Surviving airports

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 Have you ever felt confused and lost when arriving in an airport? I have. Even while working as a flight attendant, I was often hesitant about where to go and how to find the services I needed. One of the most important tips I have is: know your airport’s map, especially if you have a long layover.

When I cared to do my research ahead of time, I discovered that every airport has a website full of useful information and chief among them is a map or diagram. You can see the airport transportation system, local and regional bus or train connections, information kiosks, food stands, the medical office, the post office vending machine or box, a spa, airline lounges, airport security, taxi and limo parking, etc. Some international airports even have small play areas for children. Don’t forget about uber drop-off points which can also be uber pick-up points given that many airports don’t allow uber drivers to take business away from the taxi companies so they prevent them from using the taxi lanes for pick-up.

The best way to find the amenities is to explore the airport yourself. After all, walking is better than sitting down in an uncomfortable airport chair for hours, after which you’ll also be sitting down on the plane for hours. So, get up and walk.

One of the discoveries I’m proud of is a SIM/phone card kiosk. You always see at least one in Arrivals, but there’s usually a line or they don’t have much variety. People fly in on international flights, get through Customs and then try to call family and friends. There are lots of international calling plans nowadays and phone companies try to make them look as appealing to you as possible while making them as profitable to them as possible. Many people get off a plane and buy a SIM card because local rates are usually lower than any international rates their provider offers. Hence, the line in front of the SIM card kiosk in Arrivals. However, most of the time you can find another kiosk, just like this, but in Departures, and no one is crowding to buy SIM cards there. Why? Because they're departing, as in leaving the country. They'll have no need for a local SIM card anymore so this kiosk doesn't have as much business as the one in Arrivals.

By now you probably know about taking an empty bottle of water through security so you can fill it up inside, bundling all your electronics together so you can pull them out easily, packing things in ziploc bags for convenience, carrying the extra charger for your phone/laptop, layering clothes on when your baggage is overstuffed and carrying sanitizing wipes.

This next one is a luxury, although it’s only slightly more expensive than the price of a dinner in the airport or out in the city. The airport lounge or your airline’s lounge may be accessed if you pay a fee, even if you’re not a frequent flyer, a business/first-class ticket holder, an airline corporate employee or any other eligible category. In some airports you may gain access to the lounge by paying somewhere between $40-$70. All you have to do is check if a lounge is available and the requirements for entry. You can ask for the service when you talk to an agent or go directly to the lounge after check-in and pay at the door. Sometimes you can book online. So just do your research, enjoy your airport stay and then: bon voyage!