Travel light, keep luggage size small enough to fit in the overhead compartment so you can carry-on your luggage. The luggage should have four omni-directional rollers with retractable pull-handle for that long walk to terminals. There many packing tips, such as roll your shirts to avoid crease. Attach a unique and colorful contact info tag to your luggage to distinguish your luggage from other. If you travel with a laptop, get a backpack where the laptop can be easily accessed. Here are some airline carryon policies: American, Delta, United, Southwest, JetBlue
Park your car at the airport can be expensive on trips longer than 2-3 days. If Uber is available in your city, consider taking it. In my experience, Uber driver will meet you in less than 10 minutes after call. If you have to drive, find a park-and-ride location near the airport that has covered parking and frequent shuttle pickup. Some park-and-ride chains offer frequent-user discounts.
If you don’t have to check in your luggage, go straight to the automatic checkin kiosk to get your boarding pass to avoid waiting in line. International traveler may be required to go to the counter to show your passport but most airline automates even passport scanning. Most airlines offer premium passenger service where the line is shorter. Check your boarding pass if you qualify. If you are traveling on airlines that do not offer reserved seating, like Southwest, check in 24 hour in advance to get an early boarding number to board sooner to ensure there is enough bin space for your carry-on luggage.
Gate security is another place where you often have to stand in line. If you are a premium passenger with priority boarding, or has TSA PreCheck status, your line may be shorter. If you arrived at the airport a little late and know you will be competing with many other passenger for bin space, you may want to purchase priority boarding at the kiosk when you check in. To prepare for the security checkpoint, empty items in your pockets to an easily accessible pocket in your carryon. I usually wear comfortable slip-on shoes and belt-less jeans when I travel. Make sure to throw away or empty your water bottles and never travel with full-sized aerosol and personal hygiene products but use only smaller traveler size products.
Boarding is typically 30 to 45 minutes before departure. Unless your boarding number is pre-assigned such as in Southwest Airline, get in line earlier to ensure you have access to scarce overhead bin space. Here is dirty little secret. Gate agents usually do not check boarding or group number when scanning ticket (or e-ticket if on the phone). Some sneaky travelers will board earlier than their group number by acting like they belong to first class. If you’re going to try this, be sure to look the part by using electronics boarding pass on your phone. Do not try this if you’re using a paper ticket–other passengers will actively look for cheaters.
Seating for most airlines are assigned during reservation. Many airlines block choice seats and release them only on the day of flight. This means you should check seating availability when you check in, as you may find better seats available. I personally prefer isle seats because they allow me to get in and out when you need to. Bulkhead seats offer extra leg room but flight attendants often place families with infants for folding table access. Modern aircrafts have AC outlets around your seat, but sometimes no seats have them. If you plan to work on your computer, consider reserving a seat with power outlet. Information about your plane’s seating can be found on SeatGuru.
For airlines that do not offer assigned seating, such as Southwest airline, early boarding travelers sometimes save seats or discourage others from sitting next to them by occupying the middle seat, thus splitting a three-seat row, leading travelers that boards later to consider sitting elsewhere due to a lack of personal space. Once everyone boarded cunning traveler moves to the window or isle seat leaving lots of room to spare. This is a rather selfish act that I don’t practice personally, but I do want the reader to be cognizant of it.
One of greatest challenge of flight is boredom. Most airlines provide free inflight entertainment. Some require you to download an app in order to access the entertainment. Therefore I highly recommend you download the airline app before you get on the flight. Inflight internet access is usually not worth the money, but if you got to have it, it is available. Whether you plan to binge watch the available entertainment or relax with your eyes closed, having a noise cancelling headset will make both much more enjoyable. Bose Quiet Comfort noise-cancelling headphone is a standard accessory for seasoned travelers; it is good for blocking out noise and making the movies sound so much better. For international flight, I usually take off my shoes, because feet will swell in flight. If you needed to use restroom inflight, try do it before or after the drink service, as the service carts will clog the isle and prevent you from returning to your seat.
Connecting flight is a fact life for air travel. When you plan your itinerary make sure the layover is at least 1-1.5 hour to accommodate for possibly delay and long walk between terminals. Layover at international entries needs to be at least 2 hours. For long layovers you will need food, drink, power and internet, so will other travelers. Find a place to plug-in. If you (or your company) are willing pay for club lounge (around $400 per year, or $50 per visit), you will be find everything you need there, including bars, restaurant and shower.
Most rental car companies offer “direct-to-car” service. You just have to register. If you travel frequently this is a must, as you can avoid getting in line. Fill the gas when you return and keep the receipt for proof of fill-up. If you are traveling to wintery places, make sure the car has the ice scraper. When parked outside, life up the windshield wipers so its is not “ice-glued” to the windshield.