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Tips for Holiday Travel

Holiday Air Travel Tips:
Don't Get Caught in a Holding Pattern

Anyone who has traveled during the holiday season knows how challenging it can be with crowds, security and possible weather delays. Being prepared is the best way to prevent what can be a very stressful situation. Here are a few holiday travel tips to help you through the chaos:

  • If at all possible, avoid traveling on the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving. These are known as the busiest travel days of the year. Also, put some distance in days before and after Xmas... the weekends before and after are not only the busiest but also most expensive.
  • Save time: Use either your smart phone or tablet to check in and get your boarding pass right on your phone. When you arrive at the airport, you can just swipe it.
  • At the airport, you can also use a kiosk to check-in. These lines move much more quickly than waiting in line for an agent at the counter. Everything is automated but there are agents to help you just in case you need them. While you can add checked luggage to your boarding pass you will have to stand in line to give it to an agent at the counter, however.

  • Arrive at the airport two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart to allow for long lines and delays. Rushing will only cause more stress and ruin your holiday.

  • Confirm your flight before heading to the airport to make sure it's on time or there have been no changes. You can also sign up on your airline's website to receive notifications in case of any changes.

  • If someone is picking you up at the airport, be sure to make plans ahead of time for a meeting point. Due to strict security at most U.S. airports, most no longer allow waiting for pick-ups at the arrival doors (these rules are strictly enforced especially if you leave your car unattended - you will get ticket and towed).

  • Check with your airlines about luggage and carry-on restrictions, especially during holiday travel. Most bags have a 50-pound limit per bag. Carry-on's are limited to one or two pieces depending on airline, and size of bags.

  • Do not wrap gifts or seal boxes. Security will open all wrapped packages. Plan to do all your wrapping when you arrive at your destination or you'll be doing it twice.

  • Do not lock your luggage. Security does random manual checks and will break your lock off if your luggage is chosen. Even if you use a TSA approved lock the agents have a master key to get into all TSA locks. If not, they will cut it off. That said, do not pack any valuables or medications in your checked-in luggage, ever. Take them onboard with you.

  • Bring plenty to do for yourself and family to keep occupied. You may be at the airport and in flight for quite some time. Consider it the gift of time, something in short supply for everyone today. Things like books, tablets, games, toys, snacks, and a deck of cards. You cannot bring drinks on a plane of any kind, not even water. Be prepared to buy drinks on board. They usually prefer credit card over cash as change is limited. And dress warm as planes can get cold. It's easier to removed layers than not have any at all.

  • Be patient. Know that traveling during the busiest time of year means security checks, long lines and delays. It's much better to be delightfully surprised that things are running smoothly than getting angry that they're not. During holiday travel, expect the unexpected. Leave plenty of time at the beginning and end of travel for delays and surprises.