Travel

5 Hacks That Make Layovers at Airports Less Torturous

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Joanne Poh

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There are some very seedy airports in the world, and you only realise this when you’re forced to sleep on the cold, hard floor of one of them, praying the 6 hours before your flight will go by without your being robbed or groped.

Well, you can’t expect every airport to be Changi Airport, can you? Here are 5 hacks that will help you survive the best and the worst airports in the most comfortable way possible.

 

Use a credit card that gets you free lounge access

If you’ve never stepped into an airport lounge, I assure you that they can turn the most uncomfortable airport stay into a pleasant experience. For starters, airport lounges give you a free flow of food and drinks, wifi, computer terminals, and sometimes even reclining chairs where you can take a snooze and shower facilities.

The cheapest way to worm your way into airport lounges is to sign up for credit cards that give you free access, usually but not always in exchange for booking your tickets on them. Here are some options:

  • American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card – Each year, receive four complimentary passes to the SATS Premier Lounges in Singapore and any Plaza Premium Lounges around the world.
  • Maybank Horizon Platinum Visa – Get complimentary access to selected VIP airport lounges in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong when you spend at least $400 on air tickets/travel packages in one transaction within 3 months of your travel date.
  • ANZ Travel Visa Signature – Receive unlimited access to Veloce VIP airport lounges all over the world without even having to make any purchases on the card.

 

If you have a layover, ask the airline for freebies

It seemed like a good idea at the time to shave $300 off your air ticket price by selecting the flight with a 6 hour layover.

But when you roll off your first flight completely exhausted and realise the airport you’re stuck at is more chaotic than a Raffles Place food court during lunchtime, it takes all your willpower not to pay $50 for 3 hours in one of the airport’s sleep pods.

If you’ve on a layover, rock up to the airline counter and ask if you can get hold of any freebies before your next flight. If you’re lucky you might gain lounge access, meal vouchers, drinks or even a free hotel stay (phone ahead to be sure).

 

If you have to sleep at the airport, bring a foldable yoga mat or beach towel

In a worst case scenario, you might find yourself having no choice but to catch a few hours of sleep at the airport. Before you curl up miserably in a corner of the departure hall, check the airport’s website, browse the Sleeping in Airports website, and ask the information counter to see if there are any reclining chairs or sleep pods you can use for free. For instance, at Changi Airport there are snooze lounges in the transit area of all three terminals.

Once in a while, in a truly crappy airport, you’ll realise you have no choice but to lie down on the cold, hard floor or risk your brain cells dying from lack of sleep. If you anticipate any chances of that happening, bring a big beach towel or a yoga mat to lie down on, as well as socks and a jacket to keep yourself warm in. Even if you slept on the floor in the army, airport floors are a different beast—they’re usually freezing, so you’ll want an insulating layer in between the ground and your brittle bones.

 

Bring foldable carry on bags in case your luggage is overweight

If you’ve got check-in luggage, never leave home without some foldable carry-on bags. These can be simple canvas tote bags or flimsy foldable backpacks. In the event that your luggage is overweight, you’ll be able to offload some of your stuff into your carry-on bags in order to avoid excess baggage charges.

I always pack one or two large cotton tote bags when I travel and have managed to offload close to 10kg of excess baggage into them.

 

Always bring a water bottle

Long distance travel is tiring stuff, and you’re going to feel a lot worse if you’re dehydrated and discover you’d have to pay the equivalent of 4 SGD for a bottle of water at the airport—if you had any currency on you, that is.

Always bring a water bottle with you if you have to spend any time at all in airports—a collapsible one like those from Vapur takes up the least space. Just empty the water bottle before you go through the baggage inspection, and refill on the plane or at water cooler stations once you’re through.

How do you make your time at airports more comfortable? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.