5 Airport Hacks That Every Traveler Needs to Know

Travel like a seasoned road warrior with these little-known tips

Female passenger asleep under blanket on airplane
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For many travelers, air travel is a convenient and relaxing experience. After checking in, sending checked luggage through the security conveyors, and clearing the TSA checkpoint, travelers can feel at ease as the dedicated employees of their selected airline get them to their final destination. However, what many passengers don't know is that around them lies a number of potential pitfalls that could derail their trip.

From insecure luggage to unclean items, travelers face more hazards aboard a commercial aircraft than they realize. Thanks to the wisdom of those behind the scenes, travelers can make sure they get the most of their trip – even when the odds are against them. Here are the five airport insider tips everyone needs to know.

Locked Luggage Can Be Broken Into

One of the oldest misconceptions about airport security starts at home. For many years, travelers have been conditioned to lock their luggage prior to checking it to their final destination, with the hopes that their goods will arrive safe and secure. Although a good luggage lock can deter a thief from breaking into luggage, it will not necessarily stop them entirely.

In the past, rouge Transportation Security Agents have been known to break into luggage, with the intention of stealing from passengers. In addition, luggage handlers and other would-be thieves have broken into soft-sided luggage by penetrating the zipper around the bag and subsequently closing it using the same breached zippers. When both of those tactics don't work, a creative thief could also use a 3D printed mock-up of the leaked TSA master keys to get into a suitcase.

When it comes to checking luggage, travelers would be best served to not pack anything they can't lose in their bags. Instead, travelers should pack what they need, and consider other alternatives for getting valuables home.  

Old Flight Tags Can Result in Waylaid Luggage

International travelers often collect mementos of their journeys that remind them of the places they have been. While some are more ordinary (like passport stamps), others can be a little odder – such as luggage flight tags. When luggage flight tags add up on a suitcase, the situation can create confusion for flyers and ground crew alike.

When an old flight tag is scanned or manually checked, luggage can be sent to the wrong destination. As a result, travelers can have their luggage delayed for days, or lost entirely. In order to reduce your risk of this happening, be sure to remove all old flight tags prior to departure.

Avoid the Aircraft Giveaways – Pack Your Own Instead

Many travelers enjoy simple comforts when nestling in for a long flight. This can include the softness of a complimentary blanket, or the convenience of headphones when travelers forget to pack theirs. Despite their plastic sealing, these items may not necessarily be sanitized.

The cleaning policies for both headphones and airplane blankets vary from airline to airline. Instead of following a standard operating procedure, these items are sometimes recycled from flight to flight, carrying a number of germs with them. Instead of relying on the airline blanket or headphones, be sure to keep your own in your carry-on bag.

Write Pet Information on Their Crate

Traveling with pets can be a fun way to see the world. In some situations, small pets (like dogs and cats) are allowed to travel in the main cabin, while large animals must ride as checked luggage aboard their commercial aircraft. What happens if an animal is lost, or needs special care?

Veterinary experts recommend travelers write their pet's name and pertinent information on a label and clearly mark the label on the side of the kennel. Furthermore, the pet owner's information should also be clearly affixed to the kennel, in case the owner needs to be contacted regarding their pet.

Don't Be Rude to Airline Employees

Finally, the old saying "you get what you give" may not be nearly as relevant as while flying an airline. When things go wrong, gate agents and customer service personnel are the first line of assistance in getting stranded flyers home. Because of this power, travelers are best advised to be on their best behavior while flying.

Flight attendants told Travel + Leisure that a simple, polite, and friendly request can yield a world of help to those travelers who are stranded. In addition, expert flyers recommend paying for access to airline lounges when things go wrong, as the agents working the lounges have more tools to help travelers get to their final destination.

With a little knowledge, every traveler can see the world like a seasoned road warrior. By keeping these tips in mind prior to your next flight, you too can continue your adventures like an airport insider. 

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