I abhor traveling on holidays, I call it amateur day. Newby travelers with no strategy get in my way from check-in to wheels down. Here’s a few airport tips to blend in with the pros and make the airport as painless as possible.

Change your airplane seats

Many airlines hold certain seats and open them up the day of the flight, like the bulk head seats (very front behind first class) and the exit row seats (huge leg room). I always go to an electronic check-in and see if I can get a seat closer to the front of the plane or a seat with an open seat next to it. Some airlines have electronic check-in kiosks past security for carry-on-ers.


I usually travel for a month at a time, and I severely envy the carry-on, week trip crowd. When I do have a short trip I’m all smiles wheeling past the baggage claim to the front of the taxi line.

carry-on pro’s

  • Print your boarding pass at home, skip check-in
  • No checked bag fee
  • No long line at check-in
  • No baggage claim

carry-on con’s

  • May slow you down at security
  • Competing for space in the overhead bins
  • Dragging a bag around through connections


Comfortably coast through airport security.

A security strategy is a must for pleasant airport travel. Step one, have ID and boarding pass out to enter the line. Then put your ID safely away.

Choose your line wisely:

  • No babies, kids or families
    Over packers, usually conspicuously fighting with a stroller
  • No wheelchairs
    Must be checked by hand. Takes forever.
  • Senior citizens
    Dementia seems to be amplified in the security line, slow
  • Choose business travelers that look like they are in a hurry
    Probably have shoes in hand and laptop already in bin.

Pack good:

  • Liquids: 3.4 ounces or less in a 1 quart clear bag. Use a new one each time or you could be flagged for chemical residue on an old bag. Put close to the zipper or in an outside pocket for easy access.
  • Use compartments to pack so everything goes out and back in easily if you have a bag check
  • Place unusual items towards the very top just in case they get flagged in the x-ray, then they can be cleared up quickly

Dress for the airport:

  • Wear socks (the floor is dirty, the plane is cold)
  • Shoes that are easy off and on
  • No belt to take off is better than having a belt to take off
  • Go light on jewelry (metal)
  • Put your ticket in your hand
  • Smile

Do something while you are waiting in line. By the time I reach the bins I already have shoes and jacket off, laptop out of case and ticket in hand. It’s also a good idea to wait to push your things through personally before going through the metal detector.

Get redressed away from the crowd. Keep walking till you find a nice nook to put your self together.

Check the departure board & swing by the gate

If you spot your gate and there is a huge line, that’s bad. Jump in line, those in front get the best re booking routes. If everything is cool and plenty of time to spare, grab a drink and a snack and start enjoying your vacation.

Buy a bottle of water before boarding

When the pilot finally announces that you’re number 37 for take-off you are going to wish you had something to sip. Some airlines are stingy with the water and flying is dehydrating, especially if you drink several bourbon and cokes on lay-overs. I’m just saying.

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