Tue. Apr 7th, 2020

21 Airline Employees Share Their Best Tips Airport Life Hacks

We all hate to fly. It’s just one of those things that has to be done!

Going on vacation? Better get on that jet plane. Important business meeting far away? Better get down to that airport!

Ugh, airports. If they’re not the worst places on Earth I don’t know where is.

Hopefully these life hacks will make your next journey a little more bearable! Read on, and maybe you’ll learn something!

Do you think this flight attendant’s life changing tip would really work?

I know a flight attendant and he changed my life with this tip: If you have a flight with the TV screens on the seats you can swipe pretty much any card with a magnetic strip (e.g. AAA card or empty Burger King gift card) and you’ll get to watch free movies and TV for your entire flight.

A lost and found hack that really works!

If you lost your phone charger, just go to the Lost & Found. They’ve got hundreds of them. It helps to say something like “it’s a bit frayed near the top” or something to add believability. This also works at some hotels.

Save money on expensive water

Bring an empty water bottle (nalgene type or simple plastic) into the airport. Fill it up at a water fountain once you are past security. Now you don’t have to pay $3.00 for water.

Don’t pay for those luggage carts!

Avoid paying $4 for a luggage cart in baggage claim by going outside to the pickup area. There are usually a few outside at the curb that people abandon when they get picked up.

A vital car rental tip!

If you’re flying into a smaller regional airport later in the evening and renting a car, put your flight number somewhere in the car rental reservation.

Most of these smaller airports close after the last flight lands. And some rental agencies don’t require their employees to stay for late flights if they don’t have someone on the flight.

This is a great tip!

Don’t take the last connecting flight of the night. Weather delays are cumulative over the day and are worst in the afternoon and evening, and before you can say “missed connection” you’ll be at the beautiful “Airporter Inn” on your own nickel since airlines won’t cover your hotel due to a weather delay.

Breeze through security

When going through security put your personal belongings in your carryon/personal item (Watch, keys, cell phone, loose change). This not only keeps them out of view of other passengers, but speeds up the process of digging through your pockets trying to get everything into the bin.

This overpacking trick is gold!

If you overpacked, or bought a bunch of things on vacation, go to any Hudson News Group airport gift shop, and ask any one of the friendly, knowledgeable staff to give you a big shopping bag. You can put all your crap in there, and the airline can’t tell you it’s an additional carry on, because it’ll look like you bought it from the handsome, charming young man at the Hudson News Group airport gift shop.

Find cheaper airfares

Sometimes you can find cheaper airfare if you book a flight with layovers and simply get off at the layover point. For example, it may be cheaper to book a flight to fargo with a layover in Minneapolis than to book a direct flight to Minneapolis. Airlines are looking to fill the flights to fargo so they’ll make the fares lower. If you’re going to Minneapolis, just get off the plane. Done.

Avoid this embarrassing situation!

I work as a Ramp Agent/Baggage Handler in the UK, ladies (or men, who am I to judge?). For the love of all that is holy take the batteries OUT of your vibrator before putting it in your luggage. If we find a vibrating bag we have to report it to our supervisor as it means the bag at the very least has batteries inside, a lot of which are classed as dangerous goods and aren’t allowed in an aircraft hold.

More importantly if its vibrating we will get the bag identified and the vibrating stopped. Which means you’ll be called outside of the aircraft to come to the bottom of the steps, identify your bag, open it, take out the vibraror and switch it off. With all of the team of (mostly) men watching, as well as the rest of the passengers.

Airport friend time!

Bring a three plug extension for when you’re sitting at the gate and want to use a power outlet. Even if you’re the only one using it, you’ll make new friends.

Minimise tags on your luggage

The less stuff hanging off of your baggage the better, straps and name tags get caught on conveyer belts which can cause jams which in turn ends up with your bag being crushed by any bags behind yours. Also broken stuff in your bags are not always our fault. Belt systems have drops, slides and chutes that can potentially cause damage to your breakables.

Pack your carry-on correctly

Always pack three or four days worth of underwear and anything else you really have to have in your carry on bag.

Checked in baggage can get lost or stuck in the system for days, your carry on baggage stays with you unless something really serious happens.

A secret hack to avoid baggage fees

If you are carrying medical equipment you don’t have to pay baggage fees. I once had my wallet stolen the night before a flight and the GGG at the check in counter said “you’re carrying medical equipment in your bags… Correct?” And I went along with it and he put it right through.

Check flight prices sneakily

If you’re checking prices for flights do so using incognito mode. Or wait and use it when you decide to purchase tickets. Websites track what flights you’re looking at and will up the ticket prices accordingly.

Pay attention to gate announcements

Please pay attention to the announcements that the gate attendants are making. They usually make an announcement because a majority of the people around the gate need to hear what they are saying. This saves them the time and energy of answering the same question over and over again, and you might get your question answered.

And treat them with respect. They know what their airline will allow as far as transfers, etc. Don’t berate them for telling you that a flight is full.

Business or economy class?

I worked as a summer passenger service agent for Lufthansa and my jobs included checking in passengers at the front desk, taking boarding cards at the gate and making announcements at the intercom. A secret that I learned is that there is only a perceived difference about the first class, business class or economy check in to passengers. We are literally so busy during a 400 person flight check in that we will not deny you if you are an economy passenger waiting in the first class line, we just want to get everyone cycled through the queue. I would check in economy passengers in higher classes occasionally and not even bat an eye. Such an interesting place to work, so fast paced and so many crazy people and things to happen.

Nervous flier?

If you have time between connections and need a place to be calm and peaceful, most airports have a chapel. They are usually not very well marked so you are probably going to need to ask.

That being shared, do not ruin it by talking on your cellphone or listening to music without headphones. Most of the people in there are anxious fliers or people heading to or from a funeral.

These are free spaces taking up could-be-profitable square footage. People being jerks will just get the chapels converted to kiosks eventually. So please don’t screw this up by telling the loud-talkers in your family.

More lost and found hacks!

Police officer at an international airport here.

If you lose something, make sure you check ALL the lost and founds. At my airport the police have their own that they maintain, but each air carrier and the TSA also do. Just because we don’t have it doesn’t mean it won’t be at the others.

Invest in sturdy luggage

Make sure your bag can take a 6ft fall onto pavement without breaking anything… and invest in REAL luggage, I have seen $3,000 laptops fly out of $10 bargain bin junk luggage when the zippers/seams failed several times. I don’t even feel bad if it gets broken in that case, if you do nothing but tuck in your brand new Mac Book in an outside pocket with a broken zipper.. you kinda deserve it.

Guitar’s must be in rigid cases, I have always been careful but there really is only so much you can do… passengers complaining about waiting when you are folded inside a baggage compartment trying to get 100 bags safely packed.

If you don’t have much money, just buy an army surplus bag with a rigid frame.. mine has never failed me, and I have safely transported booze dozens of times that was only wrapped in a sweater.

Bring something for the flight crew!

If you bring some sort of shareable consumable for the flight crew to share it will go a long way. My go to is hasboro airplane gummies! Even if they don’t give you an upgrade to an exit row or give you back consumables from the cart you might just make their work day just a little better.

Finally, listen to this flight attendant!

I am a flight attendant. Here are my tips:

Want an upgrade? Ask the gate agents, not the flight attendants. Gate agents have a computer where they can move you around, FA usually can’t even if they have extra seats. Dress nice: no flip flops, sweatpants etc. They will not upgrade you if you look sloppy.

Seriously bring us food! Candy or whatever. Share it. We will try to give you something in return if the “in charge” flight attendant doesn’t seem too uptight. We are so sick of eating the plane food like you have no idea.

If you ever see a yellow flickering light on a pole on the tarmac before you board: storm warning. You’re gonna be delayed because ground crew is not allowed to be out there.

If you are stressed or scared tell the FAs. If you don’t we will just think you are rude and weird and avoid you as much as possible.

A funny one I learnt from a really senior flight attendant: LOCK the bathroom door. Make sure you lock it. double check before you do your business. In the old days that was an “invitation”… yep.