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How to Make the Most of Your Airport

Family at Airport


Today’s airport is much more than the building where you check-in, board an aircraft, and retrieve your luggage. It is not uncommon for large airports to offer a variety of services and shops that can enhance not only your comfort, but they add convenience (save you money and time) and address the safety of everyone.

When you travel with a companion who has used the airport before, you have an experienced guide to help you navigate services that might make your journey easier.

My favorite service recently has been the Wi-Fi and electrical charging areas at various airports. And I love the interactive map that the San Francisco Airport (SFO) has on its website.

The most important thing you can do for yourself (or you can recommend to parents visiting the USA for the first time) is to spend a few minutes reading about the services that your airports offer (departure and arrival) and where the services are located in the terminal(s). Services vary greatly from airport to airport.

For example, the Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), the international airport closest to me, offers many services.

For enhanced comfort

Many airports offer:

  • Lounge areas equipped with electrical charging outlets and comfortable seats.
  • Special assistance for seniors and child passengers.
  • State-of-the-art restrooms with eco-friendly amenities.
  • Child care rooms.
  • Prayer and meditation rooms.
  • Art galleries and special exhibits so you or your family can spend time together before your flight.
  • Smoking areas.
  • Water dispensers after the security screening area so you can fill up a water bottle for your flight.

For enhanced convenience

When you enter an airport you might be able use services other than those for travel:

  • Mail items at an on-site post office.
  • Update your trip status on the TripCompanion app, check your e-mail, or book a shuttle at your destination using the airport’s guest Wi-Fi services.
    Note: Always use the airport’s official Wi-Fi services.
  • Purchase international phone SIM cards at a discount.
  • Withdraw some money from a bank or ATM.
  • Exchange currency.
    Note: Airport foreign exchange rates are not usually the best, so change only enough money to get you by until you can get to a bank. Read more
  • Do some shopping. Duty-free shopping  is available after the security gates and you might want to eat something or fill up a water bottle before your flight.
  • Some airports offer free massage chairs to help you to relax; others charge a fee.

Find out more about the airports you will use

Many major international airports have information desks or help phones to help you get information when you are there.

For enhanced safety

Your actions and vigilance help keep you safe at an airport (or anywhere else). Thousands and tens of thousands of people are in an airport all at the same time. Airports take your safety seriously:

  • Ask you to report all safety concerns to airport security personnel and use the security phones for emergencies. From the airport’s website you can find out which courtesy phones to use for medical emergencies and what number to dial.
  • Require security screening of all passengers.
  • Provide wheelchair transportation from check-in until boarding. To ensure that a wheelchair is available at the time you need it, let the airline know about your need at the time you book your tickets.
  • Offer medical services at a medical center or first aid station. Often automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are located throughout airports.
  • Make overhead announcements that help cue you to emergency information and flight/boarding changes.
  • Record and review video surveillance footage.

My favorite service at my nearest international airport

Tell TripCompanion about your favorite service offered at your nearest international airport. Help us by writing the name of the airport and the service on the TripCompanion Facebook page.

Fly Confident!