Airports can be stressful for even the most experienced travelers. This is why in this article I’ll be covering five common airport mistakes, so you can avoid making them on your next trip.
Be sure to stick around until the end. Because the last mistake is one that you definitely do not want to make.
1. Going To The Wrong Terminal
The first common airport mistake that travelers make is a big one and this one. This one happens before you even leave your house. It would be setting your destination to arrive at the wrong airport terminal.
This applies regardless of how you choose to get to the airport. If you are driving yourself if you’re taking public transit if you’re booking an Uber or a taxi. There are often multiple terminals and you will need to decide which one it is that you are navigating to.
You’ll first need to specify if you’re heading to the domestic or the international terminal. You also need to make sure that you’re navigating to the departure level and not the arrivals level. And lastly, this is where it can get a little bit tricky because there are some airports that have multiple terminals for international and for domestic departures. An example would be when I flew out of Dubai a few months ago. I was very confused if I needed to be in the international terminal T1, T2 or T3.
The quickest way to know which terminal you’re flying out of would be to check the confirmation email or the itinerary that’s sent to you from the airline. Sometimes you can also find it on the airline’s app or their website. If in doubt just type your flight number and the departure airport into google and it should come up.
2. Not Going Directly To The Gate
This one is a common airport mistake, that I made before, and almost ended up missing a flight from Atlanta to Beijing. This would be not going directly to your boarding gate after airport security. If you have several hours before your flight, you definitely don’t need to sit and wait at the boarding gate. But you do want to know where it is.
This is especially important if you are not familiar with the airport that you are departing from. Some airports have multiple terminals or are even just very large and the gates can be quite spread out.
Don’t assume that gate 10 is going to be right beside gate 11. In many cases, you have to walk 20 minutes or even take a shuttle bus in order to get to the next gate.
If your gate is further than expected and you do need to wait for a shuttle bus to get you there. You don’t want to find this out 30 minutes before your flight departs.
3. Not Checking The Flight Monitor Regularly
Another related mistake would be not checking the flight information monitor regularly. Gates change and departure times sometimes also change.
If your flight is delayed and you have a little bit more time it’s usually not that big of a deal. But sometimes when all passengers are checked in for the flight they can even depart early. But if you aren’t checking your phone regularly or perhaps if you have headphones in and you missed the announcement altogether, you could completely miss the notification of any change to your flight.
Make it a habit to check the flight monitor regularly once you’re within a one-hour window of your flight’s scheduled boarding time.
4. Not Speaking Up If You Are Going To Miss Your Flight
The next common airport mistake that travelers make, is not speaking up if they’re at risk of missing a flight. If you arrive late to the airport and the security line is long, or if you have a tight connection, or perhaps if you didn’t go to your gate at the beginning and you realize that it’s further than you expected.
You need to speak up this is not the time to be shy. Letting an agent know that your flight is departing, can get you to the front of the security line. Also telling a flight attendant about your tight connection could put you at the front of the plane where you are the first passenger to get off.
The flight attendant could also call ahead to your next flight and let them know that you’re on your way. In some cases, you can even be escorted by attendance or by airport security through staff-only pathways to get to your gate as quickly as possible.
So if you are worried about making your flight, look for an agent working for the airline that you’re flying with, or even an airport staff member that can point you in the direction of someone who can help.
5. Failing To Re-Check Your Luggage
This airport mistake will truly make or break your trip. And that would be forgetting or not knowing that you need to pick up and recheck your bag during an international flight layover.
Sometimes when you drop a checked bag or suitcase, it goes all the way to your final destination where you pick it up. But sometimes when flying Internationally and you have more than one flight, you need to pick up your checked bag between flights and then check it again.
This is extremely important because if you have to pick up your bag and recheck it, and then you fail to do so. That bag is not getting to your final destination.
Layovers happen when you have two or more flights, and you land at another airport before reaching your final destination.
During an international layover, you’ll most likely have to collect your bags and carry them to another area where you recheck them. And then go through immigration and security before boarding your next flight.
The main purpose of rechecking luggage during the international layover is for the customs team to make sure that you are not bringing anything illegal from another country.
Having to pick up and recheck your bag can sound pretty confusing. I remember my first time doing it, I was quite nervous, that I wouldn’t know where I was supposed to even pick it up. The good news is that it’s actually a very straightforward process and nothing to stress about assuming you don’t forget to do it.
When you arrive at the airport and you initially check in your bag. Just ask the agent if it’s going to be checked all the way through to your final destination or if you are going to need to pick it up during your layover. They will let you know.
You will also likely get an announcement from the airline before your flight lands. Reminding passengers with checked bags that they need to pick them up and drop them a second time before they catch their next flight.
6. Bonus Tips
As a bonus tip, if you usually fly carry on only and wouldn’t think about your checked bag. Try to set an alarm on your phone to go off during your layover. When this alarm goes off it’s going to remind you that you need to pick up your checked bag.
I personally do this, since I’m usually flying without any checked bags. So if I do have a checked bag that I need to pick up during my layover I really do need this alarm to go off to remind me to actually do it.
And an extra bonus tip would be that anytime you’re checking a bag, try to take a quick photo of it before you do. If you can’t find your bag during your layover or if you can’t find your bag when you arrive at your final destination. The agent is going to ask you what does your bag look like.
It is much better to be able to show them a photo as opposed to saying the black suitcase.
Hopefully this article has helped you to prepare for your next trip to the airport. Safe travels and don’t forget to sahre your tip with us if you have one. Subscribe for our newsletter for more travel tips and hacks.