9 Best Airport Hacks to Survive Travel Chaos (2023)

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Learn how to use airport hacks to optimize your entire airport experience. These useful tips and tricks will make your journey more enjoyable!

A woman carrying a luggage in an airport
There are some simple and effective travel hacks that can help you survive the airport crowds and make it to your destination with ease. Image credit: Freepik

In the ever-evolving realm of air travel, where chaos and unpredictability are the constant companions, mastering the art of navigating airports becomes a crucial skill. With changing travel restrictions, long queues, and unexpected delays, flying can seem like a nightmare for many travelers. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some simple and effective travel hacks that can help you survive the airport crowds and make it to your destination with ease. From packing smartly to breezing through security, here are some of the best airport hacks to try in 2023.

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Busiest Travel Days of the Year

Airports witness a surge in travelers during the holiday season, with Thanksgiving and Christmas emerging as the undisputed champions of bustling terminals. According to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the two days leading up to Thanksgiving and the Sunday following it experience the highest influx of air passengers. As the calendar turns to December, airports remain bustling with activity until early January, making this period another peak travel time.

people going into a line in an airport
Airports witness a surge in travelers during the holiday season, with Thanksgiving and Christmas emerging as the undisputed champions of bustling terminals. Image credit: Phil Mosley/unsplash

However, it’s not just the winter festivities that lead to crowded airports. Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day mark additional occasions when the skies are filled with holidaymakers.

If you want to avoid the crowds and save some money on your airfare, you might want to consider traveling during the low season. This is the time when the demand for flights is lower, and the prices are more affordable. Generally, the low season in Canada and the USA (except for tropical states like Florida and Hawaii) falls between the winter months of November and March/April, which is similar to Europe. Another tip is to book your flights in the middle of the week, preferably on Tuesday or Wednesday, as these are the least popular days to fly. By following these simple suggestions, you can enjoy a more relaxed and budget-friendly travel experience.

Of course, sometimes you might not have a choice but to travel during the peak season. If that’s the case, don’t worry, there are still some ways to make your journey smoother and more enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you cope with the busy airports and flights.

Travel Hacks for Flying During the Busiest Times of the Year

As the skies fill with the hustle of holiday and peak seasons, your journey demands a strategic approach. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global passenger traffic in 2023 is expected to reach 4.9 billion, a 5.6% increase from 2022. This means that you may encounter higher fares, limited availability, and more security issues when flying during these times. To make the most of your trip, you need to plan ahead, be flexible, and have an airport checklist for flying during the busiest times of the year.

How to Breeze Through Security Checks

Use TSA Precheck and Global Entry Benefits

If you are traveling to or from the U.S., you may benefit from TSA Precheck and Global Entry programs that provide expedited security and customs screenings for both domestic and international flights. These programs have proven to be a game-changer, sparing countless travelers from missed flights and reducing overall travel time, especially during holiday seasons. 

If you’re unfamiliar with these travel privileges, here is a brief overview. The TSA Precheck is mainly for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and it expedites security screenings for domestic flights, enabling you to breeze through checkpoints without removing shoes or laptops from your bag. Meanwhile, Global Entry is open to citizens of some other countries as well, and it comes into play when arriving in the U.S. from an international trip, smoothing the customs and immigration process. However, both programs are only available at selected airports in the U.S. and some other countries, so you should check the availability before you apply. If you are interested in applying for these programs, you can do so online through the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) website, or you can also find a list of airports with Global Entry kiosks on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

Know What You Can Bring Through Security

When traveling with a carry-on, it’s crucial to understand what items are permitted and what’s a no-go. Remember the 100-milliliter (or 3.4-fluid-ounce) rule for liquids to avoid any issues at security. Special holiday treats like gravy, cranberry sauce, or wine fall into this category, so consider either leaving them behind or putting them in your checked baggage to prevent confiscation and potential delays.

Have Your Documents Ready

Ensure that you complete your pre-travel preparations diligently. Before heading to the airport, familiarize yourself with the latest passport, visa, vaccination, and health requirements for your destination. It’s crucial to stay updated, as these regulations may have changed since your last trip. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a check-in queue, only to be denied boarding due to outdated information. Research the specific country you plan to visit to ensure a smooth travel experience.

Choose the Left for Quicker Security Checks

When confronted with the decision of choosing a security line, the majority tends to gravitate toward the right. However, here’s a tip from seasoned travelers employing their insider travel hacks: for a swifter journey through security checkpoints, break away from the crowd mentality and choose the left side. You may discover shorter lines and a faster process, ensuring you spend less time waiting and more time savoring your travels.

Save Time, Money, and Hassle at the Airport

Enjoy the Benefits of Online Check-In

Online check-in is a convenient and hassle-free way to prepare for your flight and is one of the more basic airport hacks. Most airlines allow you to check-in 24 hours before your departure time. This means you can skip the long queues and paperwork at the airport. You can simply complete the check-in process from your own device and print your boarding pass or save it on your phone. 

Use Airline Apps to Track Your Flight Status and Boarding Pass

A simple yet powerful strategy that many travelers miss out on is tapping into the efficiency of their airline app to elevate their overall travel experience. Leveraging these apps can provide peace of mind, whether you’re navigating through long-haul flights with multiple layovers or seeking a streamlined process. With functionalities such as easy check-ins, flight updates, baggage tracking, seamless upgrades, electronic boarding passes, seat adjustments, and customer service access, you can avoid unnecessary stress and hassle. As a pleasant surprise, you may also discover hidden perks within the app, such as unexpected drink vouchers or exclusive offers. 

Consider Traveling Luggage-Free

Opting for a carry-on-only approach can be a wise decision, particularly during peak travel periods when airports are operating with limited staff. This minimizes the risk of your luggage getting lost amidst the hustle and bustle. If you prefer not to carry your bags, another alternative worth exploring is luggage-shipping services. These services can offer a convenient and reliable way to ensure your belongings reach your destination hassle-free, allowing you to focus on enjoying your journey without worrying about the whereabouts of your checked baggage.

Bring Along a Portable Charger

Experiencing that sinking feeling when your phone battery hits a low point is never pleasant—especially when your phone is your ticket and certification hub. Ensure a worry-free journey by packing a fully charged portable charger for your devices. Don’t overlook the charging cable for the portable charger; it’s just as crucial. Consider opting for a versatile power bank equipped with three output ports for super-fast charging.

Dress Smartly and Comfortably

Streamlining your airport experience starts with suitable airport clothes. Complicated outfits can lead to delays at security—think of those strappy boots that take ages to undo. Opt for comfortable slip-on shoes and a layered outfit. Not only does this make it easy to breeze through security with quick on-and-off options, but it also allows you to adjust to the varying temperatures in the terminal, on board, and at your destination. Don’t overlook the small details that might cause hiccups at security, such as metal buttons on shirts or studs on jeans. Even underwire bras can trigger metal detectors. When planning your airport clothes, pay attention to these subtle details, ensuring a smooth journey through security checkpoints. For more tips on what to wear to the airport, including advice on cozy socks and comfy matching sets, consult our ultimate guide.

The Ultimate Airport Hack: Elevate Your Travel with Blacklane

Having mastered airport hacks, it’s time to take the next significant stride – secure your ground transportation in advance. Once you’ve landed, fatigued and sore from a lengthy flight, there’s a perfect remedy for your ailments: a Blacklane airport transfer direct to your chosen destination. Operating in hundreds of airports globally, Blacklane’s services offer a seamless solution to your travel needs.

a man opening the door of a car for a woman passenger
Experience the epitome of elegance and style with a touch of sophistication. Image credit: Blacklane

Wherever you go, our professional chauffeurs can track your flight and adjust for any delays outside of your control. They’re hand-picked and locally knowledgeable, so feel free to ask them for tips or advice on what to do during your stay.

FAQs about Best Airport Hacks

What to do at the airport?

Plan ahead for check-in, stay updated on your flight status, and explore duty-free shops or lounges.

How to spend less time in security at the airport?

Use TSA Precheck, pack smartly, and arrive early to navigate security efficiently.

What to bring to the airport?

Essential documents, electronic devices, chargers, snacks, and a reusable water bottle.

Why are airports so cold?

Airports often maintain average temperatures for energy efficiency and to cater to the diverse climate preferences of travelers. For more details on choosing your airport attire, explore our article on airport clothing.


Ellie Smith

Ellie is an avid traveler, writer, and adventurer, with a passion for exploring the world and sharing her experiences through storytelling. Working for global chauffeur company Blacklane and having lived in cities like Dubai and Berlin, she has gained valuable first-hand experience in uncovering hidden gems worldwide.