Flying is the biggest drag in the history of drags.
That being said, there are plenty of airport hacks that can help you trudge through the misery that is flying with some semblance of efficiency (and sanity, if you’re lucky). If you’ve been keeping up with national news, you probably already know that travelers are in for more than a few headaches this summer as pressure on TSA agents mounts and security threats rise.
That’s why being clever about going through security and getting to the gate makes life so much easier for agents and travelers alike.
1. Look for anyone in business attire.
These folks know how it’s done. Ladies and gents who fly for work regularly will be in line at security with their belts off and all of their electronics in separate bins, which is apparently too much to ask of most travelers.
2. Turn left.
Most people are right handed. Right-handed people turn right. Go to the leftmost security line for shorter wait times. Don’t let human psychology play you.
3. Get your workout on and take the stairs.
You can’t count on much in life. What you can always rely on, however, is human laziness. After going through security and immigration, hoist up your suitcase and climb the stairs. You’ll get a workout, and you’ll avoid having to stand way too close to angry people who hate all of this as much as you do.
4. Not flying business class? Who cares? Try getting in their line anyway.
Agents working in security queues for business flyers will often take pity on the rest of us when lines start looking crazy.
5. Consider applying for the TSA PreCheck program.
For $85, you can get a criminal background check that’s good for five years. If you’re declared a low-risk flyer, you can bypass insane lines and get through security fairly quickly.
Okay, so you’ve made it to your gate. Here are a few tips that’ll help you get on the plane quickly and avoid making all your efforts go to waste.
6. Use headphones for noise cancellation.
As tempting as it is to drown the piercing cries of children in a sea of Lady Gaga, use headphones for noise cancellation and not for listening to your jam. Music and earplugs are a little too intense and can easily prevent you from hearing that you’re supposed to be boarding. This is a happy medium.
7. Download digital boarding passes ahead of time.
Don’t be like me. Don’t get to Germany with a 20-minute layover and forget to download your boarding pass so you can still get on your plane without wifi’s help, because there won’t be any. Don’t miss your flight. Download that nonsense ahead of time so you don’t have to cry to three very large, uniform-clad men who sincerely don’t care about your problems.
8. Bring empty water bottles and fill them when you get past security.
A really easy way to spend your entire life savings is to buy one bottle of water at the airport, so skip all that, bring an empty bottle, and fill it up yourself. You don’t need Evian, okay?
9. Throw a power splitter in your bag.
If you ask any given person in an airport terminal what their favorite pastime is, they’ll probably tell you that it’s hogging outlets. Travelers are notoriously horrible when it comes to sharing the phone-charging wealth, so bring a power splitter that’ll help you and your friend (or that cute stranger) share one plug.
10. Wait to board and snag a free upgrade.
What’s the rush? Waiting to board can have its perks. For one, you won’t be shoved by the rest of the line while you put your luggage in the overhead compartment. You can sometimes even get a free seat upgrade if business or first-class seats don’t fill up.
Sure, these tips won’t take away all the anxiety that comes along with flying, but anything that makes it easier is always worth looking into. If you’re braving the airport this summer, best of luck and safe travels!