Flying at Christmas can be quite a trial. Hordes of happy people flock to the airport, heading off on trips to see their loved ones or just to get away for a while.
Since everywhere is filled with once a year travellers, it usually means there are delays, frustration and more. It is also winter in the Northern Hemisphere and weather can play havoc with the whole experience too. How do you minimise the problems?
Drop Off Your Baggage The Night Before
A surprising number of airlines allow you to check-in your baggage the night before you fly and I certainly had no idea it was so prevalent. This is a god send if you are travelling as a family with children or just have a lot of bags.
Someone can go and check the bags in the night before and when it’s time to go flying you can arrive at the airport with just your light carry on items. Your airline or airport web site should tell you if this service is available where you are.
Ask About An Airport Upgrade
There is a thing called an airport upgrade, which is where you ask at the check-in desk to upgrade your ticket to the next highest class. This is different from asking for a free upgrade – in this case you pay.
Airlines frequently sell upgrades at check-in at a price that is within reach of a lot of people and far less than the rack rate. The extra comfort, better treatment on board, generally delicious food and the Champagne make these very worthwhile.
Avoid the long snaking queue at the airport security desk and buy fast-track security if it is available at your airport. For a small fee, you get to whiz straight through screening while everyone else waits in the slow lane.
It may be called something else where you are from, but check your airport’s web site and find out. Fees are usually as little as a few dollars so it is well worth it to save some time.
Beg, Borrow or Steal Some Lounge Access
An excellent way to avoid the throng in the terminal before flying is to get lounge access. If you already have it thanks to being a frequent flyer or having a credit card that includes it, all the better. Those without it can opt to pay.
Prices for lounge access are quite reasonable, usually in the €15 to €30 price range. This is great as in most lounges you get decent food, free drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, fast and free WiFi and most importantly peace and quiet. A worthwhile investment, I feel!
Plan Your Boarding Strategy
After security screening, boarding is the most painful part in the whole process of flying. My advice is to plan your strategy ahead of time to save yourself any stress.
If you are concerned about your carry on baggage, get to the gate a little bit before the time on your boarding pass. As soon as boarding is announced, beeline for the scanners to avoid being at the back of the queue.
Once on board the aircraft, get to your seat swiftly and stow your cabin baggage. Of course, one thing that is very important is to have a bit of manners and be prepared. For example, having your coat already off and any items you may need in flight already in your hand will save time and are the hallmark of a pro flyer.
Step in from the aisle so others can get past you. Essentially you should not be that person who holds up the whole process and makes everyone else unhappy, so I suggest checking out this handy guide as to proper flying etiquette.
At this point, you should be flying to your destination and looking forward to your trip. By doing a little research and deciding what is important to you or what bothers you, you can really remove much of the hassle from the whole experience.
Everyone deserves to have a good travel experience so keep that in mind when flying at Christmas. Do you have any tips that you use to remove the burden of holiday season travel? I’d love to hear them!
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada via Wikimedia Commons.