Of all the travel times of the year, the busiest by far is the Thanksgiving holiday followed by the Christmas and New Years holiday breaks. Countless people fly to and from their holiday destinations during these peak times and that means airports, planes, and roads are packed and there is a lot that can happen to make your flight less than enjoyable. Here are ten tips to help you have a safer and less stressful flight this holiday season, no matter where it is you are going!
1. Avoid peak travel dates.
The day before Thanksgiving and the day leading up to Christmas Eve are some of the busiest, so avoid traveling on those days if you can. Many airlines offer special discounts and perks for travellers who choose to fly on the actual holiday rather than the day before. Also, be mindful of your return flights as 1-2 days after a major holiday are often the busiest for flights back home.
For many travellers, price isn’t the only or even the most important factor, especially during the holidays. Thoughtful searches of other airports can yield great deals. By opting to travel to an airport that is an extra 30 minutes away from your primary airport you could save hundreds of dollars in your ticket costs!
3. Know your airports.
Check to see what airports are in your area. Chances are there are more than the one major one everyone seems to know about and use. Keep in mind that smaller airports see fewer flights and, typically, fewer delays — not a minor consideration during the busy holiday travel season.
4. Plot connections carefully.
Avoiding really tight connections might save you a sprint through the terminal or a missed flight. It is worth having an extra hour minimum for a layover to avoid missing a flight and being stuck for 3 or more hours waiting for the next flight!
5. Leave for the airport early.
You may want to all that you can to leave for the airport early and to make sure you make a conscious effort to anticipate all the peripheral delays you may encounter. Road work, traffic, lines at the ticket counter, and the dreaded security line can all cause delays that can make you miss your flight. It is far better to get through everything and be waiting at your gate an hour early than to be rushed and to miss your flight entirely because you didn’t plan for probably delays.
6. Pack wisely.
When packing, keep in mind that most airlines charge additional fees for checked luggage and for bags over a certain weight. Also, keep in mind the TSA regulations for liquids and gels. Be sure to call your airline ahead of tie to double check what the regulations are for checked and carry on bags to avoid a hassle and additional fees when you get to the airport.
7. Take advantage of shortcuts.
The latest self-service developments in online travel can be tremendous time-savers during peak travel times. Also look into transport services to get you to the airport so you do not have to deal with the hassle of the parking garage or getting stuck in traffic behind an accident. Whenever possible, print your boarding passes at home or pull up your boarding pass on your smartphone.
8. Travel early or late in the day.
The busiest times for flights are during ‘normal waking hours’ when people are usually up and active. In most cases, you can save money by taking flights that leave early in the AM hours or later in the evening. A good reference to start checking prices with is between the hours of 8PM and 6AM.
9. Consider package deals.
You can save a lot of money by bundling your travel arrangements. You could save hundreds on package deals for flight and car rentals for your holiday travels. Peak travel periods can be the best time to buy package deals (such as air/hotel or air/hotel/car), even for folks who would normally never buy one, as the bundled pricing offered by packages can be very competitive. This is especially true during the holidays when airlines know people will be flying and want to get as many travellers as possible to book flights with them rather than their competition.
10. Keep your cool.
Don’t lose your temper, even if things go wrong. There are three general types of airline employees you are likely to encounter- ones who want to help you, ones who really don’t care, and ones who will use their power against you. And unfortunately, none of these appreciate being yelled at, threatened, ridiculed, or mistreated. So, stay calm and cool and make the best of whatever happens to you on your flights!
Industry trade group Airlines for America offered this projection last year for flier volumes for the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday: “the Sunday after Turkey Day—November 26—to be the busiest of all with an estimated 2.88 million people taking to the skies. Fewer passengers are expected the following Monday and Tuesday.
A record 28.5 million people will fly on U.S. airlines between Friday, November 17 and Tuesday, November 28, according to the organization’s estimates. That’s an increase of 69,000 passengers—or 3%—from last year” (Fortune). And these numbers are expected to be even higher this year in 2018. So start planning thins now, take these tips to heart, and do everything you can to make the most of your flights this holiday season!