6 Sites to Make Flying a Whole Lot Easier
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airportsleepFlying’s no one’s favorite thing. Unless you’re a pilot. But for most of us, flying’s little more than a hassle. Most of the annoyance of flying is due to the airport – checking in, security, terrible food, no outlets, and the like.

Time spent getting a ticket and waiting for your flight (which is often many, many hours) can be miserable, but it doesn’t have to be. Using these five tools, you’ll be able to make your time in the airport a little more bearable, and maybe even a little shorter.

A disclaimer: as I’m in the US, I can’t vouch for all of these tips working anywhere else. Most of them should, but some sites and policies are different outside the US.

1. Book It

book cheap flights

Instead of using the airline sites, try using [NO LONGER WORKS] Tripeedo. Tripeedo’s an easy way to search most of the major airlines for tickets, as well as some of the best bargain sites like Kayak, Travelocity, and Orbitz.

Finding a flight’s as easy as typing where you’re coming from and going to, and Tripeedo does all the searching for you. You won’t buy your ticket from Tripeedo, but it’ll put you on the page you want to see – unlike most airline sites.

2. Check Your Flight

check flight delays

If your flight’s going to be delayed, it’s often going to happen well before you even get to the airport. Luckily, there are several ways to check your flight status before you even leave.

You can check your airline’s website, but the status page is usually hard to find. Instead, try Googling your airline and flight number, like “Delta flight 365” for a quick status check at the top of your search results.

If you want to know much more about your flight, try FlightAware. You’ll get a map of the flight’s path, with how far away it is, how fast it’s going, and a whole bunch of other useless but fun information.

3. Check In Faster

tips for fast airport check-in

Most airlines these days allow for online check-in. That means you avoid the long lines, the obnoxious people, and the terror of almost missing your flight when the attendant is inhumanly slow.

Go online, check in and print your boarding pass, and head straight to the gate. In just a few minutes of research, I found that American Airlines, United, Continental, Delta, Alaska Air, Frontier Air, Southwest and Spirit Airlines all offer online check in – and that’s just the first page of Google! To find your airline’s site, Google “online check in” plus your airline, and you’ll be good to go.

4. Fly Through Security

airport security tips

Airport security’s a pain, but there’s just no way around it. You can, however, make the process go a whole lot faster by following some critical steps. Wired Magazine created a how-to Wiki called “Fly Through Airport Security.”

Among the useful tips are things like checking the TSA website to find out the average wait times, and only using two bins for your stuff. Got a great tip? You can add it to the Wiki right on the Wired site.

5. Find An Outlet

airport power outlets

Outlets are a precious commodity in the airport. Though I recommend to always bring a power strip, or at least a power splitter, to the airport when you travel, I nearly always forget to do so.

Thanks to my failure of a memory, I rely on the Air Power Wiki. The Wiki is a guide to airports all over the world, letting you know where to look for a free outlet. It’s often updated, and you can even update it yourself- either way, it’s a killer way to find a power source anywhere. Best of all, the outlets are often in places I wouldn’t think to look otherwise, like this one in Dublin: “At the Gate Clock bar: turn left in the main bar door, look for tables on the left: the table just past the elevator has a pair of sockets near it on the bar side.”

6. Find Wi-Fi

airport wifi

You’re through security, ready to get on your flight – and your flight gets delayed for 8 hours. Problem? Not if you know where to look! Free or cheap Wi-Fi is out there, just waiting to be found.

Before you leave for the airport, check a couple of these sites to find out your Internet situation. First, try the list of “Free wifi airports” compiled by SmallBusiness that tells you which airports, and where in those airports, you’ll find free Wi-Fi. If you can’t find free, find cheap. TravelPost has a guide to 219 US airports with Wireless locations, types and prices for each one. For the most complete list, though without prices, try weather.com’s “Airports with Wi-Fi” list. You’ll be able to see just about every location in every American airport that will offer you Wi-Fi, free or otherwise.

Armed with a boarding pass, the right amount of time, the right security tips, Wi-Fi and a power source, the airport won’t seem like such a hassle anymore. Flight’s delayed for 3 days? Who cares, you’ve got Wi-Fi! Just don’t steal my outlet.

Photos: Travelin’ Librarian, alist, catcubed, futureshape

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  1. Richard
    October 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Great list of sites, the only thing you left out was a site to find some good durable luggageonline.com.

  2. futureboy
    January 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Also note, some carriers (American Airlines, Air Canada and I'm sure many others) are beginning to roll out electronic boarding passes. They will send your boarding pass to your mobile device. Check your air carrier's site for details. American, as of this moment, currently only offers this service when departing from ORD, LAX and SNA. Keep checking though, I imagine this will become as common as online check-in.

    • David Pierce
      January 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm

      Great point. Being able to get on the plane just with my phone is a huge plus. And, it's green. Awesome! Thanks.

  3. Debbie
    January 23, 2009 at 7:05 am

    I'm surprised he didn't include seatguru.com - I realized BEFORE flying that I had chosen a seat that could not recline, and chose another one. Much more comfortable!

  4. Andrew
    January 22, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    hey david, thanks for your great write-up of tripeedo. we're going to be launching a big update soon, to make finding airfares even faster and easier. so definitely keep an eye on tripeedo.com in the weeks ahead.

    also thanks for these other great tips, especially the air power wiki. will definitely use it the next time i fly!

    • David Pierce
      January 23, 2009 at 3:29 am

      Thanks for the heads up! I'm glad you liked the post. I'm exicted for new things from Tripeedo- faster and easier's always going to make me a fan.

  5. Simon Slangen
    January 22, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Any idea how to board a flight with a motorcycle? :-p

    • David Pierce
      January 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm

      Watch the Die Hard movies. He probably does that. You could just jump the bike on top of the plane or something- would probably work. :)

  6. Charax
    January 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I long ago learnt to start fishing stuff out of your pockets *when you get in line* for airport security, although last time I flew the only problem was that I don't speak Italian - I was born there so I have an Italian passport. you would not believe the suspicious looks you get when you can't speak the language on your passport...

    • David Pierce
      January 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm

      I can imagine. I tend to fly with a lot of random stuff in my pockets, hands, jacket, etc.- getting that all out ASAP is a good point. People would probably give me fewer nasty looks.

  7. Nick
    January 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I really like #6 and #7 I like number six cause it has a USB port on a public outlet in the air, it just looks neat!

    On number 7 I really like the Wifi sign, I gotta get one of those :P

    Anyways, this post has some great links and stuff to help you get through flying and make it easy instead of pulling air.

    Great post.