Still Buying Headphones at the Airport? Here are 10 Common Airport Mistakes To Avoid

Family walking through airport passageway


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Family walking through airport passageway

Flying Faux Pas

There’s almost nothing good about going to the airport. Between TSA agents, security checkpoints, and carry-on bag restrictions, there are always about 1,000 things that can go wrong.

So why make things worse with careless blunders? Here are 10 mistakes at the airport that you might be making.

Airport check-in counter employee attaching tag on luggage

Checking Your Bag Anywhere Besides the Gate

Standing in a long baggage line at the front of an airport is among the worst things in life. What’s great is that you can usually skip it — just wait for the narcs at your gate to tell you it’s too big, and boom, they’ll check it for you right there.

Earbuds or Headphones
Olga Popova/shutterstock

Paying for Headphones

Almost every single airline will give you these for free. You may need a dongle, but there’s no reason to pay airport prices for headphones.

A woman at the airport holding a passport with a boarding pass

Carrying Just One Type of Boarding Pass

There are lots of arguments for and against electronic and paper boarding passes, but both have their flaws. Paper passes can get lost and crumpled easily, but they also can’t run out of batteries. Electronic boarding passes are super convenient, but maybe you don’t know where your phone is and now you’re holding up the line. Grab one of each.

Girl in bed using phone

Avoiding Airline Apps

It’s always worth having the airline’s app downloaded, as this is the most convenient source of flight info you can get. Apps will let you know about flight delays, cancellations, and gate changes, while also providing an electronic boarding pass. This comes in handy for certain airlines that gatekeep their boarding passes and don’t allow syncing to Apple Wallet.

Related: Terminal Temptations: 8 Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport

Bag check-in area at EWR
Heather Berzak
TSA officer
Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Ignoring TSA PreCheck

Airport security lines are hell. It’s a fact of life. TSA PreCheck feels like an elite-level, premium service, but it’s actually only $78 for five years. That’s less than $1.50 a month. It does require an in-person appointment, but it feels worth it. In fact, I’m gonna sign up right now.

Related: Ways to Get Through TSA Airport Security Faster

Ricardo 2-Piece Luggage Costco

Packing the Wrong Things in a Checked Bag

You might already know the drill with lithium batteries, but don’t forget that there are more reasons to stick stuff in your carry-on luggage than just safety. Bags often get lost, and if you’ve got something like medication or an important wedding gift stored in there, there’s a chance you won’t be seeing it for some time. Don’t risk it.

Related: The Weirdest Things You Can Buy From Others' Unclaimed Baggage

Airport cafe
airport restaurant

Eating Anywhere Except Directly in Front of Your Gate

If you can't bring your own food, you might be forced to spring for airport prices. The bad news gets worse, because changes and delays happen at a moment’s notice in the airport, and you want to be as close to your gate agents as possible. See that lonely TGI Friday’s bar across from your gate? Bad news, buddy. That’s where you belong now.

Businesswoman running late in office

Not Giving Yourself Ample Time

Apparently, there are people in the world unlike myself. People who, when faced with the sad knowledge that they have to go to the airport, do not spiral into a panic. People who do not have crippling I’m-going-to-miss-my-flight-and-also-every-other-flight-I-ever-take anxiety. 

A lot of these people think that it’s silly to get to the airport two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours early for an international. I am not one of those people, and for this reason, I have never been late to a flight. There’s always plenty of time on my side. Get there early.

(OK, look, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I did miss a flight once, but I slept through my alarm and woke up in my bed about five hours after I was supposed to land. So, it’s less that was “late” to the flight, and more that I “didn’t attend the flight at all.”)

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