What to know before your next flight.

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Beach vacations, city vacations—heck, any type of vacation—might give you permission to pause the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and just relax. However, getting to your destination is anything but a breeze—especially if you’re flying. (Haven’t we all sprinted from one end of a terminal to the other in a mad dash to catch our connecting flight? Or what about being so close to accidentally leaving your laptop at the TSA security check? It happens to the best of us.)

But just because airports can be undeniably stressful doesn’t mean you can sidestep basic manners. With so much going on, following proper airport protocol can not only streamline your experience, but you can also make it easier for those around you, be it fellow travelers or airport employees. According to Mallory*, an incident management center officer at an airport, it can make an airport employee’s job a lot easier. 

“Safety is the priority, but there is always going to be internal and external pressure that passengers are not aware of for the operation,” she explains. “Imagine that a peaceful day at your job was dependent on the actions of thousands of individuals that you may only spend five minutes with. These thousands of people are of every age and experiencing every reason to travel possible.”

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That’s exactly why we tapped travel insiders to share the biggest do’s and don’ts to follow when flying. You’re just a few scrolls away from being your local airport’s MVP.

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Do: Repack Your Bag Before Every Trip

Avid travelers might find it easiest to leave their carry-on partially packed—only to add clean clothes and replenished toiletries when needed—but the pros encourage you to repack your luggage before you embark on every adventure. “You’d be surprised how inconvenient it may be to forget even just an oversized lotion—or a firearm!—in your bag from a different trip,” Mallory says. 

While you’re at it, it never hurts to brush up on luggage rules and restrictions. “There are great resources for parents traveling with children or individuals with disabilities needing accommodations as well as a full glossary of what is and is not allowed on or under the plane through security,” Mallory adds. For a good place to start, look to TSA’s official website and social media platforms for simple, straightforward directions.

Don’t: Dilly-Dally at TSA

Even if you have a membership that offers a more expedited experience, one thing’s for sure: Nobody likes spending time in an airport’s security line. So why prolong the unenjoyable for you and your fellow jetsetters by dilly-dallying? “Think through what this process will be like beforehand so you don’t hold up the process and line,” says Jennel Nodland, a flight attendant and instructor in Orange County, California.

Instead of waiting until the very last moment to pull out all of your essentials, have your boarding pass as well as your ID or passport on hand before you reach security. (You’ll also want to make sure that your electronics and toiletries are easy to remove from your bag before your belongings get scanned.) Last but certainly not least? Once your items are cleared, stack your bins to help clear the conveyor belt.

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Don’t: Yell at a TSA Officer

Whether your bag was flagged or you have to remove your shoes despite having a TSA PreCheck member, security clearance can be admittedly frustrating. However, under zero circumstances should you ever raise your voice at an airport employee. “If you think something is off, request a supervisor,” Mallory recommends. “But 98 percent of the time, the officers are following their training and [standard operating procedure].” Not only will yelling at a TSA officer create an even more tense environment—and may even result in having you reprimanded at the airport—it’s also just plain rude.

Do: Stay on Your Side of Moving Walkways

We love to stand on a moving walkway as much as the next person, but it’s not exactly a free-for-all. “If you choose to stand on the moving walkways, be sure to move and stand on the right-hand side allowing those behind you easy egress if they are choosing to walk,” Nodland says. That way, you can enjoy the lively atmosphere while others can hustle to their gate.

Airport Moving Walkway

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Don’t: Crowd the Gate

Congratulations, you made it to the gate! But now what? As excited as you might be to board your flight, Nodland encourages you to keep your distance. “Walk up when your designated boarding group is called, allowing those boarding before you space to get onto the aircraft,” she explains. Otherwise, you’ll just block others from getting on the plane, which could potentially delay the entire boarding process. (For flight attendants, that’s a huge faux pas.) Don’t worry, you can always kick back and relax in one of the airport’s many seating areas or even grab a pre-flight snack, which Nodland says is a big “do.” She says: “In case service takes a while or flight attendants are sitting for turbulence, you are set!”