12+ Pro Tips for Headache-Free Airline Travel


Written by:

With long lines, inevitable flight delays, and plane seats that seem to be getting closer and closer together, you need a vacation after all the stress you experience in the sky!

While we can’t change any of those negative aspects of flying, we can at least offer a few tips to make your travels a little easier.

Image Credit: Geetarism/istockphoto.

Tip 1: Pick Your Seat

When booking your flight, choose your seat carefully. If you’re the kind of person who needs to get up to go to the bathroom frequently, you might opt for an aisle seat rather than nudging your sleeping seatmate every hour to let you up.

And here’s a trick, though it doesn’t always work, now that flights are being overbooked. If you’re traveling with two people, consider booking the aisle and the window seat on a row of three seats. Few people want to book that middle seat, so you might end up with a free seat between you to stretch out in. Worst case, if someone does have that middle seat, you can ask them to switch. Who wouldn’t mind giving up the worst seat so the two of you can sit together?

Image Credit: Delta Air Lines.

Tip 2: Join the Loyalty Program

Even if you don’t think you’ll fly a particular airline much, there can be perks to joining its loyalty program. Some offer signup bonuses or free wifi. And if you do fly a decent amount, consider opening a credit card branded by the airlines. Again: signup bonuses. And when you make purchases with the card, you’ll get points you can redeem for travel.

Image Credit: Southwest Airlines.

Tip 3: Download the Airline App

These days, every airline has its own mobile app that lets you access your digital boarding pass, check flight status, and get notifications of gate changes. Sometimes the notifications hit the app before they hit the announcement board at the airport, so you can stay on top of things.

Image Credit: Hawaiian Airlines.

Tip 4: Dress Comfortably

You might have the image of Audrey Hepburn or Gregory Peck for the vibe you want to portray while flying, but you’ll be more comfortable in clothes that move easily and don’t restrict you. And really, no one cares what you wear on a plane! Bring a scarf to cover up with if that frigid air freezes you out.

Image Credit: Daniela Vazquez/istockphoto.

Tip 5: Travel With Only a Carry-on

I realize this isn’t possible for everyone and every trip, but when possible, pack light. First, you won’t have to pay for checking a bag. And also, you won’t risk your bag getting lost, which seems to be happening more these days.

Image Credit: claudiodivizia/istockphoto.

Tip 6: Pack a Change of Clothes in Your Carry-on

If you do check a bag, make sure to keep one change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on so that if your bag gets lost, you can still function for a few days without buying new clothes.

Image Credit: JLco – Julia Amaral/istockphoto.

Tip 7: Be Ready for TSA

You can always tell who the seasoned travelers are in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line. They whip out their clear bag of size-appropriate liquids, zip off their belts, and slide off their shoes if required.

You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to speed up your time in the security line. Make sure your liquids are 3.4 ounces or less. Put them all in a clear bag, and make that bag easily accessible when you’re scrambling through security. Wear shoes that are easy to slide off. Remember all the things people tend to forget: take off your belt. Remove everything from your pockets. Put your technology in a separate bin. Easy breezy.

Image Credit: davidtran07/depositphotos.

Tip 8: Bring a Water Bottle

You know you can’t bring water through security, but did you know that many airports have water-filling stations? That means you can bring an empty metal insulated water bottle and then fill it up after you’ve passed through security. Rather than pay the outrageous price for a bottle of water at a kiosk, you get free water and are kinder to the environment.

Image Credit: HuyNguyenSG/istockphoto.

Tip 9: Fill Your Tummy

You already know that airline food sucks, and these days, nothing comes for free. You can opt to eat before you leave home or grab something at the airport. If you have a layover at mealtime, scope out the nearby restaurants and enjoy a leisurely meal, time permitting. These days, airport food is elevated, with celebrity chefs and well-known food chains offering a plethora of choices. Just consider what you order: maybe fried food isn’t the best choice if you get queasy on flights!

Image Credit: kuremo/istockphoto.

Tip 10: Get Access to a Lounge

If you have a long layover, particularly for an international flight, consider spending the time in an airport lounge rather than sitting in a crowded waiting area at your gate. Many credit cards offer membership to a network of lounges, but even if you’re not a member, you can pay for a day pass. Entry will get you access to free food and drink (and yes, alcohol is included), space to sit or lounge, and possibly even spa services or a shower.

Image Credit: Scottie K./Yelp.

Tip 11: Pack an Under-the-Seat Bag

To keep yourself occupied for hours during the flight, pack a book, tablet, or crossword puzzle. Keep these items, as well as your water bottle, lip balm, lotion, and anything else you might need during the flight, in a bag that fits under the seat in front of you. That way, you don’t have to disturb your neighbors by opening the overhead bin to dig for these items.

Image Credit: Yury Karamanenko/istockphoto.

Tip 12: Don’t Overdo the Alcohol

While there’s something indulgent about having a glass of wine or a G&T in the sky, watch how much you consume. You tend to get dehydrated on a flight, and drinking can accelerate that dehydration and make you feel tipsy faster than normal. You want to arrive at your destination fresh-eyed and ready for what comes ahead.

And there you have it! A few tips to make your travel experience at least slightly less stressful. As a parting gift, here are a few bonus tips:

  • Get to the airport well in advance of your departure
  • Check luggage requirements, both for checked baggage and carry-ons
  • Keep your ID and boarding pass easily accessible
  • Keep a positive attitude!

This story was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

Image Credit: Chalabala/istockphoto.

More From MediaFeed

10 Tips for Traveling With Family on a Budget

Like MediaFeed’s content? Be sure to follow us.

Image Credit: Ceri Breeze/istockphoto.