Holiday Air Travel Tips

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With the holiday approaching, many of us will head to the airport to catch a flight to visit family or friends. In 2010, it is estimated that over 24 million people flew over the Thanksgiving holiday. Here are a few tips to help you holiday travel go a little smoother.

Plan Ahead

The biggest thing you can do to have make holiday travel less stressful is to plan ahead. This means making your travel arrangements as early as possible, including your plane tickets and any additional arrangements like airport shuttles, hotels rental cars or airport parking reservations. Also, make plans for any pet sitting or house sitting needs early, since these service providers’ schedules fill up fast during the holiday season. Don’t forget to make arrangement for mail and newspaper deliveries to be held; these hold requests can often be done on-line up to a month ahead of time.

Take the First Flight of the Day

Getting on the first flight of the day is a great way to ensure you will make it out of the airport on time. Since you aircraft will most likely already be at the airport, you are less likely to be impacted by delays at other airports. If you are not a morning person, or if you live far from the airport, consider renting a hotel room near the airport the night before your flight. Many hotels have “stay-park-fly” packages where you can get a hotel room for the night, on-site parking for the duration of your trip, and a shuttle to and from the airport. This can be a good value and make getting that first flight out a little easier.

Fly Non-Stop

While it may cost a bit more, flying non-stop to your destination, particularly if you are going cross-country, can help you avoid unnecessary delays. The more airports you have to go through, the more chance for delays.  For example, if you are flying from Florida to Los Angeles, connecting through places like Chicago or Denver, which often have weather-related delays, is a bad idea. A non-stop flight will have you breezing past these kinds of delays.

A Word about Gifts

The holidays often mean gift giving. With increased airport security and more intense screening procedures, wrapped gifts can be a problem. One way to avoid the hassle of packing the gifts is to wrap them and send them ahead of you via the post office or a private carrier such as UPS or FedEx. If you must transport the gifts with you, pack them unwrapped and plan to wrap when you arrive at your destination.

Pack Light

Packing light makes any trip easier, and holiday time is no exception. Having to navigate shuttle buses, airport corridors and baggage claim with a lot of luggage can be miserable. If you are staying with family for the holidays, see if you can do laundry while you are there. That will help you cut down on the amount of clothes you bring. Also, bring clothes that work well together and can be mixed and matched to do double duty and stretch your wardrobe.

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