In these DIY travel times (book online, print out your own ticket, lug your own bag – or wheel it, at least), you also need to be prepared before hitting the airport.
Travel pros know that working through the right pre-flight checks makes for a smooth take-off for passengers as well as pilots.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Check-in online
Seriously, this really does save time. Even if you have check-on bags, you just have to drop them off – that queue is always shorter. With luck, in no time you’ll be through security and drifting around the duty free, or enjoying a pre-flight drink.
2. Charge everything
Charge all your devices: Smartphone, tablet, laptop, camera battery, toothbrush, whatever.
Take a portable power bank (with a generous battery capacity) so you have extra backup when you’re not near a power point. Choose one with at least two USB ports and charge it before you leave home.
3. Take your cables and adaptors
Pack all your cables in a plastic ziplock bag so you can see what you’ve got, and put them in your carry-on. Take a double adaptor for faster charging of devices at airports and hotels. Take an international adaptor if you’re travelling overseas.
Invest in a “universal” adaptor that will work on your stopover in Asia, when you get to Europe and in New York on the way home. The best ones have pins that push in and clip closed. Choose adaptors that have USB ports as well – you can charge more devices at once.
4. Plug in
Pack your headphones; high-end noise-cancelling headphones if you have them but even the cheaper, well-cushioned earphones can help block noise and make movie-watching and music- listening more comfortable.
Check with your airline if you need a one to two-pin headphone adaptor (I know! One more bit of kit).
5. Get the app
Download your airline’s app so that you can check-in, get flight updates and alerts when you’re on the move.
6. Prepare to be entertained
Most airlines are moving away from backseat screens for inflight entertainment.
For example, on most Qantas domestic flights to watch movies and TV shows you need the Qantas Entertainment App, plus your own device (tablet or smartphone), though some flights have spare iPads. You need the Virgin Entertainment App to stream entertainment on some Virgin domestic services.
On many low-cost airlines, taking your own device is essential for onboard entertainment. On Scoot, with your own device and the ScooTV App, you can stream more than 100 movies – although, in economy, that will cost about $US11 ($A15.50).
Check with your airline if you can stream content on your flight (it varies) and download any apps before you leave home – or you’ll be reading the inflight magazine. A lot.
Another option is to download movies and podcasts before flying so you can catch up on things you’ve been wanting to see or hear. It beats watching endless sub-par TV reruns.
7. Copy that
Copy flight documents, passport, itinerary, visas and insurance forms and leave a copy with someone else.
Save a copy to your mobile and email the documents to yourself (encrypted is best) or store in Dropbox or similar so you can access them from anywhere.
8. Pack snacks
Particularly if you’re on a budget carrier, or have a long layover, a few reserves such as nuts or biscuits and cheese will keep you going.
Take an empty water bottle to refill. The cost of food and water at airports is crazy.
9. Weigh, measure – and maybe toss
Flying budget? Check the dimensions and weight of your bag before going to the airport. Seven, or even 10, kilograms of carry-on is not much.
Buy a luggage scale. If your bag’s overweight, toss stuff out, or get online and pay for check-in luggage before you get to the airport.
10. Don’t forget!
Check you have your passport with you – and off you go.