Why Are Airports So Stressful? (+ How To Stay Calm)


Most people don’t enjoy being at airports and find them stressful. But why is that, and what can you do to stay calm at an airport?

Airports are so stressful because many passengers are scared of flying or fear they’ll miss their flights. Long lines, confusing signage, and large crowds can also overwhelm them. To stay calm, arrive early, ensure you have the correct documents, and travel at off-peak times. 

In this article, I’ll go over all the major reasons people feel stressed out in an airport. Following that, I’ll share some tips and tricks to help you stay calmer and composed as you get ready to board your flight.

Top 5 Airport Stress Factors

Here’s a look at the main reasons that make airports stressful places:

  • Fear of missing their flight.
  • Airports are huge, busy, and confusing.
  • Long lines at security and boarding gates.
  • Fear of flying.
  • Uncomfortable departure lounges.

Below we’ll explain in-depth why airports are so stressful:

Fear of Missing Their Flight

Many passengers worry that they’re going to miss their flights, especially if they get delayed in traffic on the way to the airport or experience unexpectedly long lines at the check-in desk or security. 

Underestimating the airport’s size and how long it’ll take to get to the boarding gate can also increase stress levels. 

Other passenger concerns are flight delays that can mess up their travel plans. 

Airports Are Huge, Busy, and Confusing

Navigating through the airport can be an incredibly stressful experience. 

Airports are full of signs, but they’re sometimes confusing, and passengers often need to ask for help or directions. 

The airport’s large and bustling crowds create a hyped-up atmosphere that can make you feel anxious.  

Long Lines at Security and Boarding Gates

Long lines at security and boarding gates are frustrating and tedious, but passengers also worry that they may have inadvertently left a prohibited item in their bag. 

If you’re being reprimanded by a TSA official for not being quick enough or having a banned item in your bag, it can be highly stressful. The same is true in the boarding line, and a common worry is having to check in your hand luggage because it’s too large.  

If you easily feel claustrophobic, the long lines can make you feel anxious.

Fear of Flying

Fear of flying, also known as Aerophobia, is a recognized psychological condition. As per studies, around 25 million US adults have Aerophobia, where they become highly stressed and can even suffer from severe panic attacks when flying on a plane. Thankfully, the fear can be effectively managed and brought under control with psychotherapy.

Uncomfortable Departure Lounges

Departure lounges are basic and have limited and uncomfortable seating. 

No one enjoys trying to find a place to sit down and be calm when there are so many people milling around you and no seats available near your gate. 

If you have a long wait for your flight, being uncomfortable for an extended period can make you feel stressed. 

How Do I Stay Calm at the Airport?

Most stressors at airports are unavoidable, but thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to stay calm.

Here are some tips and tricks you can follow to stay calm at the airport: 

  • Leave plenty of time before your flight. 
  • Consider paying for an airport lounge.
  • Travel at off-peak times.
  • Be organized before arriving.
  • Consider applying for TSA PreCheck.
  • Remember that flying is very safe.

I’ll discuss how to stay calm at the airport in more detail below:

Leave Plenty of Time Before Your Flight

To avoid feeling stressed because you’re worried about making your flight, arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Make sure to leave early and also calculate the time you’ll be stuck in traffic. 

With time in hand before your flight takes off, you won’t easily feel stressed or overwhelmed even if there are long lines or crowded terminals.

Consider Paying for an Airport Lounge

Airport lounges aren’t open to the public but if you pay their fee or have a credit card that gives you access to one, they could help you feel less stressed. 

Such lounges typically have fewer people, can be luxurious, and are much quieter than the terminal, which can help you to feel more relaxed at the airport. 

Travel at Off-Peak Times

If the airport’s large crowds stress you out the most, you might consider traveling during off-peak times when it’s quieter. 

One piece of advice would be to plan your vacations during the off-seasons. That way, you won’t encounter as many people in the airport. 

Also, most people attend flights typically during the day. As such, try to book your flight either late at night or early in the morning to avoid crowds.

Be Organized Before Arriving

Nothing is more stressful than realizing that you’ve forgotten your passport, another essential document, or something at home. 

You may feel calmer if you know that you’re organized and haven’t forgotten anything. 

Check that you have the following before leaving for the airport: 

  • Passport and visas. As the most important documents, ensure that your passport and visas haven’t expired and have been packed. 
  • Boarding pass. Most airlines allow you to check-in online 24 hours before flying and print your boarding pass at home, saving you time and hassle at the airport.
  • Other important items. Consider creating a packing list a few days before you depart and then checking the items off as you pack so that you don’t forget anything. 

Consider Applying for TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck allows low-risk travelers to use a separate and shorter line at airport security. The security screening process is quicker as TSA PreCheck travelers don’t have to remove their shoes, belts, or liquids from their bags. 

This service is available at most American airports and is typically only for international travel. 

By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, you can have a calmer and more enjoyable airport experience.

Remember That Flying Is Very Safe

If you’re afraid of flying, reminding yourself that air travel is one of the safest travel modes can help allay your fears and make the airport a less stressful place. 

According to IATA, for every 4.2 million flights, there’s only one fatal accident, and air travel is becoming safer as each year passes. 

Conclusion

Most people find airports stressful as there are large crowds and long lines, and it can be challenging navigating through the terminal. 

You can make being at the airport a less stressful experience by arriving in good time before your flight and ensuring you have all the necessary documents. 

It may be worth checking if you’re eligible for access to an airport lounge as these are calmer places than the terminal. 

Traveling at off-peak times or obtaining a TSA PreCheck pass can also help you feel calmer at the airport.

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