Trusty Travel Tips - Airport Etiquette for the Savvy Traveler

When it comes to directions, I'm about as blind as a bat. I'm one of those people you see driving down the highway fumbling with a full sized map and a GPS, and will still end up taking the "scenic route".

I may be directionally challenged on the road, but when it comes to airports, I know what's up. After years of flying, I have mastered the art of the airport. Where it may be a hectic, busy place for some, I find the airport a fascinating place.

I like to think that I've become somewhat airport savvy, and have picked up on a few travel tips that will make getting from the ticket counter to your gate, to your luggage after your flight, a bit easier for you, and everyone else around you.

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Luggage Locks = Bad Idea

This next bit of wisdom also deals with luggage. I know that every single item in your suitcases is (in your mind) irreplaceable and priceless.

DO have your address tags on your suitcases by the time you check them in! People tend to get angry if they have to wait for you to tag and address all your bags while your at the counter. Best time to do this is while you're waiting in line.

DO NOT bring luggage locks! Airport security will just make you unlock them when you get there, and if they are not unlocked when your bag needs to be searched, they can and will break the lock to search your bags. Tough break, I know. But no worries, they probably don't value that amazing shirt you picked up on your last vacation as much as you do.

My bag is usually the lucky one to get searched, so when I open up the bag, I seem to always have that nice little note they leave that lets you know that its been searched. I do pitty the airport security guard that has to search my bag on my return flight, when all my clothes inside are dirty. What a shame...

Nickiee wanted to come too
Nickiee wanted to come too

Don't bring your entire closet

One of the first things I will tell you to do, is pack accordingly. If you are going on a trip for a few days, pack light so that your stuff can fit into a carry on sized back. That way, you can blow pass the baggage claim when you land. But, if you are going on a longer trip, you still need to pack as light as you can.

Small bags are easier to maneuver through parking lots and lines inside the airport.You don't want to be the person with three suitcases that each look like they are capable of fitting the rest of your family inside them with room to spare. So, the less stuff you have, the easier it is to move around and get where you need to be.

Hint: leave your surfboard, golf clubs, bouquet of flowers, and giant stuffed animals at home, you can rent whatever you need when you get to where you're going... minus the stuffed animal).

Wrangling Your Carry On

Once you have boarded your plane, you need to find your seat quickly, and store your carry on in the overhead bin. Now, if at all possible, store your bag closest to where you sit.

You don't want to be walking all over the plane if you need something out of it, or to get it when you land. If its small enough to fit under the chair in front of you, put your bag there instead to save space for other people's bags that need to be in the overhead bins.

The Infamous Bubble Invader

Ok, picture this: you have stashed all your stuff, and you are finally sitting in your seat. Then, making a direct course for the seat next to you, is the Bubble Invader. You know it as soon as this person sits down.

The Bubble Invader takes full advantage of the arm rest between the two of you, makes sure that his or her bag has enough room under the seat in front of them that his or her foot is in your foot space, and finally, the cherry on top is that there seems to be a sort of magnetic force pushing their knees as far apart as they can possibly go in the small confines of their chair.

And then, when you think that this is all the Bubble Invader can subject you to, they surprise you once more. Their hair seems to have an impressive amount of static electricity on this particular day, so that their hair is filling up any available space that they are not already taking up. And, it seems that the hair has taken up a liking for your sweater.

Ok, so this could be a little over the top, but, the point is, you do not want to be this person!

Courteous Carousel Counsel

Once you land, and have escaped the Bubble Invader, you are almost home free... but not yet. The time has come to reclaim your other (nicely packed and addressed without a lock) bag.

Now this is where battles are won and lost. Everybody is eager to be on there way, and everybody from your plane is converging around one baggage claim carousel. Most people gather around the dump point (place where the luggage slides onto the belt).

Do yourself a favor, and move down the line a bit. It's also a good idea to stand back away from the belt a few feet until you see your bag, then you make your move. Too many people get right up close to the belt, so that when others need to get to their bags, the bystanders are in the way, thus, causing people to become disgruntled.

It is also important to be courteous to all the other poor souls that do not know the ways of the airport, or have not read this hub : )


Have a Pleasant Flight!

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Comments 10 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

Great tips - I don't travel much anymore but did plenty. Good Hub


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for the good solid advice. Your article is well done. Welcome to Hub Pages!


cjcarter profile image

cjcarter 7 years ago Author

Thanks James! Suziecat7, check out Ding. Its a program out of Southwest that alerts you whenever cheap tickets are available! Thats almost how I fly everytime I do.


Kyandii profile image

Kyandii 7 years ago from Leicestershire

I think this should be handed out to people before they fly. I think it's also important to stop people from using the reclining feature in small planes/ economy as it means the person behind them also has to use it, creating a fustrating game of human dominos.


cjcarter profile image

cjcarter 7 years ago Author

Kyandii, so I think this list of airport dont's should be printed on the back of airline tickets, how does that sound? Or, at the very least printed on pamphlets available to read while waiting through security. Oh! How about on the back doors of bathroom stalls...I think we're on to something here...


solomon 6 years ago

pls i need more info from you.

thanks for your coperation


CaptainTravel 6 years ago

Informative and nicely summarized. Very useful for our readers.


Ed 5 years ago

Good tips. Especially like the part on "Courteous Carousel Counsel".

Really annoys me when they hog the carousel. Whenever I travel with my family, I'll tell my spouse and kids to stand in one place(away from the crowd) and I'll alone do the duty of collecting our bags. I'll stand away from the carousel, approach it only when I see my bags.

Maybe those "carousel hogger" are short sighted or too dumb to recognize their own bags beyond 1 feet of sighting distance...sigh...


cjcarter profile image

cjcarter 5 years ago Author

CaptainTravel - Thanks!

Ed - my thoughts exactly :) Thanks for the thoughts!


UtopiaLifeSteve 5 years ago

Good stuff! I've been flying roughly 3 flights/week for the last 5 months. I wanted to add a few things:

1. Charge your phone, laptop, ipod, etc BEFORE going to the airport. This is always a mission at the airport as some terminals have very limited power access and everyone is scrambling for that last bit of juice before boarding.

2. If you have a connecting flight, book your seat as close to the front of the plane of your first flight as possible. It can save you 10-15 minutes being at the front and if your flight was delayed, can be the difference between missing and making your connecting flight.

3. If you plan on sleeping, book a window seat (your neck will thank you for the added comfort of leaning your head against the window). Otherwise book an aisle seat.

4. If you have a rental car, go to the counter first and take care of the paperwork since you will be waiting 15 minutes for your luggage anyway at baggage claim.

5. Airborne is your friend. Take one before your flight and one after. Traveling reeks havoc on your immune system!

Great post CJ!

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