Airports. Just the thought of them used to send chills up my spine. Waiting in crowded checked baggage lines and taking my shoes off at security only to finally sit in a cramped airplane seat was enough to send me running. Luckily for me, I have learned quite a few hacks that make navigating airports much less stressful, and even enjoyable. If you’ve been looking for ways to make your airport travels go more smoothly, check out the five tips below.

Getting the best prices with Google Flights

The first step to navigating airports with ease is booking the right flight. One of the most stressful parts of flying is simply finding a flight and booking it. I used to spend hours searching the internet for the best deals, going from airline to airline, and even making calls to representatives who would put me on hold. With Google Flights, those days are over.

Now, I simply open up a private web browser and go to Google Flights. Why a private web browser, you may ask? Airline websites can use your cookies to see flights that you have been viewing, thus raising the prices. Using a private browser prevents this, ensuring that I get the best prices on all of my flights.

Google Flights consolidates all flight information into one website. All you need to do is enter your desired flight dates and airports, and it will show you information for all available flights, no matter the airline. From there, you can choose the flight that is both convenient for you and the best price, allowing you to save money and book flights with ease.

Get free checked luggage

You’ve finally booked your flight, and you’re headed to the airport. Now you have to deal with checked luggage. Do you try to cram all of your things into a carry-on? Or do you pay the hefty checked baggage fees? With the help of Upgraded Points, I don’t have to do either of these.

The expert advice from Upgraded Points guided me in picking the right travel rewards card, which provides reimbursements for all of my checked baggage fees. Now, packing and taking my luggage to the airport is no problem. I no longer have to worry about my overstuffed carry-on being too big, or my checked bag being too expensive. Having no extra luggage to drag around the airport has made traveling so much easier for me and has greatly enhanced my airport experiences.

Navigating security with ease

This next tip may seem small, but it has helped me navigate airport security with no problem. Research has shown that right-handers tend to choose the right side when given an option between left and right, and the majority of the world is right-handed, meaning it is almost always more efficient to choose the left side in an airport security line. Consistently choosing the left side has helped me get through airport security much more quickly than in the past, which always allows extra time for me to relax at the gate before I board the plane.

However, before I even get to my gate, I have to get my carry-on and other items from the airport security scanner. I have learned that tying a bright colored ribbon to the handle of my bag makes it stand out so that I can’t miss it. This makes grabbing my bag and heading to my gate go so much more smoothly. I find this tip especially helpful for my checked bag, because while waiting for your bag to go through the airport security scanner can be hectic, it does not even begin to compare to waiting on your checked bag at baggage claim after finally landing.  Somehow, all of the bags look identical when they are going around the carousel, but now that I use a bright ribbon, mine doesn’t look anything like the others, making it easy to grab and head to my final destination.

Accessing exclusive luxury airport lounges (without paying a membership!)

After making it through security, I often want a peaceful place to relax, especially if I have extra time before boarding. I used to be envious of the seemingly first-class passengers that had access to the airport lounges. They had complimentary food, drinks, massages, and basically everything I could only dream of having in an airport. Much to my surprise, Upgraded Points showed me that rewards credit cards often offer access to these lounges. Having access to these exclusive lounges has completely changed traveling for me. Layovers that are hours long are no problem because of the amenities that these lounges provide. I can kick my feet up and connect to WiFi while sipping on a complimentary glass of wine. What’s better than that? I now have a quiet place to unwind before, between, and even after flights, making airports and flying an enjoyable experience.

Asking for a seat upgrade

So you’re finally at your gate and getting ready to board the plane. I bet you’re wondering where you will be sitting, and who you’ll be sitting with. I used to wonder about this for days leading up to my flight, worrying that I would be assigned the dreaded middle seat or a seat in the back of the plane. Unfortunately, unless you pay in advance, you often don’t have the privilege of choosing your seat on a plane. One thing I was always told while growing up was that, “it never hurts to ask.” I have found this to be especially true in airports. For every flight that I take, I always ask the airport staff at my gate if there are any available seat upgrades. I have been told no plenty of times, but the times that I have been told yes make it totally worth it. I have also found that airport staff are much more likely to say yes if you are celebrating something, a honeymoon, a birthday, or graduation, for example. So be sure to keep that in mind when asking!  

There are countless tips and tricks for navigating airports, but these are the five that I have found to be most helpful. No matter how you like to travel, Upgraded Points can definitely help you find a rewards credit card that fits your style and will help you find even more airport perks.