I love airport hacks.
Most of these are my own experiences of years of domestic and international flying.
1. Take an empty water bottle through security
You can take it through security without issue and fill it up at a water fountain. Avoid the $5 water sold at airports.
2. Take the stairs when exiting international flights/immigration
Most people take the escalators or elevators. Most staircases are empty. I pick up my hand luggage and quickly move past 100 people slowing trundling down the escalator. This is especially useful when landing in a country that requires passport control – getting ahead of a full planeload of people makes a huge difference to wait times.
2a. This does NOT work for travelators
I’ve tested this with family and colleagues, and unless you walk amazingly fast, the travelator will get you there quicker than walking alone IF and ONLY IF you walk on it rather than just standing there. See 2. for the reason why.
3. When looking at the security screening lines, look at the people in those lines
Typically a line full of businessmen and women will move much quicker than a line of single tourists and families. The business people know all the protocols and will generally get through it quickly.
4. Count the seats to the emergency exit
Not exactly a hack, but it may save your life. When you are on the airplane, count the number of seats between you and an exit. Even with emergency lighting, people have no idea how hard it will be to see if the airplane is filled with smoke, screaming people, noise, even water perhaps. Counting the number of headrests between you and the emergency exit (in front and behind you) may just save your life.
The ultimate ‘hack’ is to climb over the seats rather than trying to escape down the aisle. People will naturally go to the aisle in an emergency. Grab your kids if they are with you, and climb over the seatbacks next to the window. Try and help others of course, but help yourself first.
Robert Fitt originally contributed this comment on Quora.