Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Flying’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
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
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
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’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
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. 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
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.