This summer could set a record for air travel, but packed airports don't have to put a damper on your vacation.
With low ticket fares and stable gasoline prices, more people could be taking to the skies than ever before.
Airlines are bracing for a potentially record breaking summer, with as many as 234 million passengers traveling from June 1 through Aug. 31, according to trade group Airlines for America. The previous record of 225 million passengers was set in the same period last summer.
“There’s never been a better time to fly,” David Lee, managing director of economics for Airlines for America, told Travel + Leisure. “And I say that with a straight face because if you look at trends in airfares over time, it’s really cheap relatively speaking.”
Related: 28 cheap airlines around the world
Air travel has become more accessible to a greater number of people over the past decade, as budget airlines like Spirit Airlines and Ryanair have become more well-known while offering a greater number of destinations. At the same time, as the economy has grown stronger and unemployment dropped, more people have more disposable income.
But more people traveling can also mean more stress at the airport. So before you take off on your next vacation, here are some tips to alleviate common airport headaches.
Sign up for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
Pre-Check and Global Entry give enrolled travelers access to expedited security screening, speeding up the tedious process that can take up to hours in crowded airports. TSA recommends this service for passengers who fly round-trip three or more times a year.
Since the process takes a little while, it might not help on an immediate trip, but just imagine how happy you'll be on your next trip, when you don't have to take off your shoes at airport security.
Get there (really) early
It seems like an obvious piece of advice, but giving yourself extra time to go through security and get settled is especially important when the rush of summer travel hits. Plan to arrive two hours in advance for domestic flights, and three hours ahead for international flights, and relax when you'd otherwise be rushing.
Be ready for new security guidelines
The TSA is testing out new security screening measures that require passengers to remove all electronics larger than a phone from their carry-on bags before going through security. While the measures are still in a testing phase, if the TSA decides to expand the measures, they will be put in place in time for summer. Pack appropriately.
Get some help from technology
Apps for everything from finding free Wi-Fi to getting access to a lounge can make your summer travel experience relaxing from start to finish.
Traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday is not only historically cheaper on domestic fares, but it can also save passengers time in the airport as it is a less popular time to travel than over the weekend.