Airport Hacks I Have Known and Loved

Optimizing the air travel experience for passengers.

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Business professionals end up flying more than expected

Air travel ends up being a big part of the day to day experience of busy professionals.

As I’ve posted specifically about the future of air travel before, at espressoinsight.com, I generally attempt to cover the future of business and emerging technology. To minimize travel stress and maximize comfort, it is important to know how to optimize your experience as a passenger.

Moving to Oahu, Hawaii meant flights between the island and mainland became a regularity.

As taxing on my personal budget as this has been, taking a minimum of a 5+ hour flight everytime I want to go anywhere off-island meant that I quickly adapted to quick a few tricks of the trade of air travel.

I hope these are helpful – not necessarily to hack the system, but simply to make the flying experience more enjoyable.

Airport Hack #1: Boarding time

Oftentimes, when the planes are not at full capacity, you will be able to have your choice of seating if you are last to board the plane. Flying during pandemic times with a large percentage of empty flights is just glorious.

The best seats in first class and even the ones that aren’t quite first class but are still premium seats are often open.

As a bonus, you can opt to find a seat by the window or aisle to your choosing, and may even be lucky enough to get a whole row to yourself as I have a few times.

(add photo).

Boarding late on my flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, more than half of first class was completely open, as well as many seats in the premium / upgraded section, where I was able to find an entire free row.

Words of advice: Even if first class is open (the ones with the lounge chairs and private rooms / pods etc), avoid sitting in first class, though, because the flight attendants will often keep a seating chart to greet first class by name, which would be a dead giveaway for you, in which case you may be asked to move.

Airport Hack #2: Optimizing carry-on luggage

Depending on your ticket, you might not be allowed more than one personal item, meaning no bringing an extra carry on. If this is the case, there is a way to sneak an extra bag on if you absolutely need to.

On personal items and carry ons: Not all of us are minimalists, sometimes we have a lot of stuff to bring with us.

Let’s be honest – bringing extra stuff on the plane isn’t going to hurt anyone. There’s always plenty of room – and even if there weren’t, the gate attendants will start offering people a “free checked bag” directly at the gate, so there’s always a solution.

The bag rules are the airlines’ way of encouraging customers to upgrade their tickets and spend more money.

Heck, I’ve brought my guitar on the plane and stuck it in an overhead bin with absolutely no issues whatsoever. When carrying on such a large item, keep an eye out for bin space anywhere on the plane. You don’t necessarily have to use the bins directly above your seat, just find a spot that will fit your instrument and remember where you put it!

However, to ensure the overhead bin space isn’t full, consider trying to get in line to boared sooner rather than later (yes, this optimizing for Airport Hack #2 goes is the opposite strategy of Airport Hack #1).

Here’s what you do: opt for a small-ish duffel bag and a backpack, and don’t jam-pack them too full. When you walk to the gate and scan your ticket, arrange your backpack so that it is on top of your duffel with the straps of the straps of the duffel wrapped around the backpack.

(show photo here).

Voila, you have technically “consolidated” your two bags into one, and may carry on in peace! To avoid any hassles from the gatekeepers, walk up to the gate attendant with the bags in your left hand, low and at your side, with a big smile and friendly greeting, and scan your ticket / ID with your left hand exclusively.

Airport Hack #3: Masks

Mask hacks: Masks are important an a necessity on all airlines currently, however, often, masks can become uncomfortable when worn for 5+ hours on a flight because they pull on your ears.

An easy fix for this is to bend the metal nose bridge so it squeezes and affixes the mask to your face, allowing the mask to remain in place without the need of the ear-loops. Unhooking your ear loops and balancing the gently pinched mask onto your nose, I have even used a small piece of tape to keep it in place. You be the judge on what’s most comfortable, but I’ve found that it can be nice to give my ears a break from being pulled forward.

Additional options are to find a mask that has looser ear loops so that it is less tight on your face.

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