14 Airplane Hacks That Will Change the Way You Fly

Before you book your next trip, learn these insider tricks that will make flying a whole lot easier and more pleasant.

1 / 15
Aerial view of airport. Airplane taxiing to runway before take off.
Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

The only way to fly

Flying is such an amazing way to get you around the world, but it often comes with airport delays, baggage issues, and security nightmares. Fortunately, some simple hacks can make your trip just a little easier and your entire travel experience a whole lot better. We got the lowdown from travel experts on everything from getting through security easily to skipping baggage claim even when you have a ton of luggage. Trust us: These tips will change the way you look at flying.

2 / 15
Many plugs plugged into electric power bar
Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock

Bring your own power strip

Yes, we’re talking about your basic multi-outlet surge protector. Why is packing this in your carry-on such a genius idea? Because when you get to the gate and find that all the plugs are taken, you can nicely ask one of the plug owners if it’s OK to swap your power strip so both of you can plug in and power up, says Cindy Richards, editor-in-chief of TravelingMom.com. It’s also useful in hotels, when outlets are limited or when you only have a single electrical adapter to use in another country.

Frequent flyers should also look into these must-have travel accessories.

3 / 15
travel toiletries, small plastic bottles of hygiene products on the suitcase and cosmetic bag

Give yourself easy access at security

One of the worst things about flying is emptying out your suitcase filled with electronics and liquids. But Allie Phillips, the owner of Soarin Travel in New Orleans, has a smart hack. “Packing your carry-on bag with easy access to anything that needs to be scanned separately helps,” she says. If you group all of your electronics and liquids together in a separate travel bag within your larger bag so you can grab it all at once, you won’t feel quite so frazzled.

These are the things you shouldn’t wear on a plane, according to flight attendants.

4 / 15
Suitcase on pastel beige background
Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Use a shipping service

Now that airlines frequently charge massive fees to check bags, travel expert Valerie Joy Wilson of Trusted Travel Girl opts to use a luggage shipping service like LugLess. “This way, you don’t have to carry your bags through the airport or wait to get them at the chaotic baggage claim—and you avoid the high baggage fees, since their prices start at $15 per bag,” Wilson says. “It makes travelling so much easier, especially during the holidays, when the airports are extra crowded and luggage space comes at a premium.”

Make sure you memorize these handy packing tips before your next trip.

5 / 15
Predrag Sepelj/Shutterstock

Time your travel right

Try to avoid a departure time that coincides with rush-hour traffic, says George Morgan-Grenville, CEO and founder of the U.K.-based luxury travel company Red Savannah. “It’s a pointless and stressful way of missing a flight,” he says. And while that may seem like common sense, this isn’t: If possible, avoid arriving in a destination very late at night or early in the morning, when it’ll be trickier to find a car service to take you to your destination.

You’ll wish you knew these airport tips for seniors sooner!

6 / 15
Close-up back view of legs of elegant businesswoman and businessman are going along terminal lounge. They are carrying their luggage to departure area
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Research luggage allowance for connections

Even when you’ve sufficiently packed for an international flight, your bag may be overweight for a connection, as many domestic connections have lower allowances, Morgan-Grenville says. He advises weighing your luggage ahead of time, since it’s much less expensive to buy overweight allowance in advance. For example, United Airlines doesn’t allow you to exceed 50 pounds for checked bags when flying economy, while Spirit Airlines won’t let you exceed 40 pounds.

Don’t miss these etiquette rules for flying on an airplane.

7 / 15
Passenger holding bottle of water about to drink preventing dehydration while traveling on the plane
Atstock Productions/Shutterstock

Watch what you eat and drink

To avoid bloating and making jet lag worse, Morgan-Grenville recommends drinking lots of still water, which will flush out your system and keep headaches at bay. Avoid carbonated drinks, which cause major bloat, along with alcohol, since it can be particularly dehydrating when you’re flying. Also minimize food intake, especially carbs, which your body will have difficulty digesting at high altitudes, he says. If you’re hungry, feast on fruits and veggies.

Find out how to get picked for an upgrade on a flight.

8 / 15
Canadian passports
Photo: Lester Balajadia/Shutterstock

Check your passport

Many people aren’t aware that their passports have a hidden expiration date, says Jose Bone from The Passport Office. “What I mean is that depending on where you are traveLling, you may be required to have a few months of validity remaining on your passport,” he explains. “For example, if you attempt to travel to any EU country with a passport with less than six months’ validity remaining, you will be denied entry.” In other words, if you’re heading to Europe, your passport will expire six months earlier than what is printed. This rule varies from country to country. (Mexico and Canada only require three months’ validity remaining for entry.)

Learn what your passport colour really means.

9 / 15
Checking trip details. Full length of serious senior wife and husband are standing with suitcases at international airport and looking at flight tickets with concentration. Copy space in left side
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Arm yourself with information

“Travel is not always an easy experience, so try to prepare yourself for potential problems,” says Liz Dahl, a travel agent based in Louisville, Kentucky, and the founder of Boomer Travel Patrol. Dahl suggests researching what to do if your luggage gets lost, if your flight gets delayed, and if bad weather changes your vacation options. It’s also smart to bring along books, magazines, snacks, and water so you don’t have to pay high prices at the airport, she says. “The most important thing to bring is a good sense of humour, and remember to be polite to the people who can actually help you at the airlines and airport,” she says. “Then, you will have a great trip.”

Check out these free things to do when you’re stuck at the airport.

10 / 15
overhead view of man with passport and air ticket sitting at wooden table with coffee and leather bag
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Set your watch to the local time

No one likes jet lag, and this trick can, well, trick your body into adjusting a lot quicker if you’re travelling across time zones. According to Scott McNeely, COO and cofounder of the experiential travel company Modern Adventure, the key is to do this with an old-fashioned watch, not your phone—and to do it early. Start wearing your time-adjusted watch for a day or so before departure to make your brain adopt the local time and reset your circadian rhythm ahead of your arrival. And on the flight, adds McNeely, avoid looking at any clock except your watch. Here are more ways to outsmart jet lag.

11 / 15
Luggage shelf with luggage in an airplane. Aircraft interior. Travel concept.
Nikolay Antonov/Shutterstock

Get priority boarding if you’re travelling with carry-on bags

You may have to buy a more expensive seat, pay an extra $10, or have the airline’s cobranded credit card, says Miguel Suro, a Miami attorney and lifestyle writer at The Rich Miser, but it’s worth it. “Otherwise, you might be forced to gate-check your bag because the overhead bins are full by the time you board,” he explains. “The problem with this is that if there’s a delay in baggage claim at your destination airport, you can get stuck there for half an hour or more upon landing.”

Find out the best times to book holiday flights anywhere in the world.

12 / 15
nano sim card extract from sim card adaptor on wood background

Travel like a local

Andy Abramson, the CEO of Comunicano who was named Business Traveler of the Year by Business Traveler magazine in 2015, suggests always using local SIM cards in mobile phones to get better speeds, connectivity, and quality. “Uploads of photos go faster; if you need to be on a conference call, the quality is always better, as you are connecting locally to the provider’s point of presence; and there’s no need to buy any add-on bundles from your USA carrier,” he says. You can get a SIM card at most local and international airports.

Protect yourself from all the ways hackers get you when you travel.

13 / 15
Full body side portrait of young african man traveling with suitcase and cellphone at airport

Sign up for free business programs

If you have a business—even if it’s not incorporated or profitable—sign up for free business programs like American’s Business Extra, Suro advises. You’ll get points every time you or your employees fly, which are over and above your frequent-flier miles. Suro says that you can redeem those points for free flights, lounge access, upgrades, elite status, and other goodies.

Find out how to avoid the line at popular tourist attractions.

14 / 15
Teen girl using smarthphone while waiting for international flight in airport departure terminal. Young passenger with backpack travelling on airplane. Teenager tourizm abroad alone concept.
Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock

Access information without Wi-Fi

Chloe Vallencia, a frequent flier and the owner of Couple-Gift, realized that she often doesn’t have easy access to Wi-Fi when she’s travelling abroad. So she uses the app Maps.Me to search for itineraries, maps, and locations. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require an internet connection.

Learn why you should never take your shoes off on an airplane.

15 / 15
Calendar And The Toy Plane
KPG Payless2/Shutterstock

Check on transferable flights

Plans change, and sometimes, vacations are cancelled. To add to the disaster, many flights are non-refundable, and travelers end up losing everything they shelled out for their holidays. “A very costly mistake many still do is not checking whether their flight is transferable,” says Galena Stavreva, a London-based frequent flier and travel expert. “If it is, the name of the passenger can be changed, the reservation can be sold to someone else, and the seller can recover at least some of the cost of the flights.” So before booking your flight, check ahead of time to see the restrictions—and consider not booking the flight (even if it seems like a good deal) if it’s not transferable. Here’s a full list of airlines that allow name changes.

Next, learn the things you should never say to flight attendants.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest