I kind of enjoy airports, good thing I spend a lot of time in them. 45 flights this year by the time this posts. Airports can be unpleasant places. Airports can be crowded, busy, you are not in control. A few tips.
Sign up for Pre-Check, in fact if you ever travel internationally sign up for Global Entry. This not a guarantee that you will never have your hands swabbed, or be delayed by someone who does not know how to go through security without stopping the process, but it does reduce the risk.
Arrive at the airport two hours before flight time, three hours before an international flight. It sounds like a long time, but it gives you a buffer for things going wrong and they will go wrong. This year I have been saved by being early twice. At National Airport there are 4 concourses, each with its own security check. I assumed one morning that gate 34 would be across from gate 35, I know where gate 35 is, cleared security and then realized I was on the wrong concourse. Being early I was able to move to the right concourse with time to spare. Coming back from south Florida, I messed up my departure time, by an hour. Being what I thought was two hours early, I was still an hour before flight time and all was well. If I had planned to be there one hour before flight time, I would have missed the flight.
Things go wrong at airports, a few years ago in Paris, the shuttle from the hotel to the terminal was slow, then delayed in traffic, then check in stopped when a baggage machine jammed. The plane was boarding by the time I made it to the gate, three and a half hours after leaving the onsite hotel. Being early will save you.
If all goes well, and you have plenty of time, stop and have a nice meal in the airport. There is little food on planes these days, and you don't want to get hangry when you are traveling.
Check your bag. Carry on bags create a hasle for everyone. If the airline is gate checking carry on bags for free, take advantage of it. They are doing that because the bags will not all fit in the overhead bins.
If you are delayed or have a long wait, splurge - spend the $50 and check into the airline private club or lounge. The seating is more comfortable, the space is more private, the WiFi is better, there are snacks and drinks. I do this 2-3 times a year, not enough to spend the $500 a year the airlines want for unlimited access, but well worth it when I have 3 or 4 hours between flights.
What is your airport tip?