5 Things You Should Always Do at the Airport Before Boarding

published Jun 12, 2023
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I’m an extremely efficient flyer. I know what I need to do at the airport and I do it quickly and unobtrusively. It helps that I fly at least once a month, of course. But for people who don’t fly often, I gathered some tips from the pros — a flight attendant as well as gold status flyers — to get you through the airport and onto your plane in the best and most relaxed way.

Use the bathroom.

The boarding line lasts a while — especially if you’re on a larger flight. Take that time to use the restroom, says Warren Mueller, a gold status flyer. “There’s no reason to stand with 200 others before boarding,” he says.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Check your bags for prohibited items.

Once, I accidentally brought my pepper spray from home to the airport in my carry-on (t was still attached to my car keys). When my bag went through the security check, it was an ordeal. I ended up getting lectured and having my spray put in the trash — understandably!

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Check your bags thoroughly for prohibited items before you get to the airport so you can leave them at home instead of losing them to TSA. Hilary Clark, director of charter airline company Planet 9’s in-flight service representatives (as well as being a former flight attendant), notes this is especially important for international flights, where snacks like fruits and vegetables won’t pass security. A captain she flew with once went through the line with a bottle of milk from his hotel room — and he was fined $1,000.

Dress for smooth security.

You know that person fumbling with their shoes and belt and coat and pockets and everything right when they hit the table in the security line? Don’t be that person. Tifanie Connor, a gold status flyer with Star Alliance and Premier 1K with United, suggests the following: “Dress for a quick breeze through security. For instance, wear slip on/off shoes, no belt, and put your jacket in your carryon so you don’t need to remove it.” Trust me, everyone else in the line will be thankful for your efficiency.

Get comfortable.

So you’re about to be on a plane for a long time. It’s time to get comfortable! Gold status Star Alliance and OneWorld traveler Laura Studarus has a hack for that. “I obsessively collect hotel slippers — the kind they give away,” she says. “I always bring two pairs with me, one for each leg of the flight. Right before we take off, I put a pair of those on and take off my shoes. That way if I get up to go to the bathroom, I don’t have to struggle into my shoes [or] go in bare feet.”