7 fun airport hacks to make travel really enjoyable | Tech US News

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Who else was personally victimized by the phrase: holiday trip? Maybe your dad loves rushing the family to get to the airport so early that you find yourself with four hours to spare. Maybe you booked a flight with a long layover. You could find yourself stuck at the airport, waiting for your flight, for hours.

Contrary to popular opinion, being stuck in an airport is not the nightmare it is made out to be. That’s helpful, given that more than 125,000 flights were canceled in the first half of 2022 alone, and things could get even worse during the peak holiday season. But being an airport professional requires commitment: you need to know the best places in the airport to de-stress, have fun, eat good food and more. Elite Daily spoke with three travel experts and industry insiders who shared their best tips for making vacation airport trips more enjoyable, no matter how long you’re stuck there.

Research your chosen airport.

“There are a lot of different amenities [inside airports],” says Allyah McIntyre, 27, an American Airlines flight attendant who has been in the industry for five years. “I would look at what that specific airport has before I go.”

New York’s JFK Airport, for example, has the TWA Hotel, which has a skating rink, gym, and even a year-round rooftop pool. (TWA offers Daytripper℠ reservations for four hours or more, though some hotel features don’t even require a reservation.) At Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport, you’ll find slot machines everywhere, approach responsibly, while others airports need more ways to pamper yourself, be it through nail and hair salons or massage services. One of the most popular is XpresSpa, which can be found in numerous airports in the United States.

Don’t arrive empty handed.

All the experts interviewed for this story swear by arriving at the airport with cheers and snacks in hand. “The worst thing that can happen if you’re delayed is that if you’re hungry, you’re going to feel worse,” says Lillian Rafson, CEO of surprise travel brand Pack Up + Go. “Never travel on an empty stomach; that way your body will be ready for whatever comes your way.”

It’s also a good idea to download your favorite shows and movies (maybe even a few holiday ones to get you in the mood!), make sure your music is available for offline listening, or bring a book or journal.

“Find something to distract you from the stressor [airport] the experience is,” suggests Valerie Stimac, travel blogger and creator of Valerie & Valise. “I have podcasts downloaded on my phone. If there’s a lot of stuff around me, I can put it on and be in my own little mental space.”

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Grab a bite and a drink.

Airport food has an unfortunate reputation for being expensive and not that good, but in recent years many airports have worked to improve their dining options. “A lot of airports now have famous restaurants in that destination. If there’s a place you want to dine in that city, you might be able to experience it at the airport,” says Rafson.

McIntyre agrees. “A lot of times you go to an airport and they’ll have something you’ve never seen before,” she says.

She points to Nashville International Airport, which boasts locally renowned restaurants like 400 Degrees, a Nashville-style fried chicken staple. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is another notable one, with restaurants like Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint, a soul food spot known for chicken and waffles. Don’t be afraid to grab a drink either – some airports have really great bar deals. But if you’re nervous about spending money on the wrong drink, a good bet is always a refreshing glass of champagne or something “light and fragrant with juice,” according to Forbes.

Unwind, relax, relax.

Besides the salons (we’ll get to those in a minute), there are plenty of places to find calm. “If you’re traveling and you’re especially overwhelmed, most airports have an interfaith chapel or a quiet room. People are there quietly contemplating or observing their religious practices so you can take that space to breathe and come back in. [the chaos] when you feel more capable”, explains Stimac.

Some airports, such as Chicago O’Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport, it even includes yoga rooms with complimentary mats.

There’s also Stimac’s favorite way to lounge at the airport, Minute Suites, which is one of several short-term room rental brands, almost like a mini hotel just for your layover. “It’s basically like a little private room with a bed, a desk, quiet lighting, and more. It’s the best! They’re even better than salons,” Stimac explains, but she notes, “Make sure you check if they need reservations first.”

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Get active!

If you know you’re going on a long flight, you might not want to sit down. Instead, explore ways to get your heart pumping. “Every time I’ve experienced a long delay, it’s really hard for me to accept that I just have to sit on my doorstep for hours,” says Rafson.

Many airports have cool activity deals, like the ROAM Fitness Gym at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which even lets you borrow Lululemon workout clothes and Brooks sneakers. But it doesn’t have to be anything fancy either!

“Sometimes I’ll go for a walk around the airport,” says Rafson. “If I have an hour or two to kill, it’s a great way to get some endorphins in before I sit on a plane.”

Look at the hall access.

You know those exclusive, members-only lounges you see at the airport? Well, you can qualify based on things like military status, credit card company, or your preferred airline. Stimac says that if you travel enough, it pays to become a holder of one of the best travel credit cards. Your American Express Platinum gets you access to Priority Pass lounges, Amex Centurion and Escape lounges, and Delta Sky Club lounges.

“Lounges are the not-so-secret secret of what makes travel more enjoyable,” says Stimac. “A lot of people think it’s a lot of money, and it is” — his card’s annual fees are nearly $700 — “but if you travel frequently, think about the value of peace of mind and relaxation!”

You can also access lounges through annual airline memberships (although they are also expensive) as well as a few other smart routes. Airlines like American, United and Alaska also offer a day pass option for about $59, which includes free snacks and drinks, Wi-Fi and other perks.

If you are an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces or a member of the Reserve and Guard service, you and your family can enter any of the United Service Organization (USO) airport lounges for free. Lounges often offer complimentary snacks and coffee, comfortable seating, televisions and video game consoles, and Wi-Fi.

Keep calm, have fun and remember why you travel in the first place!

Perhaps the best advice of all is to get your mindset right. Some problems during holiday travel are normal, after all!

“My biggest piece of advice is to expect the unexpected,” says Rafson. “Remember it’s a holiday and you are you will reach your destination. There may be some small bumps in the road, but try to remember why you’re making the trip, who you’re traveling with, or what you’re excited to see. It’s a great way to refocus and stay positive.”

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