Nobody likes airports. Flying is pretty boring as well, but I don't want to whine about something so convenient. Also, nobody likes waiting. Therefore, nobody should like waiting at the airports!
If you want to spend the smallest possible amount of time waiting next time you're supposed to fly somewhere, this is the right place for you.
This is my collection of airport hacks that shorten the time from your arrival at an airport to reaching your gate.
If you fly low cost airlines and/or from small or medium size airports, this article is for you. If not, you can still read it – I do have a lot of helpful tips o give you but they probably won't work as good. Still, they are ways to get through different airport control points with as little hassle as possible, and you know you need something like that.
1. Get to know your airport
If you know you'll be traveling from the same airport more than once, pay attention to everything: how crowded is it, how many flights by the same carrier are there an hour before yours and an hour afterwards, how late is the personnel at the gate, how many people are working at the security desks...
This can save you precious time. Why would you go the airport more than two hours before your flight if you're absolutely sure you're able to show up an hour before your flight without missing it?
2. Travel with a cabin bag only
Yes, I mean it. Why do you even need the big-ass checked-in baggage? I'm able to pack enough stuff for a month abroad into a size S trolley bag, and I don't even know how to pack!
Small bag means you need to prioritize. That also means you don't have to wait for your suitcase when you arrive to your destination (it's always with you), but more so, that enables you to completely skip the first queue at any airport!
3. Don't play with liquids in your hand luggage
Having more liquids in your cabin bag than allowed is one of the most common reasons to spend more time at the security control than you have originally planned. Liquids must be i ncontainers of no more than 100 ml. Containers should be carried transparent, re-sealable plastic bags of up to 20 cm x 20 cm with a total capacity of up to 1 l.
Although you can get the plastic bags for free at any airport, it saves time if you buy them in a drugstore back home and put your deodorants, hand cremes and eye drops inside them when you originally pack those items.
4. Do your homework
If there's any paperwork that you can deal with in advance, don't hesitate!
When I leave Serbia I need to present all the electronic devices I'm carrying to a customs officer. I also need to fill a form with the data (maker, model, serial number) about each device – photography equipment, laptop, etc. I usually do that in advance – either by downloading the form from the internet or picking up more of them at the airport when leaving the country and conveniently stashing them in my suitcase.
By not filling out the serial numbers right before the plane I save up to a half an hour!
5. Wear sneakers
Sneakers are less likely to have metal parts. Not having to take your shoes off for security control saves time. Besides, they're more comfortable and at some point you're bound to wait, or stand, or to be in a overheated room, or all of that at a same time.
6. Buy a cheap knockoff belt (seriously!)
If you need to wear a belt, buy a belt with a plastic buckle! That way you don't have to worry about your belt while walking through a metal detector.
You also don't need to take your belt off and that saves you time and embarrassment – one time I needed to take off my belt at the security control and my pants fell down completely.
7. Wear anything with big pockets (that's easy to take off)
A jacket, a large shirt, a waistpack... Ok, forget about the waistpack, nothing screams DORKY TOURIST more than that. A light jacket usually does the trick, plus it comes in handy in case of rain during your trip (even if you travel in the summer).
The hack is simple: as you're approaching a security control point, stash everything that can trigger the beeping of a metal detector into pockets of your jacket (or shirt). Than just take it off and put it in the tray!
Check the pockets of your pants for: keys, spare change, wallet, phone – and don't forget about your watch or jewelry!
8. Think about a bag within a bag
If you're traveling with a checked-in baggage you won't necessarily need it. But if you're traveling with hand luggage only, this could save you precious time.
At security control you're usually asked to take all the electronic devices out of your bag and put them on a separate tray. If you're traveling with just a kindle or a phone you don't have a problem. But my large cabin bag usually contains a camera with two lenses, a laptop, a power bank, a kindle, a spare phone and all the cords and adapters you can think of. Carrying a messenger bag, containing only my precious devices, within the main one – really speeds me up.
If you pack your electronics in the suitcase, chances are you would have to hunt them through clothes and you'd probably miss something. Putting all your devices in a separate bag and packing it at the top of your suitcase can speed things up significantly.
That way you can also move more quickly towards your gate after security control – just gather your devices in their dedicated bag, and you'll put it back in the suitcase sometime before the boarding starts.
Not to mention how handy it is to have an extra bag with you during your stay in a foreign country!
9. Buy your gifts at a duty-free shop
This sounds lame, but hear me out! That way you get them either in a sealed bag or after you've gone through security control (or both). That means more space, no hassle with the amount of liquids, and less suspicious luggage in general!
You can also avoid unnecessary stress when packing – duty-free bags can usually be carried into planes as extra pieces of luggage for no extra charge, and that means more space in your suitcase for the stuff you actually need!
And there you have it! By applying these 9 airport hacks, you'll probably cut down your time at the airport from three hours to mere 30 minutes. Some people will call you irresponsible, but I'll call you "friend". By spending less time at airports you'll become ten years younger, more satisfied with your life and less bothered with your cheating spouse/cat/goldfish. No need to thank me!
Do you have similar airport hacks you'd like to share? Tell me in the comments!