Tips from an airline insider: six things to do before you leave so you can breeze through the airport like a rockstar

by Kristen Crocker

In my two years as an airline employee, I’d seen it all. From the luggage marked “fragile” because it contained only wine, to the person running through security without stopping to try to make a flight. Garbage bag luggage? Seen it. Boots stuffed in a coat pocket instead of a suitcase to avoid an overage fee? Yup. And trust me, folks. You don’t want to be that person. Here are some do’s (and one big don’t) to make your life easier when traveling. 

DO... 

  1. Pack light. Everyone gives this advice, but it bears repeating because it is so good. If there is a flight mishap, and you need to be rerouted, the person with the carry on is less likely to have a headache later on because, well, they have their aspirin with them. If you pack heavy and check a bag, you may end up sleeping in the clothes you wore to the airport a million hours ago. Packing light = having your stuff when needed. 

  2. Another thing about packing-put an index card in your bag with your name, cell phone number, email address, and your home airport. When unidentified luggage comes through an airport for whatever reason, employees may need to go through the bag (witnessed, of course) to find identification. Place the card on top so they don’t need to touch your unmentionables. Please and thank you. 

  3. Arrive early. Earlier than you think you need to be there. Then subtract 15 more minutes. If you have to be there at a certain time traffic will certainly be backed up, the line will be twice as long, and your ID will be left on the table by the door. No one wants to sweat their way through the chaos that already is airport life. Give yourself some breathing room. 

  4. Once you get out of your car, put your keys in a safe spot in your carry on luggage, NOT the bag you will check in, and say out loud, “I’m am putting my keys here, I will not touch them, and I WILL know where they are when I land.” 

  5. Pack a snack. Nothing hurts like the hurt after eating a crappy turkey sandwich from the airline that you had to take out a small loan to pay for. Try explaining that one to your kid when they ask why you can’t foot the bill for college (“Remember that flight to Orlando when you were 8? Funny thing-we were hungry...”). 

  6. Expect delays, missed connections, and long lines. Always bring a magazine, earbuds, and some sort of electronic device. And always, always, download the movie the night before. 

DON’T...
Under any circumstances, no matter what, even if they started it, be a jerk to the person
trying to fix your ticket. They get paid close to nothing-certainly not enough to be cursed at because you are having a bad day. They are human, too. And the only thing between you and your final destination. Be nice and they will go the extra mile for you, I swear. 

That’s it. Follow this advice and you just might be that person that glides through the airport, makeup in place, perfectly coifed bun, healthy salad in hand. You won’t hate her type as much if that type is also you. Bon voyage!