Five smart travel hacks only frequent flyers know

Airports can be a drag. But layovers, delays, and airport lobbies don't have to be uncomfortable. Using these expert tips, you can hack your way into a more enjoyable flying experience.

Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters/File
Participants of a guided airport tour watch an Airbus A380-841 airplane of Singapore Airlines taking off from Zurich airport, Switzerland (April 14, 2016).

Airports can be a drag. Long lines, grumpy staff, crowded waiting areas, and poorly automated climate control can really put a damper on your travel day. But layovers, delays, and airport lobbies don't have to be uncomfortable. Using these expert tips, you can hack your way into a more enjoyable flying experience.

1. Skip the Lines

"Oops! Am I in the wrong line?" Most of the time, these simple words will allow you to get checked in at the priority desk without any issue. If you are at the airport and you see a painfully long check-in line and an empty priority line, consider "accidentally" walking up to the latter. You might be surprised at how often your mistake can save you time.

You may also want to apply for TSA Pre-Check or get a Global Entry card which allows travelers to go through security faster and get expedited clearance through customs. There are fees associated with applying, but there are some credit cards that reimburse the cost.

2. Get Upgraded

The check-in agents at the airport have more power than you know. If there is space in the first class cabin, they can upgrade you free of charge. Be extremely nice to the staff at the check-in counter and ask if there's food on the plane. Maybe you can't go a long time without food? Tell them this and vaguely hint that you'd like to get upgraded.

You could also try the "I've never flown first class and I've always wondered what it's like" line in a last-ditch effort to join the more comfortable business passengers.

3. Piggyback to the First Class Lounge

Every passenger in the first class lounge is allowed to have a guest. You could be that guest! Just hang out outside of the first class lounge and make a new friend just before they go through the doors. Ask them if you can be their guest and you can enjoy a wide variety of drinks and food... for free. If only you could piggyback your way into the first class cabin on the plane!

4. Use the My TSA App

Wait times can vary greatly depending on which airport you're flying out of and what time of day you're scheduled to depart. Check out the My TSA app on Apple and Android to search current wait times at many airports around the world. There's no point in showing up at the airport three hours early if the security check lines will only take you 10 minutes. Conversely, you better be there extra early if the lines are going to take forever. This app can save you a lot of time and worry.

5. Fly Private

I know what you're thinking. Private flights are only for celebrities and rewards point hoarders, but these days that just isn't true. There's a new app called JetSmarter and it's being called the Uber of air travel. Some of the flights found on the app will still be way too expensive for the average traveler, but some are much cheaper than you might expect — like a flight from Houston to Arlington on a private jet with only seven other people for $365 per person. Talk about living large on a small budget!

Fly Smarter

Recent polls have shown that people tend to hate the TSA as much as the IRS, while other polls show that passengers would be willing to pay more for their ticket just to have a more enjoyable airport experience.

This is all to say that most people are not satisfied with the challenges associated with air travel. But now you're not most people! You can utilize these tips to make your flying experience as enjoyable as possible.

You'll never fully avoid the hassle and annoyance of the TSA, security checks, and airport line-ups, but at least you can minimize their negative effects now. Enjoy!

This article is from Nick Wharton of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. This article first appeared at Wise Bread.

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