The holidays around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s can be some of the toughest traveling times of the year. The airports are packed, and the threat of winter weather can make things even more difficult. Everyone can be trying to get someplace, and it can create a lot of stress and frustration with heightened emotions.
Of course, despite the possible pitfalls of flying during the holidays, you may not have an option, or it may be better than the alternative. As an example, if you were to travel by car, you would need to be aware that people are more likely to have an accident when driving on a holiday weekend than other times of year.
So, if flying is your only option or the best option for you, the following are some things to keep in mind to survive it and make it more manageable.
Give Yourself Flexibility When You Book
There’s a chance no matter the time of year that your flight might get delayed or even canceled, so keep this in mind as you’re planning and booking your flights.
Try to book a day or so ahead of when you really need to be at your destination, and rather than booking late night flights, you might want to look for early morning options. If you book an early morning flight and it gets delayed or canceled, there are more rebooking options than there will be towards the end of the day.
Additionally, when you’re booking your flights try to avoid the peak days. For example, the day before Thanksgiving is a peak day, but maybe you leave first thing on Thanksgiving morning if that’s an option. Flying on actual holidays will mean fewer crowds and shorter lines.
From the start, when you’re booking holiday travel, try to have a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C.
Avoid Layovers If Possible
If you’re planning your flights and you have the option between a flight with a layover and one without, it’s better to go with the direct flight. It may be more expensive, but when there isn’t a connection, or there is just one connection, it reduces the likelihood of something going wrong with scheduling.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time at the Airport
It seems like it would go without saying, but inevitably if you’re traveling over the holidays, you may find yourself pressed for time.
If you give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check-in, you’re minimizing your risk of certain things going wrong. Plus, even if other people around you seem to have tempers that are flaring, it’ll be easier for you to keep yours under control if you have plenty of time.
Security lines will be long, and everything will be crowded—that’s an unavoidable fact of holiday travel.
Give yourself at least a couple of hours before your flight to get to the airport get checked in, and sort everything out.
Download the Airline’s App
The best thing you can do for yourself is ensuring that you have the app for the airline you’ll be flying on your phone, that you have your flight information in the app and that you have your phone charger with you in case your battery goes low.
The airline’s app is an amazing way to avoid a lot of difficult situations that might have been much less unavoidable a few years ago.
For example, you can check the status of your flight, so you aren’t running to the gate for a flight that’s delayed. You can keep a check-up on any delays that are happening, and usually, airline apps will offer the opportunity to check for new flights if your flight is delayed or canceled.
Treat People Well
Finally, while you can’t control the actions of other people, you can control your own actions. During the holidays, when people are in airports and on planes, they may be more stressed and perhaps aggressive than they would be otherwise, but don’t let that affect your behavior. Avoid potentially contentious situations.
When it comes to people who work at the airport and especially airline staff, treat them well too. You don’t know how your scheduled flight is going to go, and they will have some leeway if you need help, but if you’ve already treated them poorly you’re much less likely to get a favor.
Everyone is just trying to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones, so keep that in mind during your airline travel this year.