I grew up between Taipei and Los Angeles. Between attending an international school and having parents with itchy feet, I travelled a lot. Suffice it to say, I feel that I have become quite good at navigating the airport.
Coming to Minerva has only increased my experience with relocating, and this time learning how to carry my whole life with me. I have replaced the small suitcase and mostly empty backpack from my high school days with a huge duffel and a hiking bag.
The key to hacking your way through an airport is intentionality. Everything you do must have a reason, if you know why you are waiting, that is fine, otherwise you end up a sucker waiting in line wondering why you are standing with all your luggage worried about being late. There are seven things I have personally paid attention to and I think you should too.
1. What airline?
Option 1: Pricey, but long-term gain
This question begs another question. Are you really super strapped for money or not? Accruing mileage can be quite rewarding and can make travel much more comfortable despite flights being more expensive. (If you are not this person and are strapped for money go to the next paragraph). By this I mean flying an airline that provides much better service for longer flights. This tends to be just 10-20% more expensive. If you can afford this, stick to an airline and ball out on the miles you will earn at Minerva. “Oh! But what if Air ____ doesn’t fly here”. Good question. I would recommended looking at airlines that are in a mileage group such as Star Alliance or One World. Do a little research as to which you would like.
Option 2: Affordable
There are always cheap flights. Really sketchy, don’t-know-your-seat-till-you-get-to-the-gate type of flights. Secret flying, Priceline, Momondo are your best friends. For this I would recommend always getting insurance because your ticket will not be very secure and thus if it is cancelled you don’t lose all your money.
When travelling with Minerva I would recommend wearing the most heavy, space-occupying clothes you have while flying. This way you have more space in the plane and you can also rock a Macklemore look on the tropical airlines (#extraordinary).
If you somehow have space, remember intentionality. Personally I like sweats because there’s no belt and I have pockets. Furthermore I wear long socks in case my feet get cold, etc. Think about your own needs. Remember security can be a bitch, so avoid metal attire.
3. Carry-on Baggage
This is free storage, for all the scrooges out there, this is where you walk the borderline of what is allowed, in order to maximize what you can bring to wherever it is you are going. One trick is to use other little bags or duty free bags to increase your carrying capacity. Don’t overdo it with a huge backpack which you may be forced to check-in.
4. Check-in Baggage
I really only have two things to say about this. Use something unique that no one else will mistake for at baggage claim. And at Minerva you won’t have a lot of space so a big chunky Rimowa is not smart. I use a duffel that I can collapse and store wherever I stay (downside being I have to carry it #nowheels).
5. Lining-up (or queuing for the people still under the dominion of a Queen.)
Research has shown that people, generally right-handed, tend to favor lines on the right thus you should go left (Frost would be proud, and so would your patience). Furthermore, it is statistically faster to go to the farthest most lines on the edges. This being said, it is still wise to use some common sense. If I see a stroller or people with a lot of random stuff, I tend not to go in those lines. Businesspersons are swift and usually carry lightweight luggage due to their travel fatigue. Use your intuition.
6. Airport Timing
You’ll always want to speed up the process by checking in the day before and, prior to your departure, check for possible delays. I would recommend taking Red-Eye flights (board super late and arrive early in the morning). These are oftentimes cheaper and less crowded.
When it comes to boarding, there is absolutely no need to rush the line, get in the line when your zone is called or even towards the end. The only reason you would rush is if you have a lot of carry-on. In that case, rush as early as you can. You may have to stand for a while but the leg room you gain will be worth it.
Sit closer to the wing and away from the head and tail if you don’t like turbulence (and try not to fly in the afternoons, which usually equates to more turbulence).
These are my two cents. Go out there, try them out, and make your own hacks that work just for you! Good luck.