Smarter thinking: airport travel hacks for a smoother journey

As the world becomes more connected and the time we spend on flights increases, it’s only natural that we spend longer trying to make our journey efficient.

Whether it’s a stress-free arrival or our desire to never be without gadgets, our need for comfort is spawning a whole industry that claims to make your airport travel easy. Whether you’re travelling for work or pleasure, it’s smarter thinking to work out the best way to improve your travel experiences.

With a number of upcoming flights on my schedule this year, I decided to test a few out.

Arriving refreshed at the airport. With early morning flights often considerably cheaper, it sometimes works to stay nearby the night before. But when you’re only there for a few hours I often feel that I’m wasting my stay in a decent room.

Enter YotelAir, a Japanese inspired mini-hotel located inside Heathrow’s Terminal 4 where you can stay for just four hours or a whole night both before and after travelling. You can also earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles if you book with Yotel. I was loving my compact comfy bed with flatscreen TV complete with rainforest shower – and not to mention free hot drinks from reception. Despite my bulky luggage everything else in the room had a specific purpose, from a fold out table to the potential for a double bed. What’s not to love? 

Yotel Hotel

Once I arrived fresh for my early morning check-in I decided to put my hoody on and continue with the chill vibe. Only this hoody had a difference, I had bought it from Amazon especially for its 10 integrated pockets that stored my purse, passport, tablet and phone charger with ease. It was comfy with finger holes and a full hood that covered my eyes, but it was very heavy. And with the humidity of the airport and the plane, I often found that I had to take it off or risk overheating, which was worrying with the amount of valuables I had inside it. Still, it was more than handy for going through customs – if only I could remember which pocket my passport was in!

Once on the plane and with no comfy First Class for me, I emptied my bag of ‘flight essentials’ that had been recommended via spookily correct Facebook algorithms. The first was a neck rest called Trtl Pillow that had a built-in brace. I fancied this more than a neck cushion as for someone with quite a short neck I always find those sold in airport shops uncomfortable and bulky. It took some wrapping and re-wrapping to get into a good position but it was easy to move during the night and I managed to get some sleep.

Flying back, I decided to test out a miniature foot hammock that I could hang over the seat tray to lift my legs. At 5’6 I’m neither long nor short, but being able to rest my feet made the journey so much more comfortable and I felt like I had changed position just by shifting my feet. Definitely my top find – and cheapest too!

Foot hammock
Foot hammock

Alongside this was an inflatable cushion that I could rest my head and arms inside which combined with my noise cancellation Libratone earphones featuring Q-Adapt (amazing for dulling the plane noise around you as they come with three settings) worked an absolutely treat. My joy was short lived however, as the cushion required the seat tray to provide a flat surface and when your seat mate in front of you reclines there is just not enough room for you all to fit comfortably. And so I had to pack it away via its handy rapid deflating button.

Inflatable travel pillow
Inflatable travel pillow

Finally, whether it’s a long-haul flight or short haul, if shopping isn’t your thing then I would always suggest investing in a lounge pass to while away a few hours at the airport. You can often get them included with bank accounts or discounted via online travel sites and if you’re a semi-frequent flier (around three times a year) they’re a good investment. Peace and quiet, nibbles, free wi-fi and the ability to download my favourite series ready for the long flight ahead are always worth it in my opinion.

A spokesperson from Virgin Atlantic says: “Our Clubhouses are our luxurious private airport lounges, located in many of our destinations around the world. They are stylish, peaceful spaces designed to allow you to relax before your flight, away from the bustle of the main airport. Whether you want to toast your journey with a cocktail, enjoy a relaxing massage, or find a quiet spot to get some work done, our Clubhouses have a space to suit.”

Whatever tools you use to help make your airport travel easy, make sure that they are light and easy to move or pack away, otherwise it might just be best to leave them at home.


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