Have fun at the airport

TAKING a holiday should be one of life's most enjoyable experiences. But making it through check-in and Customs to holiday heaven - stress-free - can be a challenge in itself.

Airports don't have to be the bane of travel.

With a little preparation you can get away painlessly, and even make the airport an enjoyable part of your holiday.

"Airports can be like mini-cities with a wealth of shops, restaurants, services, lounges and more - Sydney Airport alone has over 650 businesses - so during busy times, they can be quite hectic for visitors," Travelscene American Express general manager David Padman said.

"For Australians, spending time in airports is becoming more and more regular, either as a traveller, a welcomer or a fareweller.

"Mix this in with lengthy stopovers and a tired family, and you could run into trouble.

"But here's the good news. Many airports around the world are making significant upgrades to streamline and improve the experience with better facilities including gyms, showers, and movie theatres, better customer service, more shops and restaurants, streamlined securities, wi-fi and more.

"And, as we're all slowly preparing for the big end-of-year break, we also have a few tricks up our sleeve to manage airport madness."

Ask about your options

Got kids and a layover? Don't hesitate to ask airport employees to direct you to facilities you may not know were there, such as a play area or massage centre. It pays to ask.

Treat yourself to a lounge

If you are not a regular flyer, you can sometimes pay for a one-off visit to an airline lounge. Enjoy the afternoon with snacks and treats away from the bustle of the main terminals.

Load up your devices

Fill up your mobile, tablet or laptop with movies, e-books and games before you leave, and don't forget to pack extra batteries and chargers.

Exercise duty-free caution

While it may look too good to be true, not everything is a bargain in duty-free shops. Also, it pays to check if there are any restrictions on goods in the country you're flying to.

Be prepared

As they say in Scouts, be prepared by always double checking your itinerary for your airline's baggage requirements before leaving home, and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport.

Know your airport's codes

Handy to know so you can quickly reference your bag tags, and where your flight is on the departures board.

Relax a little and play

If you've got kids, they may just be mesmerised by the sheer size of the airport, so making up games while watching people and planes can be a hoot.

What are you hints for surviving the airport? Leave a comment below.

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