Holiday flights: if the thought of holiday travel makes your blood pressure boil, then you’re not alone. Holiday air travel is definitely a challenge. The crowds, the high prices, and the weather combined may create a challenging travel experience.
How to Avoid the Worst Things About Holiday Flights
By reviewing these tips, you can significantly reduce the stress and hassle of holiday flights.
The days leading up to and following winter holidays are among the busiest of the year. Whether you’re waiting at security, for the bathroom, or to board the plane, you’re likely to find a long, slow-moving line.
Advance planning and flexibility will be your best friend in the fight against holiday crowd fatigue. If you can, book your travel for one of the less busy holiday air travel days. For Thanksgiving flights, that may mean traveling on Thanksgiving—or the day after. For Christmas flights and travel during New Year’s, try to avoid December 22 through 24, December 29, and January 2. This will help you escape the worst of the crowds as well as the highest prices.
If you can’t avoid the busiest days for your holiday flights, be prepared to be patient. There will be waits (though if you have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you can skip the worst of the security backup), but everyone may share your frustration so remember that everying that you’re all in this together.
Do you want to save some money? Then concentrate on two things: when you book and when you fly. Unlike other times of year, when you can sometimes book a cheaper flight by waiting until the last minute to book, holiday flights tend to get more expensive the closer you are to the travel date. This year, you should plan to book by the end of October for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s travel.
The real trick to finding more affordable holiday airfare, though, is to travel on lower-demand travel days. Booking off-peak days can yield fares up to three times less than peak holiday travel dates. For Thanksgiving flights, avoid the days leading up to the holiday and the weekend after, and instead opt to travel on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. For Christmas flights and New Year’s travel, the trick this year will be to avoid December 22 through 24, December 29, and January 2.
The ideal situation is to take direct, nonstop holiday flights both to and from your destination. Adding connecting flights seriously increases your chance of delays and cancellations. At a time of year when you must factor in crowded flights and potentially bad weather, you want to minimize the number of legs to any journey.
If you just can’t get around multiple flight legs, try to connect through airports less likely to be impacted by winter storms. Instead of connecting through Denver, for instance, opt for Houston. You can’t predict the weather, and even at airports with decent weather you may be impacted by delays at other airports, but you can at least try to steer clear of blizzards. And to minimize your chance of delays, book early-morning flights, before the airline and the airport have had much time to compound delays.
Being in close quarters—in the security line, waiting to board, and in the confined space of the airplane cabin—exposes you to the germs of your fellow passengers. No one wants to arrive at their destination sick, so it’s worth taking extra steps to try to avoid germs while traveling.
Before you travel, make sure to get enough sleep and stay hydrated to keep your immune system strong. If you’re not trying to get overhead bin space, consider waiting until there’s no line before boarding the plane to minimize exposure to ill passengers. When you do find your seat, wipe down the armrests, tray table (including the latch), and any touchscreens with a sanitizing wipe. Consider not sitting on the aisle, since that exposes you to more of your fellow passengers’ germs. Keep your air vent open and blowing air slightly in front of your face. And of course, wash your hands with warm water and soap every chance you get.
Bonus: Know Your Rights
From compensation in the event of flight cancellations to food and bathroom access if you find yourself waiting out a tarmac delay, you have rights as an airline passenger. Airline personnel aren’t always forthcoming about your rights, though, so it’s up to you to know what to expect—and ask for. You can download and print an Air-Passenger Rights fold-up card and pop it in your travel wallet. You’ll be prepared and informed if your holiday flights don’t go exactly as planned.
Do you like these tips? Contact Colesville Travel for more tips or for a no- obligation quote on a trip of your dreams.
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