception that these letters are only required for divorced parents.  Don’t get to the airport and find out you and your child can’t travel.


  1. “Waiting in line” during irregular ops

Any air travel will teach you that plans don’t always happen.  Weather, air traffic or mechanical delays are all a not too uncommon experience.  The question is, what then?  How do you get alternate plans?  Usually, it is in an excruciatingly long line with everyone else in the same predicament.  How do you make sure it isn’t you?  First, before you every get off the flight, call the airline’s reservations line.  If you have elite status, call that number.  Your objective is to get to the head of the line, because in today’s age of full flights, the number of alternative seats is limited.  And you want one before everybody else gets them.


The other option happens when your airline has a club or lounge in your airport.  Seriously consider buying a day pass to get access to the more experienced agents there to cater to those elite flyers.  The lines are almost shorter inside those doors as well.


  1. Losing your temper with airline personnel

Before, I confessed my sins in this department.  It is only a matter of time until you will need help during your air travels.  In almost every circumstance, there is are few people that a) care and b) can help you.  Does it make sense to totally alienate those persons by allowing your frustration to reach the surface?  It never pays to be irritated, piqued or cross. Those gate agents, flight attendants, TSA agents and even your fellow travelers are almost certainly not having a good day as well.  You don’t improve your situation by trying to make theirs worse.


  1. Not “prepping” for the security lines

I am a PreCheck traveler.  But I prepare as though I’m not.  Because there are times, when that line is closed, I’m in an airport without it, or I get the random security diversion to the regular lines.  So, my computer bag has an attached sleeve to quickly expose my laptop.  My toiletries are in a compliant bag that is easily withdrawn from my carry-on.  I only wear slip-on shoes.  If I have a coat, I put all my pocket contents in it before I get to the line – phone, wallet, car keys, change.  No coat, it all goes in my computer bag – and I get away from the TSA area before retrieving any of them.


  1. Packing valuables or medicine in your checked baggage

Think your valuables are secure inside your bag, even with your TSA compliant locks?  Think again.  It is almost like there was nothing in a thief’s way.  Putting your jewelry, electronics, or camera equipment in your bag is begging to have it stolen.

There isn’t a danger of having your medicine stolen like your valuables.  Here, the danger is in having your checked bags delayed a day or two.  That is a manageable risk that is avoided 100% by putting five days of medicine in your carry-on.


  1. Not planning for baggage fees

Baggage fees are a way of life.  Airlines are making too much money to give that revenue up.  But you don’t have to contribute more than necessary to their profits.  The first hack is to look at the airline’s cobranded credit card.  Every major airline has them, and they almost all come with some kind of “first bag” (or more) free.  If you regularly fly one airline, it is crazy to not have their card.  If there is an annual fee, it will quickly be paid off in your first or second flight.

Second hack is to pay them online when you check in.  We talked about staying out of the long check in lines.  This will keep you away from those horrible lines.  Third applies mainly to low cost carriers.  Last year, we flew from Singapore to Hong Kong on Air Asia.  It was the middle of a three-week trip, and we had PLENTY of bags.  By paying for excess baggage in advance online, we cut the baggage fee by 2/3s.  Pays to check.

Final note is if you follow none of these hacks, you will be at the counter paying the fee.  Please don’t be surprised, or worse, indignant, that you are paying them.  It is part of the new reality.

So, ten things that will make your air travel, which is already inherently stressful, much less so.

10 Huge Mistakes People Make at the Airport

it’s no secret that air travel has lost some of its glamour over the years. We might be able to attribute these changes to increased security procedures, more people traveling, or simply lack of common sense, but one thing is certain: people seem to do the darnedest things when they step into an airport. Study this list and don’t get caught being one of these travelers.

1. Oops, my passport is about to expire.
Traveling abroad comes with a few additional considerations to remember. Almost all countries require that there be at least six months of remaining validity on the passport, and some (like South Africa) tack on stipulations that there need to be at least two consecutive blank pages. Airlines also have to verify information before boarding for countries that require visas. Many a passenger has been left stranded and crying at the gate because they overlooked these rules. Airlines are held accountable and fined heavily if they let a passenger travel without proper documentation, so save your sob stories—they will not sway even the kindest of gate agents.

2. Losing track of time
It’s easy to be distracted by dazzling duty-free shopping, the lengthy bar menu, or airline lounges with comfy seats and buffet spreads. But don’t forget that when traveling across time zones, you need to be sure to keep track of local time (your watch may not always be right). Keep in mind that airlines close the door 15-20 minutes before the actual departure time to properly prepare the needed paperwork and weight and balance information. Gate agents do have a term for late-arriving passengers from connecting flights—”runners”—and they watch for them when the clock starts ticking. It’s never fun to be that last sweaty person to board after running through the terminal.

3. Not planning for baggage fees
Unless you are flying Southwest Airlines or are headed abroad, chances are you will have to pay for checked luggage. Despite this surcharge being around for more than a decade, many travelers still arrive dazed and confused when asked to pay for a bag. Study your airline’s baggage policy (not all are created equally), and beware weight and size limitations. There are ways around the extra fees: get a credit card that offers free checked bags or earn status with a frequent flier program. Often, free bags are extended to those traveling with an elite member, too. Of course, you can always fly first class, but even then, some airlines have adjusted checked bag policies (American recently reduced the checked bag limits from three to two for most first-class passengers).

Handle lost luggage like a pro. +

4. Thinking that an airline will never lose your luggage
Let’s hope it doesn’t happen—but there’s always a chance it will, and if it does, you will be glad you planned ahead. Place your phone number and address inside the bag for an airline to easily contact you. Also, place a colorful ribbon or identifiable tag on your bag to prevent it from being mistakenly snatched by someone else in a hurry. I have seen several passengers rush back to the gate embarrassed after grabbing the wrong bag. Carry a change of clothing in hand baggage, and always keep valuables and needed medication with you.

5. Thinking TSA Pre-Check is always faster
Pre-Check is one of the best things to happen to frequent travelers recently. But, experienced fliers are used to seeing novices using the line (mostly because of managed inclusion programs that randomly send passengers to the expedited line). You don’t need to remove shoes and electronics if in the expedited line (yet some people still do). And for heaven’s sake, sign up for Pre-Check so you, too, can usually have faster screening.

6. Being in your own little world
We’ve all seen them: travelers aimlessly walking through the airport with headphones on or texting with heads down. You are not the only person in the airport, so be courteous to those around you; it’s not possible to hear a beeping airport cart or someone trying to pass by with headphones on at full blast. Your fellow travelers will also thank you for not standing in the middle of the moving walkway or escalator when people are trying to pass. Don’t be that guy!

7. Rushing—even if you’re in a rush
You’re standing there, barefoot, with your belt off and personal toiletries exposed. But, don’t let security people or other passengers make you feel rushed. It’s so easy to forget something in the mad dash, like say a laptop or wallet. Tape a business card to electronic devices as a backup. I once left my laptop at security because a screening agent was barking at people to move along. When I realized my mistake later, TSA would not return it until I gave specific details of what was on my computer. It’s a good thing I had plenty of time.

8. Not booking a connecting flights on the same ticket
Savvy travelers can sometimes skirt higher fares by buying two separate tickets between cities or connecting from one airline to another. While it’s a great idea in theory, it can lead to mishap if checking bags or not allowing enough time to change planes. If you’re not traveling on the same itinerary throughout your trip, airlines are not liable for missed connections or delayed travel. And don’t forget: sometimes you have to clear security a second time between flights.

Don't let the line get you down. +

9. Wasting time in line
These days, airline social media teams are an excellent resource when it comes to travel interruptions. Connect with them online while waiting in line or calling the 1-800 number. You are likely to get a faster solution and friendlier service than the exhausted airline employee dealing with grumpy fliers at the airport. If you have access to an airline lounge, don’t forget agents can assist you there, and lines are much shorter. It may even be worth paying for a day pass for expedited service and a cocktail or two while you wait.

10. Not checking and double checking
A hard and fast rule I have learned over the years is to double check everything. Just because the gate agent said your connecting gate is B6 does not mean it has not changed. Just because an airline ticket agent says the flight is full and no room to standby, does not mean that other passengers might be late, opening up seats. Just because someone says you cannot get a free hotel room due to an overnight flight delay does not mean that said person was misinformed or unclear on the rules. Never pester and always be polite, but just because someone says something is so, does not always mean it is so. At airports, it seems people are more eager to tell you something to move you along rather than to genuinely be right.

The real reason airport shops want to see your boarding pass

Airport retailers are using information on boarding cards to claim back millions in VAT – and are rarely passing the savings on to passengers

The real reason airport shops want to see your boarding passAirport retailers have been accused of misleading travellers by claiming millions in VAT refunds without passing on the savings to passengers.

The vast majority of airport shops in the UK request that passengers hand over their boarding passes to be scanned at the checkout – a practice that few realise is used to help stores claim back VAT of 20 per cent on goods sold to passengers flying outside the EU.

And research by the Independent has revealed that – while retailers suggest goods are tax free – these savings are often not passed on to customers.

It found that Boots, one of the worst offenders, charges the same for all products sold in airports as it does on the high street. A bottle of Nivea Sun Spray, for example, costs £8, meaning Boots can reclaim £1.60 from HMRC if it is sold to a passenger travelling outside the EU. But rather than cutting the cost of the product, it is simply pocketing the difference.

Other retailers were found to be offering small reductions in their airport outlets, but still keeping the lion’s share of the savings. Dixons charges £619 for an iPhone 6 on the high street. In airport stores, it’s slightly cheaper, at £593.99 – but that’s nowhere near the £123.80 saving Dixons makes on every iPhone 6 sold to non-EU passengers. One item on sale at World Duty Free (Clarins Double Serum, 30ml) was priced at £45.80, despite being available for less on the high street, and despite the retailer saving £9.16 in VAT to many fliers.

“Handing over your boarding pass at the airport shop, even if you’re buying nothing more than a copy of The Telegraph, has become practically second nature – but I bet very few people realised why retailers can be so insistent,” said Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s Consumer Editor.

“And no wonder – the biggest retailers must save millions in VAT each year. But surely it’s those passengers flying outside the EU that ought to be making the savings?”

He added that there is a “general lack of transparency” when it comes to airport prices. “I’d like to see a clear breakdown of exactly how much you are saving on duty-free goods, rather than just a final price,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Boots confirmed that its airport staff are requested to scan boarding passes to ensure an “accurate reporting of VAT”, but said it was not compulsory.

“The HMRC and airports accept that this is general practice for all retailers located within airport terminals,” she told The Independent.

A spokesman for HMRC confirmed that passengers are not legally obliged to hand over their boarding pass.

Dixons said it follows the “standard practice of non-duty free airport retailers in offering one single, great value price across products”.

It added: “We are not duty free; instead, we offer customers a simple, single price and give them our price promise to beat key online competitors.”

WHSmith claimed that dual pricing – showing 20 per cent discounts for non-EU passengers – was a “practical impossibility”.

Dixons said it follows the “standard practice of non-duty free airport retailers in offering one single, great value price across products”.

It added: “We are not duty free; instead, we offer customers a simple, single price and give them our price promise to beat key online competitors.”

WHSmith claimed that dual pricing – showing 20 per cent discounts for non-EU passengers – was a “practical impossibility”.

“WHSmith policy states that boarding passes should be requested from customers, and not demanded,” said a spokeswoman. “Any VAT relief associated with the identification of customers travelling outside of the EU is reported in accordance with UK legislation, and any relief obtained is reflected in our single price and extensive promotional offers provided to all of our customers.”

But some stores have clearly found a way. Harrods sells all its products VAT-free in its Heathrow stores.


By The post The real reason airport shops want to see your boarding pass appeared first on Telegraph..

Airport workers reveal 14 hacks that will make your next flight easier

The inconveniences of air travel can range for disastrous to mildly irritating, whether it’s a canceled flight or a seemingly endless security line. Thankfully, the good people on Reddit banded together and enlisted airport workers, from rampers to flight attendants, to reveal travel hacks straight from the source.

Here are 14 of their best tips to help you navigate your next trip with ease:

Avoid paying for a luggage cart by using one that was left in the pickup area outside of the terminal by someone who didn’t return theirs. Bonus: Return it for money.

Avoid paying for a luggage cart by using one that was left in the pickup area outside of the terminal by someone who didn't return theirs. Bonus: Return it for money.

Reuters/Joshua Lott

Take batteries out of electric toothbrushes and other appliances before packing them. Vibrating suitcases have grounded many flights because of security concerns.

Take batteries out of electric toothbrushes and other appliances before packing them. Vibrating suitcases have grounded many flights because of security concerns.

Happy Kids, Inc/Flickr

If you lose something, check all of the lost-and-founds. The Transportation Security Administration, the airport police, and each airline have their own.

If you lose something, check all of the lost-and-founds. The Transportation Security Administration, the airport police, and each airline have their own.

Flickr/Beth Jusino

Anything that’s been sitting in lost and found for more than 90 days is usually up for grabs. So, if you need something desperately, like a phone charger, just be honest and ask. Chances are that one has been unclaimed for 90 days, so they’ll just give it to you.

Instead of putting small items like jewelry through the X-ray machine in a separate bin, put them in the pocket of a jacket or bag. That will clear more space on the conveyor belt and move the security line along faster.

Instead of putting small items like jewelry through the X-ray machine in a separate bin, put them in the pocket of a jacket or bag. That will clear more space on the conveyor belt and move the security line along faster.


To avoid paying upward of $3 for a drink, bring an empty water bottle and fill it when you get past security. This reduces waste from plastic bottles.

To avoid paying upward of $3 for a drink, bring an empty water bottle and fill it when you get past security. This reduces waste from plastic bottles.

Melia Robinson

Or, freeze your water or Gatorade. Apparently, as long as liquids are frozen solid, they’re OK with the TSA.

Or, freeze your water or Gatorade. Apparently, as long as liquids are frozen solid, they're OK with the TSA.

YouTube/The King of Random

Ask for the whole can of your drink order. Flight attendants will usually give it to you.

Ask for the whole can of your drink order. Flight attendants will usually give it to you.


Schmooze the crew with chocolate. Apparently, flight attendants often get each other chocolates when flying privately, so they might think that you’re one of them and give you preferential treatment. At the very least, they’ll be grateful.

Schmooze the crew with chocolate. Apparently, flight attendants often get each other chocolates when flying privately, so they might think that you're one of them and give you preferential treatment. At the very least, they'll be grateful.

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty

If a flight is canceled or overbooked, call the airline’s 800 number instead of getting into a terrifyingly long line. The customer-service representative on the phone can do anything that the gate agent can. Or, even better, call while waiting in line, and work with whichever becomes available first.

If a flight is canceled or overbooked, call the airline's 800 number instead of getting into a terrifyingly long line. The customer-service representative on the phone can do anything that the gate agent can. Or, even better, call while waiting in line, and work with whichever becomes available first.


Bring a plug extension for airport outlets. If you have extra outlets, offer them and make some new friends.

Bring a plug extension for airport outlets. If you have extra outlets, offer them and make some new friends.


We can’t guarantee that this works, but try rolling back your computer’s clock for more time on Wi-Fi.

We can't guarantee that this works, but try rolling back your computer's clock for more time on Wi-Fi.

Adam Berry/Getty Images

Include your flight number on your car-rental reservation so rental agents know whether your flight is delayed or not and when to expect you.

Include your flight number on your car-rental reservation so rental agents know whether your flight is delayed or not and when to expect you.

REUTERS/Jason Redmond

Use, a travel site that tells you which seat is the best on any given plane based on passenger reviews.

Use, a travel site that tells you which seat is the best on any given plane based on passenger reviews.

The 16 Airports That all Airline Pilots Love Flying to

By What makes the perfect landing? Beautiful scenery, jovial ground crew, and white-knuckle crosswinds that mean the autopilot stays off; according to the pilots we questioned, that’s the secret of job satisfaction.

1. Naples, Italy

“The views during descent and approach are breath-taking! I enjoy the challenges this airport brings due to the steeper than normal approaches to both runways. The approach to Runway 06 is also offset requiring a visual transition to line up with the runway centreline. Stepping out onto the ramp into the sunshine during the turnaround is always an added bonus!



“Closer to home, my absolute favourite is London Heathrow. On a clear day the views of the city approaching Runways 27L and 27R from the north are amazing. The air traffic controllers here are second to none, another reason I love flying into this airport. It always amazes me the outstanding job they do in precisely managing the heavy flow of traffic both into and out of here.” – Captain Sonya Bissett, Aer Lingus

2. Christchurch, New Zealand

“I love to fly into Christchurch as it has the most incredible landscape: it’s the ultimate scenic flight. Alps covered in snow, valleys filled with cerulean blue snow melt and patchwork fields covered in tiny white sheep-dots. After landing we’re always met with a friendly Kiwi smile and a subtle ribbing as to how we’re doing in the rugby or cricket.” – Captain Mark Goodwin, Qantas

3. Leeds Bradford, UK

“Returning to Leeds Bradford after the dry plains of Spain is always a treat. From the flight deck I can see the beautiful rolling hills of Yorkshire. What always surprises me is just how green the landscape is.

Heading home…

A photo posted by Flying Fox 🇬🇧✈️ (@flying_foxoir) on



“I also love going into Gibraltar. It has such a great approach as you sweep around the massive rock with a view of all the gigantic tankers moored out in the bay. It really is a truly epic arrival but no chance to take photos – for obvious safety reasons!” – Pilot Paul Fox, Monarch

4. Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

“Funchal is always exciting. The airport is on the stunning volcanic island of Madeira, rising out of the Atlantic in an archipelago of a few small islands. The runway is carved into the side of a mountain with a steep slope on one side and a 200ft drop into the sea on the other. Half of the runway is actually built on stilts as there was not enough land to build a runway of sufficient length.



“All approaches to Funchal are visual: pilots must use their high levels of training, judgement and flying skill to negotiate the curving approach to the runway. This is while managing the wind conditions that swirl around the mountain and cause quickly changing cross and tailwinds. Only certain pilots are certified to fly there.” – Captain Ally Wilcox, British Airways

5. Innsbruck, Austria

“Innsbruck Kranebitten Airport in Austria is my favourite airport. The views of the Alps that we get from the flight deck on most days are just amazing. “We get special training every year in the simulator for this airport as it’s especially challenging: the mountains that surround the airport; the possibility of heavy snow; strong winds that can come down the Brenner Pass causing quite bad turbulence; and a rather short runway. But that makes it even more rewarding flying there!” – Pilot Rob Kooyman, Monarch

6. Jersey, UK

“My favourite UK airport would be Jersey. It is technically interesting: it has a fairly short runway for a medium-sized jet aircraft which requires careful planning and landing distance calculations. When the doors are opened it is almost always warmer than mainland UK – it just shouts ‘holiday time’ at you.

“Further afield, my current favourite is Athens. We normally arrive onto the northerly runway 03L due to prevailing local winds. It’s a very early arrival and we watch the sun rise on the way in. After landing we are usually met by Stavros our local crazy Greek handler who has us all laughing with his latest escapades – often in rather too much detail…” – DB, European Freight operator

7. London Heathrow, UK

“I love arriving at London Heathrow. First officers, who sit on the right side of the cockpit, usually have the best views when landing. I love to see the Thames, and the old docklands once famed for their ‘forest of masts’, a reminder of London’s great maritime history that’s somehow particularly pleasing to contemplate from the flight deck of a modern-day vessel like a 747.

“Cape Town is also spectacular. After a long, quiet overnight journey across Europe and from one end of Africa to the other, there’s nothing quite like the sight of Table Mountain rising just as dawn breaks. From the air, looking out at one of the world’s most beautiful intersections of land and sea, it’s obvious why this city remains one of the most popular destinations for crew and customers alike. “It’s also handy for Diaz Beach, my favourite beach in the world, which is near the Cape of Good Hope. It’s at the bottom of a challenging set of steps, and it’s often too rough and cold to swim here, but it’s the perfect place to put on your headphones, catch some sun, and watch two oceans at work.” – Pilot Mark Vanhoenacker, British Airways

8. New York, USA

“JFK’s ‘Canarsie’ approach is my personal favourite. Named after the navigation aid (VOR) on which it is based, this approach is essentially a cloud break manoeuvre to runway 13L at Kennedy, designed to get you in position to complete the landing visually.

“Quite often given at short notice, this can be a challenging approach in a large aircraft, and a daunting one if the weather is poor. It is one of very few approaches in a large commercial aircraft where a pilot has the opportunity to switch all the automation off and fly the aircraft manually whilst remaining visual with the runway on a curved descent profile, often with a healthy tailwind until close to the runway.” – Captain Michael Landy, Aer Lingus




9. Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, Australia

“The approach to Hamilton takes you across beautiful island beaches and turquoise ocean vistas. Yachts are regularly in the vicinity and the airport is next to a marina. The surroundings, along with the demeanour of the staff, make you feel more relaxed as soon as you arrive. It makes you never want to leave!” – Captain Al Crawford, Qantas

Landing at Hamilton Island

Landing at Hamilton Island  Credit:alamy




10. Stavanger, Norway

“One of my favourite approaches is on to Runway 18 at Stavanger Sola Airport in Norway. On a clear day, flying down the coastline and then over the lakes as you approach the airport is absolutely stunning.” – First Officer Hannah Vaughan, British Airways

11. Gibraltar

“Gibraltar can be rather challenging with the limits on the wind as it rolls around the rock and can make it extremely turbulent on landing, but what I really like is the fact it’s also rather an old school approach. They have no landing aids at Gibraltar, so it’s back to basics: just the stick and rudder.

“No autopilot is used and it is hand flown visually; its great when landing onto the easterly runways and you come in low around the rock and pass the harbour for a touchdown on a very short runway. The main road into Gibraltar actually crosses the runway, so they stop the traffic and pedestrians.

“The easiest place to land is Faro on the Algarve. The flight is very straight forward, with very little radio talk. Portuguese air traffic control is very chilled: the minute you come into Portuguese airspace you’re cleared straight to final approach. Its ground crew are very relaxed too.” – Anonymous commercial pilot

12. Beijing, China

“When I started going to Beijing more than 20 years ago, all the aircraft cleaners (up to 20) stood on parade to meet the arrival. They stood at attention, to one side, all dressed in the same uniform, only breaking ranks to come on board once you had parked. It gave the impression to the crew and customers of being met by a guard of honour, and is something that will always remain with me.

“The other destination that stands out for me is Malė in the Maldives which still has the most fantastic views of coral atolls that you are likely to see anywhere in the world.” – Captain Geoff Leask, British Airways

The Maldives, as seen from above

The Maldives, as seen from above Credit:AP

13. Kittilä, Finland

“My home country Kittilä, in northern Finland, is at its best during the winter months when there is hardly any daylight and often freezing fog, which gives it a fairytale-like lighting when the lights reflect upwards and there is a lot of snow. You are met by friendly staff, and the passengers are like children playing with in the snow when exiting the plane. During the winter season you might even see Santa Claus with his reindeer.

Worldwide, my pick would be Hong Kong with the tiny islands popping up from the sea and the high green hills around the populated area. One would never think that there is so much unpopulated land around the city with skyscrapers and millions of inhabitants. I guess there is hardly an office with a better view…” – Captain Camilla Sommar, Finnair

14. Ilulissat, Greenland

“I recently flew to Ilulissat, a very remote coastal town in the Qaasuitsup municipality in western Greenland. With a population of only around 5,000 people and because of its location north of the Arctic Circle, it is one of the most peaceful places that I have ever been to.



“The nearby Ilulissat Icefjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with astonishing giant white icebergs coming off the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere. You can’t help but be captured by the serenity of the place.” – Jonny Nicol, Founder and CEO of Stratajet

15. Innsbruck, Austria

“Innsbruck is one of the most challenging airports we fly to at British Airways; it requires extra simulator training as it is so technical. I love the challenge of a different style of approach, and the breath-taking views as you descend into the valley. It’s such a rewarding feeling when you land into such a beautiful corner of the earth.” – First Officer Katie Leask, British Airways

16. San Francisco, USA

“An amazing approach with spectacular and iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. It’s also a wonderful city to spend a few days in.

“I normally set off for a bike ride at first light, cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping for breakfast in Sausalito before heading out into the hills in the Marin Headlands. To get back across the bay at the end of the day it’s either the ferry or back up over the bridge depending on how much energy I have left.” – Senior First Officer Ian Palframan, British Airways

10 International Airlines That Make You Actually Want to Fly Economy

13109-5618040697-e2a2d63263-bYou don’t have to be in your golden years to know about the golden age of flying. Those were the good ol’ days: dressing to the nines, cocktailing with fellow passengers, lavish hospitality — you know, the stories your grandparents tell you. Today we’re grateful to grab a bag of Doritos on JetBlue or get handed a bag of biscuits with our coffee on Delta.

Flying Economy on domestic airlines rarely impresses Americans these days — hence those McDonald’s-toting, pajama-wearing passengers. But many international airlines are still doing it right, and, frankly, cater to their own domestic passengers much better than our airlines do here in the U.S. Much progress has been made over recent years with new systems for Wi-Fi, in-flight entertainment, and chef-designed meals — giving fliers much greater choice and variety to occupy their time during a flight, especially on long distance routes. Itching to book that flight? Here are our 10 favorite airlines for flying the distance.

1. Asiana Airlines

Photo Credit: Clément Alloing, Flickr
Photo Credit: Clément Alloing, Flickr

You have to love an airline that refers to its Economy Class as “Travel Class.” South Korea’s Asiana Airlines has a seat pitch at 33 inches, and free In-Flight Entertainment with individual screens loaded with the latest movies and shows to keep you entertained. Meal service includes the Korean mainstay Bibimbap, and more recently the airline implemented the award-winning “Nutritious Ssambap” — a traditional Korean meal loaded with fresh ssam vegetables and nuts. Meanwhile, free high-quality wines in Economy Class are selected by a team of sommeliers. All planes provide in-seat AC power, and basic amenity kits (including slippers) are provided to all passengers on long-haul routes.

2. Singapore Airlines

Photo Credit: Singapore Airlines
Photo Credit: Singapore Airlines

Like the perfectionist city that it calls home, Singapore Airlines is known for outstanding service, generous sized meals, self-serve snack bars, padded seats with footrests and optional lumbar support, and large warm blankets. Passengers have in-seat power or can use the 10.6-inch LCD personal screens to browse the over 1,000 entertainment options (movies, tv programs, music, games and apps) on KrisWorld — the airline’s in-flight entertainment system. Economy class menus include a blend of Asian and international dishes chosen to reflect the cultural flavors of the airline’s destinations. In fact, there’s a team of eight chefs — including Alfred Portale of NYC’s Gotham — that make up the airline’s International Culinary Panel, which is constantly creating new dishes.

3. Virgin Atlantic

Photo Credit: Mike_fleming, Flickr
Photo Credit: Mike_fleming, Flickr

While many airlines choose a traditional vibe, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic stands out for the hip and contemporary in-flight environment — even in economy class. Everyone receives a bottle of water upon settling in as they peruse the amenity kit and K-iD backpacks for little ones. The personal seat-back TV is full of curated entertainment options, and the smartly-dressed British crew is quick to offer free pre-dinner cocktails. For the main event, there’s a tasty three-course meal including a cold starter, choice of three hot main dishes, pudding, cheese and biscuits, and fresh bread, along with either red or white wine. Then its finished off with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Depending on the flight, the crew will offer afternoon tea, breakfast, or another light meal later on before landing.

4. Cathay Pacific

Photo Credit: Tom Mascardo, Flickr
Photo Credit: Tom Mascardo, Flickr

Comfort is key for Hong Kong-based Cathay, and economy seats for long-haul flights are the LEAP® Live Back™ upholstered seats, each with an adjustable headrest. Each aircraft includes in-seat power, and on-demand entertainment from the airline’s award-winning StudioCX (provided in 10 languages) with a whopping 100 movies, 500 TV shows, 888 music CDs, 22 radio channels, and over 70 games. Or you can connect your iPod, iPhone, or iPad to stream your own music and movies to the screen. Storage options at each seat help keep everyone organized with amenity pockets, hooks to hang coats or sweaters, and cup holders without lowering tray tables. Meal service offers free cocktails and regional main dishes, while First Class passengers traveling to London, Paris, New York, Toyko andMilan receive à la carte menus designed with partner Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

5. Emirates

Photo Credit: Andy Mitchell, Flickr
Photo Credit: Andy Mitchell, Flickr

Most of us have heard about the Dubai-based airline’s luxurious first-class cabin, but the economy class cabins provide a good deal of awesome perks as well, starting with the 100 pounds of luggage allowance at check-in (most airlines allow 50 pounds). Seats are equipped with power outlets, ambient lighting, and the award-winning in-flight entertainment system called Ice with 2,000 channels of programming in multiple languages. Recently, Emirates invested $20 million to equip its entire fleet with Wi-Fi. On most fleets, flyers can get online for free for the first 10 MBs of data — enough for email, social media, and light surfing, and for the next 600 MBs of data, fliers only have to pay a $1 fee. Gourmet meals are served with free wines, beers, spirits, and other hot and cold beverages, while kids get Fly With Me Animals and Lonely Planet Kids Packs.

6. Thai Airways

Photo Credit: Karl Baron, Flickr
Photo Credit: Karl Baron, Flickr

Since the early days, Thai Airways has set the bar with elegant cabins and gracious hospitality. In fact, their economy seats are amongst the best in the industry starting with some of the most generous legroom. Passengers have access to an extensive media library and in-flight entertainment system with multi-lingual movies, TV programs, news, travel and music, or they can learn the basics of a new language in-flight and even practice meditation with the new AVOD system. In-flight cuisine includes meals inspired by the flavors of Thailand with tropical fruits and fresh produce from local farms and artisanal crops in the northern hill country along with free wines, spirits, juices, and hot and cold beverages. Economy Class toilets are supplied with fragrant toilet water, while eye shades and ear plugs are also available on request.

7. Oman Air

Photo Credit: Aero Icarus
Photo Credit: Aero Icarus

Each of Oman Air’s well-designed economy seats boasts a padded cover, one-piece composite seat back structure, and raisable armrest on the aisle side, not to mention a 34-inch pitch. Economy class passengers also have access to a PC power port and Ethernet plug, though it is shared with the neighbor. Friendly crew members start the dining experience by offering hot and cold towels followed by a choice between international and Arabic dishes, along with free hot and cold beverages. The best part: you can connect to Wi-Fi on smart phones for low rates starting at $5 ($15 for laptops).

8. Qantas

Photo Credit: dingram_kiwi, Flickr
Photo Credit: dingram_kiwi, Flickr

Australia’s flag carrier offers a fun and authentic Aussie travel experience starting with the free bespoke Bickfords welcome drink after take-off, as well as snacks like Maltesers throughout the flight. For International Economy, there’s the new dining experience, which means no more trays and quicker service, with meals being delivered and cleared faster. What’s more, customers in Australia can choose their meal (lamb koftas, honey chicken salad, yellow curry) up to 12 hours prior to departure by using the Qantas app. In-flight entertainment includes 1,500 options on A380 and B747 aircrafts.

9. Etihad

Photo Credit: Mighty Travels, Flickr
Photo Credit: Mighty Travels, Flickr

Etihad provides a solid economy experience, beginning with 100 pounds of free luggage. Once seated, passengers can check out the full-sized fleece blanket and amenity kit, complete with a reversible “Do not disturb/Wake me for meals” eye mask and earplugs. Etihad’s E-BOX entertainment system provides over 750 hours of on-demand programming viewable on screens that are at least 10.6 inches wide, or watch TV on one of several channels, including one devoted to sports. Passengers have three meal options (one vegetarian and one inspired by the flight’s destination) and a great menu of beverages and snacks served from the cafe menu, not to mention free international beers and wines.

10. Air New Zealand

Photo Credit: Air New Zealand
Photo Credit: Air New Zealand

Known for outstanding service, Air New Zealand likes to say that the trip fromLos Angeles to Auckland is more enjoyable than New York City to Los Angeles — and they might be right (even though it’s more than twice as long). All planes include on-demand entertainment and Kiwi-inspired cuisine — fruit salad and scones with jam and cream for an afternoon tea snack, anyone? — accompanied by free New Zealand wines. If flying on a 787 or 777-300, passengers have the ability to order food and drinks directly from the seat and can reserve something called the Economy Skycouch, a set of three seats with leg rests that swing up to create a couch/bed in the sky for families or couples.

15 Airport Hacks From Professional Travelers

Do you want to save money on drinks and baggage fees, skip airport lineups, get good prices on flights, keep the kids amused, and stay safe when arriving in airports at unwieldy hours? Then read on, because I’ve rounded up 10 professional travelers and invited them to share their best airport hacks. (See also: How to Get Through the Airport Faster).

1. Apply for Global Entry

U.S. Citizens can clear customs quickly with Global Entry. (Citizens of Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and other countries havesimilar pre-screening programs that work in tandem with Global Entry). Application involves a rigorous background check and interview, but once you’re a member you can clear customs in a jiffy, and also take advantage of special security lines and procedures.

Lisa Ellen Niver of We Said Go Travel is a global citizen who has traveled to over 100 countries on six continents. After traveling with her parents and experiencing the benefits of Global Entry, she lodged her own application. “After you apply and have your interview, you no longer have to stand in long security lines. You are whisked ahead with no need to remove shoes or take computers out of cases. It makes travel seem almost civilized again!”

2. Bring Your Own Liquor

Are you taking a domestic flight (and/or flying a budget airline) and want to have a drink but don’t want to pay the airline’s prices for liquor? Carry on a mini bottle of your favorite libation and mix it with the free soft drink, says Tamara Elliott, who offers savvy practical travel advice on Globe Guide. “This works well since mix (Coke, juice, etc) is already included on-board — plus, the TSA doesn’t have restrictions about what liquids you can bring, just how big they are.”

3. Hitchhike Into the First Class Lounge

Turner Wright of Once A Traveler, who has lived in Japan, South Korea, Peru, Thailand, and New Zealand, has an unconventional method for accessing first class lounges:

Some first class lounges allow you to bring in a guest for free, so as long as you’re not too smelly and relatively personable, just hang out at the entrance and ask someone if he or she wouldn’t mind signing you in (including a sob story about how you’ve been cooped up for 30 hours and/or missing your family wouldn’t hurt).

4. Pay for the First Class Lounge

If schmoozing into the first class lounge doesn’t work (or isn’t your style), you can often buy a pass. It usually costs $30-$50 and gives you access to all the lounge amenities such as comfortable seating, free food and drinks (including alcohol), Internet, and sometimes even showers and quiet rooms for sleeping. If you have hours to kill before your flight or between flights, this can be money well spent.

5. Wear Your Extra Luggage

Benny Lewis as been on the road for over 11 years and was named National Geographic’s Traveler of the Year in 2013. He travels with everything he owns (including books!), and flies budget airlines with over 80 pounds of gear without paying for it. His secret? He wears his luggagewith the unfashionable but arguably practical Jaktogo. “It’s not a great fashion statement, and uncomfortable to wear while you do it, but that’s only necessary while you [check in and] board the plane (since that’s the only time your number of bags are truly checked). The rest of the time, you can walk around the terminal and even go through security with it in its extra bag folded up mode.” (Benny himself a polyglot who teaches people to become Fluent in 3 Months with a variety of tools including a free crash course.)

6. Fly Red-Eye

Matt Stabile, founder and Editor-in-Chief of says the best way to avoid the hassle of getting through airports is to choose red-eye (overnight) flights, especially if it’s a long flight. “If you book a flight that leaves past, say, 10:00pm, you’ll avoid rush hour traffic on the way to the airport, lines at check-in are going to be minimal, security will take a fraction of what it takes earlier in the day, and once you settle in for the flight, you can simply go to sleep and wake up at your destination.”

7. Get Help Booking Flights

If flying red-eye doesn’t appeal, Benny Lewis also recommends usingFlight Fox to book flights; he says they can often find a convenient travel time for the same cost as a red-eye flight.

8. Ask for Assistance

Airports usually involve lots of walking and standing in line, which not everybody can manage. If you or somebody you’re traveling with has trouble getting around (due to age or injury), don’t let pride get in the way; ask for assistance.

Jeanne Dee of SoulTravelers3 discovered this life-saver while suffering serious medical challenges and traveling with her family. “Airlines can help you with wheelchair assistance, making the whole process doable for someone with health challenges, and they escort the whole family through security and customs and such.” Jeanne and her multi-award-winning digital nomadic family of three have been on the road non-stop for almost nine years, visiting 47 countries on five continents for $23/day per person.

Although wheelchair assistance shouldn’t be taken advantage of, it’s a huge time-saver if you have a tight connection and are unable to move quickly. I discovered this myself after suffering a near-fatal accident and traveling to the States for medical attention. I would never have made the connection in my condition without being skirted through the airport’s “secret passages” and ushered through special lineups. (Bonus: Your travel companions are escorted through with you!)

9. Eat at the Airport

Tiffany and Chris Soukup of have been traveling and working around the world for the last 10 years. They’ve learned through experience that eating a solid meal at the airport can actually be cost-effective, and arriving well-fed helps battle jet lag and even helps you make better (money-saving) decisions. Tiffany uses some hacks to make it cost-effective and fun. “I can’t say the airport is my favorite place to eat, but I look forward to walking around to find where I’ll dine. [Also], look ahead to know what restaurants are at the airport and see if you can get coupons.”

10. Family Travel Hack: Entertain the Kids Without Gadgets

Rachel and Greg Denning of have been traveling since 2007 with their five (now six) children. They know better than any parents how hard it is to keep kids entertained during long hours of waiting in airports, and they say using less technology (tablets, smartphones, etc) creates better travelers.

The mind-numbing, easy entertainment of many [tablet/smartphone] games can lead to boredom, because children get accustomed to being passively entertained, instead of actively entertaining themselves. Reading books, talking, singing, playing games (cards, iSpy, etc.) can hold their attention and lead to bonding and personal interaction, which makes travel more enjoyable for parents and children alike.

She adds, however, that if your kids are already addicted to technology, going cold turkey in an airport isn’t wise; best to start “weaning” them several weeks before traveling. (See also: The Digital Detox – How and Why to Do It).

11. Jump the Line (and Other Perks) With Frequent Flyer Status

“The Guy” dubs his website Flights and Frustration for good reason; he has been traveling internationally with his work nearly every month for over 14 years. He has found a way to use business class and priority lineups even if he’s flying economy. It’s all about achieving elite status with frequent flyer miles. (See also: Everything You Need to Know About Frequent Flyer Miles).

“A prime example is my KLM Flying Blue card. With higher status I can use my economy ticket and still go to the business class check-in queue.” For those with miles but no status, try asking for a points-upgrade. “Inquire at check-in (or even before you go to the airport) to see if you can redeem points to upgrade your ticket to business class. Then it is queue jumping and luxury travel all the way.”

Having status with one airline can give you access to perks on all airlines in the alliance. “I collect frequent flyer points on my Singapore Kris Flyer card for Star Alliance flights. I held a Gold Status with this Kris Flyer card whilst checking in for a domestic flight in the US with United. Due to my frequent flyer status with Star Alliance, they waived the baggage fee.”

12. Go Through Priority Lines Anyway

Turner Wright (of Once A Traveler) doesn’t even bother flashing a frequent flyer mile status card to jump the line. “Depending on the rush, I find it pretty ridiculous to cue up in one security line when there’s an empty one for first class or priority passengers. Usually I just walk up and ask if I can go through, assuming they don’t just wave me in. The same goes for lines at immigration and customs.”

13. Flash Your Travel Rewards Credit Card

Even if you don’t have super-elite frequent flyer mile status, you can flash a travel rewards credit card to gain lounge access. Stephanie Zito has been to over 115 countries living and working on the road for the last 20+ years. In addition to her humanitarian work and Wandering For Good, she’s also the managing editor of the Travel Hacking Cartel and a travel-hacker extraordinaire.

If you live and work on the road and take advantage of lounges for showers, meals, Wi-Fi, and free drinks, it’s worth carrying a card that gets you Priority Pass which allows you to access more than 600 lounges around the world. If you just need a pass or two, many co-branded airline credit cards offer one or two lounge passes a year as a sign-up bonus.

14. Catch a Rest in the Chapel (and a Shower Nearby)

If you’ve got a long layover or delayed flight and need some peace and quiet, look for the airport chapel. It can be a great place to catch a catnap, meditate, or simply enjoy a cell-phone free environment. Stephanie Zito also says it might lead you to a shower in certain parts of the world: “If you’re traveling through the middle east, there is almost always a public shower room somewhere in the airport — you just have to find it. The trick is to locate the prayer area. The showers will always be nearby.”

15. Sleep in the Airport

Wade Shepard has been traveling since 1999 as founding editor ofVagabond Journey, and he has a formula for sleeping in airports. “I usually sleep in the airport when I have an early morning flight leaving between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. or when I land between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. It’s free, relatively secure, and cuts out the hassle of taking [costly] late night transportation and checking in/out of a hotel at an hour when humans are better off tucked away in bed.” He even argues that it’s safer to sleep in the airport than to navigate a foreign city late at night, where you might be more of a target.

He consults to find the best places to sleep, and likes to be out of the way but still around other people (who are preferably sleeping) so there is security in numbers. As for his luggage, he secures it: “I either lock my bag to the chair I’m sleeping in or I tie it my wrist — so if someone was to try to snatch it I’d wake up.”

Wade even does this with his wife and child in tow. “Having three people to fend for makes the money saved even greater! I also found it works better just to let my daughter stay up late, go crazy in the airport, then crash on the plane rather than waking her up in the middle of the night and moving her out [of a hotel].”