We are in the thick of the holiday travel season right now, and with Christmas fast approaching it is going to get even busier. Traveling at this time of year can be a real challenge. Weather, crowds, high prices, and even-higher load factors can make travel a headache.
When you add delays, the stress of getting away for a vacation, or travel to see family (which can be either cherished or dreaded), things can get rough. We at Airline Reporter wanted to share some of our favorite tips and tips from readers who travel quite often.
When booking and preparing for your travel, allow plenty of time. Okay, so we admit that this is one of those “duh” suggestions that everyone and their mom will give you, but sometimes even elite fliers need a reminder.
Like most of us, you probably have the system down. You know exactly when you need to leave your house, to get through your preferred security line and whisk onto the plane. You have perfected your system and know how to use it, but the problem is you are working with a difficult level of passengers during the holiday; the newbie flyer.
There are quite a few people around the world who only fly over the holidays. They will be asking all the questions, not know the rules, take forever to get through security and slow down the boarding process. Of course do not get angry at these people — we have all been there at one time. The best thing to do is if you see someone struggling, give them a hand and talk them through the process. It will end up speeding you and everyone else through and it never hurts to be nice.
One of the biggest problems while traveling during this season can be struggling with winter weather. The biggest tip we can give for weather delays is to be patient. It’s a hard thing to say and to expect everyone to remember, but patience is a virtue. If your flight is cancelled or you miss your flight, what do you do?
While you can leave it up to the airline to get you to your destination, don’t always expect them to be able to do it best. Even if your situation gets frustrating, remember to be nice. A smile can really go a long way with having people help you out of a bad situation.
We reached out to our writers and to some of you to find out what your best tips/hints are for flying:
- @bigmalx: Use all the resources available to you, via the web, your phone, or even social media to find available flights. You can also set up a flight monitoring assistance ahead of time for a nominal fee; Cranky Concierge is our favorite, run by fellow AvGeek Brett Snyder, and provides on-the-fly assistance for any flight hiccups for only $45 roundtrip (for up to four people).
- @ARdpb: If your flight gets cancelled, instead of waiting in a long line, check to see if you are able to pay a day fee for lounge access. There are dedicated staff to help you and you have a place to relax while waiting for your new flight. Also, I love technology, but it often goes wrong and I suggest keeping a paper copy of your boarding pass handy.
- @bnickeson: Plan for the kids: as an adult in a delay situation, you can probably whittle away the time in an airport bar, watching football. Kids aren’t so easy. Make sure you have entertainment for them – iPads work great, but make sure you have chargers for them. Also, if your kid needs a blanket or stuffed animal to rest, make sure you keep that in your carry on. Holiday travel with children is about keeping your kids contained while entertained.
- @WanderngAramean: Patience and a smile gets you a LOT further than frustrated yelling. Airline employees are people…
- @JetSetCD: Volunteer to give up a seat on an overbooked flight for a $$$ travel voucher (if plans are flexible). I did it today!
- @AirlineFlyer: Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Know you airlines fees before you get to the airport, and get there early!
- @SterlingTravelr: be aware of alternative flights. Gate agents don’t always know so you knowing helps them re-ticket/reroute you
- @JohnBolka: If your flight gets canceled, don’t take your anger out on the gate agent. They don’t control the weather!
- @tmount: If you’re flying alone but a family is flying but separate seats, do the nice thing and offer your seat. Its the holidays.
- @flyingwithfish: plan three alt flights. book flight to get bumped. do not connect through ORD [Chicago].
- @spl1011: Bring earplugs. But remember to take them off during a conversation as not to shout. stay hydrated. Remember to tell the flight crew you appreciate their hard work. Many will miss the holidays so you don’t have to.
- @BLGranucci: be as informed as you can. Airline and other smartphone apps can make a world of difference to your flying experience.
- @markjohnson319: do ur homework. Check weather at departure, connection, destination. Be prepared in case wx forces u to reroute.
- @hobbseltoff: If interested in wi-fi, check on carrier’s website, often less than price on plane.
Or if it is too much to handle, take @BrandCustodian’s advice and, “Avoid air travel at all cost.”
Remember the holidays are supposed to be a fun part of the year (at least this is what they keep telling us). Try to have a sense of humor about flying and enjoy yourself a bit. Everyone wants to be with their families and friends, and with the modern age we can get where we need to go fairly simply and quickly. So even though you may have to deal with unpleasant situations along the way, take a deep breath, think a few seconds, and then look at what is around you.
Take in the sights, take a sip of your drink, and just relax. At the other end of that flight is your destination and happiness (or maybe despair; we are talking about families) awaits you.
Happy Holidays and be sure to share other tips you might have in the comments!