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It’s the time of year airline holiday greetings spread across the globe. – Image: All Nippon Airways

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.

Security during the Holiday Season can be a mad house... make sure you allow extra time - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Security during the holidays can be a mad house… make sure you allow extra time.

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.

A Common Site during the winter months... getting deiced - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

A familiar sight during the winter months… getting deiced

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.

Sometimes you wonder if you will ever see your bag again... especially during winter weather - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Sometimes you wonder if you will ever see your bag again… especially during winter weather.

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!
  • @AirlineFlyerHope 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.”

Passengers in Seattle seemed to have a harder time getting the Southwest boarding process than those in Denver or Tampa

Don’t be “that guy” who acts entitled at the airport during this time of year.  If you’re calm, cool, & collected, you’ll have a better travel experience.                  Photo: David Parker Brown

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!

This story was written by one or more of our AirlineReporter staff members. Email us: staff@airlinereporter.com

Ultimate Airport Dubai Goes Behind The Scenes at DXB

Be nice, polite, courteous to the airline counter teams, GAs, and FAs too. They are just doing their jobs, and if you are nice, they can be “nice” right back in very pleasant ways…

TJ Johnson

Flight Cancelled? Help the airline and create a solution. It works especially well if traveling alone. Use technology – online or a telephone – and immediately book a full fare seat ( that does not require immediate payment) in your cabin of service or if not available, the next level up on the same airline. When you finally do get to speak to a person you will be able to say that “I have a reservation on your flight X and if you can endorse my ticket for that flight…..” More times than not an agent will appreciate your assistance, and make the change without hassle or fees.

The best advice I can give is, if you can POSSIBLY swing it, don’t check a bag. Never, never, never. Get little bottles and take them in a carry-on bag.

When there are weather problems or mechanical issues, if you have checked a bag, you are chained to that airplane. If it sits there for 4 hours while 2 others go where you were going, you will be waiting, because it’s a pain in the behind for the airline to go get your bag.

There have been many occasions where my plane has been sitting at the gate waiting for information, either from maintenance or for a connecting crew or something, and I found that another flight is available if I move right now. If I had checked my bag it’s a no go. Travel light, and be flexible. Have a backup plan.

A few weeks ago there was a nasty ice storm in Dallas, and the airport was messed up for several days. I was supposed to fly back in from Denver to DFW on a Sunday, leaving at 10 AM. That flight was delayed and then canceled, and I was reset for the next morning. Rather than wait, and rather than risk another cancellation, I moved over to Southwest Airlines, through Tulsa to Dallas Love Field. Got a rent car and dropped it at DFW.

AA canceled my flight the next morning as well. Had I stayed with them because I had checked bags, I would have not gotten home til Tuesday afternoon, with no bags all that time anyway.

Be flexible, have a backup plan, and don’t check anything.

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