It is a stay at home holiday for some people today. But a travel day for millions. At that means some people will end up stuck at the airport.
It can happen anytime, of course. But as the busy summer travel season kicks into gear, I’ve been asked to work up some airport travel tips for the Weather Chanel audience.
Here are my notes for my appearance, currently scheduled for early Tuesday. Please feel free to add your notes too.
Practice. Seems silly, but often in the rush to get to the airport we forget that we’ll have to partially unpack at the security checkpoint.
Make sure you’re wearing socks without holes, shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. And have your potions and lotions and electronic gear easiy accessible in your carry-on bag.
Leave your guns at home.
TSA finds about 100 guns – most loaded – at checkpoints each week. I’ve given up wondering why people need so many guns. But if you carry a gun around town, check to see that you’ve taken it out of your purse or briefcase before you head to the airport.
Don’t miss the fun.
Look at the “passenger amenities” or “services” section of the airport website. (And subscribe to StuckatTheAirport.com).
Many airports have art or history exhibits, a unique shop or restuarant, even a special observation deck you may miss if you just get to the airport and stick by your gate.
Bring a wide mouth refillable water bottle. You don’t have to buy an overpriced bottle of water. More and more airports have bottle refill stations. Spend your money on something else.
Charge your phones and gadgets before you leave home.
Yes – there are more outlets in more places in airports. But someone else always seems to be using them when you’ need them.
And often they don’t even work. (Expert tip: check to see if that bank of chairs with outlets is plugged in before you use a chair outlet.)
To be a hero bring along a power cord with extra plugs so others can share.
Check to see if there are mobile apps – such as GRAB – you can use to order food ahead that you can just pick put at airport restaurant instead of waiting in line.
An increasing number of airports have At Your Gate and Airport Sherpa – which allow you to order food (and even neck pillows) and have the order delivered to you anywhere in the airport.
Bring snacks. You never know when you’re going to be delayed at the airport. Having something in your bag will keep you from getting cranky and from overspending at the airport and on the airplane, where free snacks can be limited or non-existent.
Shortcut the customs and immigration line.
If you’re traveling out of the country and don’t have Global Entry (a paid program) download the free Mobile Passport app for when you’re coming back through customs.
Either program allows you to shortcut your way through that often very long customs line. Look for the signs or ask the folks stationed along the lines for where to go as the Mobile Passport sign is often not easy to spot.
The Mobile Passport app lets you answer the customs questions on your phone before you even leave the plane and sometimes you can breeze right by the folks who have to wait on a line to fill out those questions at the Global Entry kiosk. Hah!
Bring mad money.
I carry a $10 bill – sometimes $20 – to use as mad money in case I end up stuck somewhere mad and frustrated. I buy myself a treat; a cocktail, some candy, an overpriced coffee drink, a silly souvenir. I deserve it.
Have a tip to add to this list? Please include it in the comments sections below.