Part 2 of our travel blogs. Read our first entry on Planes here.

Welcome back! After enthralling you with adventures on planes, I’m sure you’re wondering how to spend the least amount of time in airports. The short answer: Don’t fly. The longer answer: Be very lucky and have TSA Precheck. The fact is that if you fly often, you will get stuck eventually. The key is to be prepared.

First things first, is getting off your plane. Let’s say you’re in a brand new airport for the first time. Are you in the back of the plane? Keep yourself tucked in because it usually takes 20-30 minutes for a full plane to allow you out. Well, let’s assume you’ve taken your bag out of the overhead compartment across from you and you walk out into the great unknown that is probably the far gate at an airport. You take a deep breath and enter the terminal.

The funny thing about airports is they all sort of look the same. There’s always people milling around (unless you’re landing at 1am), there’s always shops and stalls near the gates, and there’s always a long walk to get to baggage claim and to the taxis/parking lot. Some airports even have shuttles to take you to where you need to go. The key point is not to let the airport win. The airport doesn’t have to be a scary place.

As long as you’re in an English-speaking country, you’re going to find signs and pictures pointing you to where you need to go. Follow the signs. Eventually, you’ll realize that you’ve got a good half-mile walk to get to baggage claim. Airports realize this, so they also have a bunch of local art to keep you amused as you amble your way out. I’ve seen exhibits for art deco, for guitars, for ancient Chinese pottery. The art exhibits tend to run the gamut and change relatively frequently. Some airports even are the art. The below GIF is walking underneath the airport at O’Hare in Chicago. There’s a lot of pretty lights.

United terminal in ORD

All airports have some sort of art. This is the United terminal at O’Hare in Chicago

Somehow you’ve been entertained or fed enough to make it to baggage claim. If you’re a savvy traveler, you get to walk right past and get on your taxi and go because you don’t check a bag. The rest of you get to hope that the airlines decided to actually bring your bag to the right belt number and didn’t magically lose your bag like socks in a dryer.

Baggage claim

Keep watching. Your bag will eventually appear…

So you’ve survived getting out of the plane and out to baggage claim. You’ve gotten your bag and decided to skip the numerous restaurants. Congratulations! You can finally leave. Even if you’re not in a country where English is the major language, you usually can get by because pictures are worth a thousand words.

Airports aren’t always the worst. Some of them are quite nice. For example, Hong Kong International (HKG) has an IMAX theatre in it! So the next time you have to fly somewhere, rest easy because you’re now a pro.

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