Looking for a quiet place to hide from the crowds? How about free drinking water? A good place to catch a few winks? Most of these things are available in every airport around the globe, you just have to know where to look (or what to ask for). We queried the experts for some of their best airport secrets – tips and tricks that you can use the next time you’re spending time in the airport. Here are our picks:
Traveller Time Out: If you don’t have access to a frequent flyer lounge and you need a quiet place to chill out, head to the chapel (or ask if the airport has a quiet room). Chapels are non-denominational and you can sit back and relax in peace if you’ve got a layover or a long wait until your flight. If you plan to play Angry Birds, use your headphones.
Free WiFi: Some forward thinking airports now offer free WiFi to travellers, but many still don’t. If your airport is asking you to pay a ridiculous fee for an hour’s worth of cat videos, there is a (sneaky) option. Find an airline’s lounge and park yourself nearby. You’ll likely find a few others doing the same thing. If you’re close enough, you should be able to pick up the lounge’s free WiFi network.
Shorter Security Line-ups: Large airports usually have more than one screening point. Check the airport map (online or in terminal) to find additional screening areas. The alternate screening areas may be a bit further away, but the lines can be considerably shorter. If you’re looking for alternative screening areas in US airports, the TSA makes it easy with its own app.
Free Water: Tired of paying a couple of bucks for a small bottle of water? You don’t have to. Just bring an empty water bottle with you. You can fill it up in the bathroom or at a drinking fountain. Make sure it’s empty when you go through security and you can fill it up on the other side and take it on the plane with you.
Free Bed: If you find yourself stuck in an airport overnight because of connecting flights, and do not want to pay for a hotel, be sure to consult The Guide to Sleeping in Airports. The website gives you the lowdown on where to find comfortable places to sleep in airports worldwide. There’s also lots of information about other airport services like storage lockers, showers, etc.
Free Flights: If you have a flexible schedule, tell the agent at check-in and the gate agent that you’re willing to be bumped if the flight is overbooked. You’ll be added to a bumping list and offered compensation for your delay in the form of a free future flight or credit. You always have the right to refuse the offer and keep your seat, should you decide that the compensation offered isn’t worth it.
Lounge Pass: If you really must get in that airline lounge, just ask. These days many lounges will let you pay an entrance fee to get in. Prices vary widely, but sometimes it’s a great deal. And all you have to do is ask.
Remember these tips for your next trip to the airport. And if you’ve got any secrets to pass along, let us know. We won’t tell anyone…