Did You Know | Life Hacks

7 Sneaky Airport Hacks That Make Traveling Way Easier

It's safe to say that air travel has always been a little stressful, but it's definitely not getting any better.

The days of flying the friendly skies are long over, and those TSA lines seem to get longer every year.

If you want to save time and money before your next vacation, we have tips from seasoned travelers who know their stuff.

1. Get free TSA Precheck

Quinn Dombrowski - Flickr

I know what you're thinking. Those short TSA Precheck lines always look tempting - especially when you can spend upwards of two hours waiting to take your shoes off - but using them comes at a price.

Signing up for Precheck can cost up to $100, and it doesn't even work at every airport.

But you can use the Precheck line for free if you know how:

Take time to scope out the security lines when you arrive. Ideally, a line with two people doing checks or a short line at the end of the terminal is your best choice.

But since the Precheck line goes so fast, they often take passengers from the next line over. "Hugging" the long line next to a short Precheck line often gets you VIP service at no extra cost.

2. Keep your electronics in one pocket

Uwe Aranas - CE Photo - Wikimedia

Crunch the numbers on the average TSA luggage check and you'll find something surprising.

Most of the wasted time comes when passengers have to dig through their suitcase for an item that made the scanner buzz.

Pack smart: keep all your electronics and metal items in one pocket. And put all your liquids in one travel case near the top of the bag.

That way, if you need to open your bag you won't have to reorganize your entire suitcase.

3. Mark your bag as fragile

Yutaka Tsutano - Flickr

This is a tried and true technique for frequent flyers. You can get a free bright red Fragile sticker for your suitcase from airport staff.

Travelers who slap it on frequently say the sticker guarantees your bag will be the first on and first off the plane.

If you don't like being dishonest, you can wait until the last minute to check in your bag.

The bags on the last carousel come off the plane first, but you'll risk missing your flight by being caught in a long security line.

Whatever you do, leave your address off your luggage. Canny burglars are known to spot empty houses this way.

4. Never exchange currency


You'll get a fair deal exchanging U.S. dollars for foreign cash outside the airport.

But businesses inside the terminals are known for gouging travelers.

If you forgot to pick up spending money for your trip, wait until you arrive at your destination.

A four-digit-PIN debit card will work at almost any ATM, and most banks don't charge fees for overseas withdrawals.

5. Don't use the airport Wi-Fi

Sam Churchill - Flickr

Speaking of gouging, airports have figured out that bored vacationers waiting for their flight will pay through the nose for Wi-Fi in the terminal.

In most cases, it's actually cheaper to use your cell phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and pay the data charges when you get back home.

In fact, it pays to keep your wallet in your pocket the entire time you're in the airport.

Everything from food and drinks to books, magazines, and headphones have their priced jacked up at airport stores.

And crunching the numbers reveals duty free shops only offer a good deal on one thing: cigarettes.

6. Make the most of your air miles


Thrifty vacationers wait until double air miles events to book their trips, but sometimes you need a vacation now.

You'll always get the most points per dollar by booking with an airline-specific credit card.

If you don't have one, that's not a bad thing. The biggest point bonuses are offered when you sign up for a new card, so grabbing one just to book a trip can pay off.

Just resist the urge to cash in on anything but a flight. Air miles are always the best deal for actual air miles, never for cash back or special discounts.

7. Know the smart time to book a flight

Mikano - Wikimedia

A small adjustment to your travel itinerary can save you hundreds of dollars and hours of waiting in line.

The cheapest day of the week to book a flight is Tuesday. It also happens to be the day the airport is the least crowded.

You can also avoid lines most weekdays, especially if you plan to fly out at lunchtime or during the early afternoon.

Like these tips? We have even more thrifty and helpful travel advice.

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com