It’s that time of year again. 28.5 million Americans will fly over a 12-day period around the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase of 3% last year according to Airlines for America. As the busiest days of the travel year approach, many may be feeling stressed out about flying. Fear not. Gnational Gnomad and travel expert Julia Dimon shares her tips for surviving holiday travel.
Top Tips to Surviving Holiday Travel Madness
Avoid the busiest travel days. The worst days to fly are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday. You’ll typically find the lowest-fare seats on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, when people are out looking for shopping deals. You’ll get the last laugh and save the most money when you shop online straight from the terminal!
Book a direct flight. You might spend a little more, but it’s worth it to avoid getting stuck somewhere due to weather. While connecting flights are generally cheaper, booking direct may save you hours in delays, layovers or even cancellations. (Which is priceless, to me.) Be aware of potential delays and give yourself a good buffer zone between flight connections.
Lower expectations, enjoy the experience. There will be delays, there will be crowds. It’s just the way the holiday travel season is. If you can change your mindset, you can change the experience. I try to remember that the airport experience can actually be quite relaxing, if I let it be. You’ve been given the gift of personal time. At the airport, there are no dishes to wash, no errands to run. I say, enjoy this mini vacation on the way to your vacation. Read a book you’ve been dying to dive into, listen to music or podcasts or tackle a crossword puzzle. Airport time can be a relaxing time.
Top Money-Saving Strategies For Booking Holiday Flights
Shop smart. To save money, booking your vacation as a package (which bundle hotels, flights and often car rentals), is a great way to save money. If you have a particular destination in mind, sign up for email alerts through Travelocity, for regular emails with low fares to your desired location. Follow Travelocity on social media so you’ll be the first to know about sales, promos and coupon codes. You can also rest easy knowing you’re getting the best deal with Travelocity’s price match guarantee. If you find a lower price, Travelocity will not only refund you the difference between what you paid and the lower price, but they’ll also give you a $50 credit towards your next trip.
Consider alternative airports. If you have the option, consider an alternative airport – not only to avoid the crowds, but also to save some money. For example, try John Wayne in Long Beach or Burbank instead of LAX. San Jose Mineta in Oakland instead of San Francisco. Fort Lauderdale Airport or West Palm Beach instead of Miami.
Get out of the U.S. To save money, consider going to a far-flung destination for a holiday instead of going home. During the Thanksgiving season, tickets to London, Paris and other European hot spots can often be purchased for less than the cost of a short flight within the U.S. Ditch the dishes at grandma’s house and take the whole family to Europe!
Top Travel Tips for Surviving the Airport
Give yourself enough time. Get to the airport with enough time to saunter so you’re not running around like a lunatic. You won’t feel that debilitating sense of panic if you’ve given yourself enough time to navigate traffic, security lines and baggage issues. Check in online up to 24 hours before your flight and monitor to see if there are any delays. Arriving to the airport 45 minutes earlier than normal might make a huge difference, considering security line ups and unexpected delays. If you’re driving yourself, Waze is one of the best crowdsourced traffic apps that will automatically reroute you through traffic and get you to the airport via the fastest route.
Know the rules: Visit the TSA website so you’re up-to-date on latest rules and regulations. In some airports, passengers will have to take out all of their electronic devices larger than a cell phone. Dress smart by removing all keys, coins, belts, etc. from your pockets beforehand so you’re not dragging all your metallic goodies through airport security.
Don’t wrap presents: When you’re packing, leave Christmas gifts unwrapped for airport inspection. To save money on overweight luggage, it may be worth sending presents ahead via ground transportation. Better yet, buy your presents online through Amazon and have them shipped for free directly to your vacation destination.
Splurge for the lounge: If you’re facing a really long delay or layover, splurge and pay the extra for access to the business lounge. Many of the major airlines have one-day passes (approximately $50), where you’ll have access to a variety of amenities: snacks, self-service bar, high-speed internet, newspapers, etc. To me, it’s totally worth it! For a little extra, you’ll find the seating is more comfortable and the atmosphere more relaxed. Priority Pass, which offers three levels of membership from $99 to $399 a year, gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges in over 500 cities worldwide. If you’ve got a long layover and tend to travel frequently, I’ve found the Priority Pass is a great value (membership plans start as low as $99 a year) and brings a little luxury to the long wait at the airport.
Get to know your airport: Use the app GateGuru to see what shops, restaurants and amenities are in your domestic or international airport. Some airports have a yoga room or stations to get a manicure or massage. Chicago O’Hare, for example, has a yoga room, but there’s also an 8,000 square-foot athletic club at the Hilton Hotel at the terminal where you can enjoy a steam room, sauna, lap pool Jacuzzi and workout equipment while you wait for your flight. You can also check your flight status, to see if your gate has changed or if your flight is delayed. This is an especially handy resource if you’re traveling with children. It can help you find play spaces where kiddos can run out their energy before they board the plane. For more tips with traveling with babies and young children, check out Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler.
There’s an app for that: If your flight is canceled or delayed and you need to book a new flight, most people wait at their gate or head to an airline customer service desk to get help with a new ticket. Download the mobile airline app to see if they have a rebooking feature, where you can select new flights, or reach out to the customer service team via Twitter. Download the Travelocity App so you can be the first one to book a hotel room if your flight is canceled and you need to stay overnight.
For more Travelocity travel tips, check out 18 Tips to Help you Survive The Holiday Travel Season.
Wishing you a happy, safe and stress-free travels …
Julia Dimon is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnational Gnomads, visit TravelocityGnomads.com.
Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.