Here are a dozen ways to save time or money, or just make life a little easier, the next time you head to the airport.
1. Check in online 24 hours ahead.
This allows you to bypass lines and hassle at check-in counters, and it increases your chance of switching to a better seat on the plane.
2. Carry an empty plastic water bottle.
You can refill it post-security to save having to buy one before boarding the plane. If a bottle is too bulky, there are collapsible ones.
3. Use cable ties (a.k.a. zip ties) to fasten together the zipper pulls on luggage you check.
This prevents zipper pulls from getting broken off by conveyor belts and makes it less likely that an ill-intentioned baggage handler will filch valuables from your bag.
4. Snap a smartphone photo of your parking spot in the airport garage.
It's an easy way to remember the floor/row where you parked your car—so you can find it easily when you return from your trip.
5. Snag a free luggage cart.
Avoid a luggage-cart fee by looking for a just-used cart in the transportation/pick-up area.
6. Snap a smartphone photo of your luggage before relinquishing it to the check-in agent.
If the airline loses your luggage, you'll have a photo to identify it.
7. Use the MyTSA app to suss out the shortest security line.
If you're at an airport where you have a choice between security stations, this app may tell you which station has the shortest line.
8. Carry an outlet splitter.
If there aren't enough electrical outlets at your gate for everyone to charge their devices, you can instantly make two or three more outlets available (and make two or three new friends).
9. For free Wi-Fi, sit right outside an airline club lounge.
Often the club's Wi-Fi signal is strong enough that it extends beyond the front door. If your flight is delayed, consider buying an airport-lounge day pass ($25 to $50), not just for the free Wi-Fi but for the comfy armchairs, work stations, snacks, and drinks.
10. Flight delayed? Use the GateGuru app to suss out the coolest eateries and activities in nearby concourses.
Here are the best ways to spend your connection in 10 U.S. airports. Say you're stuck at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson. Take the Plane Train to Concourse E for a top-rated culinary experience at One Flew South or to Concourse C or F for a fried peach pie at The Varsity.
11. Got even more time to kill? Find a spa.
12. Got tots you need to exercise and exhaust pre-flight?
When there's no airport play area, carry an inflatable beach ball and find an empty gate where your kids can bat it back and forth.