A dear friend of mine hates to travel. I once asked her why and it boiled down to the stress of navigating the maze that she perceived airports to be. Having to take connecting flights left her particularly nervous. She hates getting off a plane in a strange city, reading the connecting flight screens and trying to find her next gate. She is not the only person I know who finds all of that to be stressful. I’d say that roughly half of my friends and acquaintances hate airports.
Personally, I find airports to be fun and exciting. I love people watching, sampling different restaurants, checking out art displays and shopping. Once upon a time, though, I also found airports to be intimidating. Like my friend, I really hated changing planes.
How did I make the switch from being a timid flyer to a calm, confident one? The answer is simple: Preparation. The more you know before you go, the more relaxed and confidant you will be while traveling. Preparation eliminates that unsettling feeling that being in an unfamiliar place can bring.
Before you leave, check out the web page for your home airport and any airports that you will be in during your trip. Airport maps can be a wealth of information. If you’re going to be changing planes and your gates are far apart, there might be a short-cut tunnel or a train/bus that will get you to your departure gate faster than walking the length of both terminals. Those maps also show you where the restaurants, shops and restrooms are.
There are some free phone apps that help you navigate your way through the airport. I love Ifly, both the web and the app. You can plug in your flight info and get very specific directions to your next gate. I hear GateGuru is good, although I haven’t tried that one yet.
The most useful app to download to your phone is the one that your airline provides. I am currently a Delta devotee and their app is wonderful. Before you even book a flight, download the airline app to your phone and create a personal profile. You can book flights through the app but if you booked your flight using another tool or even an agency, you can add your flight information using your reservation number. Be sure that your reservation is in the app because the tools provided will come in handy before and during your flight.
Delta’s app allows me to:
- See how many days are left until I can check in.
- Check in by phone and keep my boarding pass on my screen, eliminating the need for a paper boarding pass.
- Check my flight status and receive notifications regarding last minute delays or changes.
- Pull down up those handy airport maps. The app knows what flights I have coming up and it has those maps in queue for me.
- Track my checked bags.
- Record a parking reminder for help in finding my car when I return.
- See what movies are currently playing in-flight and download an app that provides free entertainment while in the air.
There is a lot of comfort in having all of that information at my fingertips. I am able to travel calm and confident knowing that I can find my gate, my luggage and my car simply by looking at my phone.