Tips on avoiding crowds at airports

I’m not a fan of massive groups of people.  Yet, as one who loves traveling, I have to deal with airports that are covered like anthills with thousands of people, each zooming across the campus like an emotionless robot to boarding gates, gift shops, book stores, and restaurants.   

Something strange happens to us when we enter the doors of an airport.  We transform into group-think organisms with herd mentality.  Get in line because everyone else is in line.  Carry your bags like this because everyone else is carrying their bags like this. Frown because everyone else is frowning.

Obviously, you have to get in line to get to where you’re going.  It’s unavoidable.  However, there are a few ways to limit the amount of contact you have with people at an airport by following these suggestions:

  • Print your boarding pass at  home and gate check your bag

By printing your boarding pass at home, you automatically avoid any “check-in” lines at the airport.  However, if you intend on checking a bag, you’ve just negated the value of printing your boarding pass at home.  For this reason, (so long as your bag isn’t a massive duffel bag) take your bag with you through the security line and check it at the gate. 

The very first place you should go after you’ve successfully snaked through security is your boarding gate.  Once there, ask the airline employee if they are allowing people to gate check bags.  Almost always the answer is yes.

  • Pay the $100 fee to get TSA-pre-check credentials (if you’re in the USA) 

This will speed you through the terrible security-check line experience.  If you don’t have TSA pre-check, at least be ready for an efficient pass-through by wearing slip-on shoes and being methodical in the manner you send your stuff through the conveyor belt.   Once through, quickly gather your gear and walk far away from the crowd to a quiet place to don your shoes and belt before moving on. 

  • Be the last person to board the plane

There are those who will get angry at this suggestion, but I do it all the time—and I don’t apologize for it.  I like to stand back and watch as everyone congregate like a gaggle of geese while their zones are called.  Once their zones are called, they continue to remain in a tight-group, slowly moving down the walkway and into the airplane, where, like squished sardines, they search and find their seats. 

By waiting until the very end, I avoid the masses and still find my seat without losing any flight time.

  • When booking your flight, choose a window seat and pay the extra fee for an exit row

Trust me, it’s worth it.  A window seat is the key to contactless flying.  You’ll never have to worry about someone disturbing you to visit the WC.  Which, by the way, is why you should use the WC prior to your flight and avoid the airplane WC at all costs.  Airplanes are disgusting things where germs abound.  For this reason, I always travel with disinfecting wipes.  I always wipe down my seat, head rest, arm rests, and tray prior to sitting down.  Over the years I’ve tried Melaleuca products and Huggies products to see which provides the better wipes.  Both do the trick.  It really depends if you want an eco-friendly solution or not.