13 things you should never do at the airport
OK, so you know not to joke about having a bomb in your luggage, but it’s still surprisingly easy to get yourself in a pickle at the airport. Here are 13 tips to help you avoid some of those all-to-frequent airport pitfalls.
Don’t expect it to be easy
Now that the golden age of aviation has passed, we can no longer count on assigned seating, checking baggage, legroom or free meals. Before you even board, you have to run the gauntlet of an overcrowded, understaffed airport. The glamour of flying is dead, and that can set you up for disappointment: “A tremendous amount of stress happens because we have expectations that are unrealistically high,” notes digital news platform Fast Company.
Don’t show up late
Being on time is crucial when it comes to air travel, according to veteran commercial pilot Tom Davis (not his real name). When you show up late to the airport, you not only risk missing your flight, but you make the experience worse for other passengers and the flight crew. If that doesn’t make you want to change your tardy ways, know that your impatience will attract the attention of airport security. All in all, it’s just one of the airport mistakes you really could do with avoiding.
Go easy on the perfume or aftershave
Airports and planes are crammed with people. You can make everyone’s experience a bit less unpleasant if you minimise your scent of choice. In fact, antiperspirant will be enough to get you through (and protect your seatmates), says Davis. Going overboard with scents is one of the inconsiderate aeroplane habits passengers need to stop.
Don’t ask a pilot for directions
If you see a uniformed pilot or flight attendant in an airport, there’s a really good chance they’re just passing through – which means they could be just as lost as you are. “When you ask a pilot for directions, you’re more than likely wasting both your time and theirs,” advises Davis.
In fact, there are a whole load of things you should never say to flight attendants.
Don’t take a sedative
It’s tempting to want to sleep your way through a long flight, but you don’t want to incapacitate yourself on a plane, warns Davis – you’ll not only need to get up for people sitting in your row, but you may need to respond to emergency instructions. A registered nurse told Business Insider that, “Taking medication to help you sleep while flying increases your risk of blood clots in your legs that can lead to death.” Shocking, but true.
Don’t drink too much
You need your wits about you while you’re at the airport, which is enough of a reason to go easy on the booze. Flying also dramatically dehydrates you, so drinking alcohol rather than water will make the flight and arrival far more miserable. That jet lag you’re feeling? It’s probably half hangover.
Take the stress out of your flight. Stay healthy and comfortable while airborne by following this guide to things you should never do on a plane.
Don’t try to outwit airport security
Yes, customs queues are annoying, and no one likes taking off their shoes, belts and coats. But there’s no way around security – and if you try, you’re not going to like what happens. On one flight, a woman who refused to take off her coat because it was part of her outfit ended up being pulled aside for an extensive pat-down. In the security line, follow the path of least resistance.
Follow these simple steps to get through airport security faster.
Don’t leave your laptop at security
Most security checkpoints require that all laptops and tablets be placed in a separate bin – and a shocking number of travellers forget to put their electronic devices back in their bags. “You wouldn’t believe how many people leave these things behind,” said one airport security officer.
Don’t sleep at the airport
It’s a great way to miss a flight and get pickpocketed or lose your belongings, Davis points out. “Sleeping at airports is a strictly at-your-own-risk activity,” writes TripSavvy. “It is something that few people would recommend outside of extenuating circumstances.”
If you’re at the airport hours before your flight, as we all need to be, a good way to say goodbye to airport boredom is with these global wi-fi passwords – just make sure you don’t get so engrossed on what’s on your device that you miss your plane.
Don’t mess with the baggage conveyor belt
Yes, you’re anxious to grab your suitcase and get out of there. And it’s incredibly frustrating when it’s sitting on the belt, ready to slide down, and then the belt stops – or your luggage gets stuck. Resist the urge to climb onto the belt to try to fix things: you’re not only risking a fall or getting tangled up in the machinery, but you’re also violating airport security.
Don’t forget to charge your phone
Your mobile boarding pass is useless if your phone is dead, and that’s really going to hold you up. If you can’t get it up and running quickly – or worse, forgot your charger and have to fork over for one at the newsstand – you could miss your flight.
Don’t take photos of strangers without their permission
“Taking someone’s photo without their consent and posting it on the internet is a [bad] thing to do,” advises Lifehacker. “It’s invasive, inappropriate, and can even put the other person in danger.” It can also put the photographer – and their phone or camera – in danger should the subject catch on and strenuously object.
Don’t forget why you’re there
Airports can be incredibly distracting, with duty-free shops, restaurants and other novelties. It’s become more and more common for travellers to lose track of time. Safebee – a safety news site – interviewed a guy who once missed his flight entirely: “I was in the [airport] coffee shop, found a newspaper and started poring over it – forgetting I had a flight coming a few gates down the concourse,” he admits.
Sign up here to get Reader’s Digest’s favourite stories straight to your inbox!