It’s officially fall…well, on Friday but close enough. It’s the season of pumpkin spice everything, cooler temperatures, and chunky scarves. As each remaining leaf falls we get closer and closer to the end of the year. If you travel for the holidays, now is the time to start thinking about purchasing flights. Check out my tips to better prepare for holiday travel.
Set up alerts. There are a number of sites and apps like Kayak and Hopper that track flight costs for desired dates and make recommendations for if to buy or wait. You can watch for date ranges or specific flights and book when ready.
Avoid peak travel dates. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the most popular travel day of the year. If you can, arrive on Tuesday or the day of Thanksgiving. Departing on Friday or Saturday will be cheaper than leaving on Sunday. Traveling on Christmas Day(whether departing or returning) will be more affordable as well.
Shop around. Check multiple flight search engine sites like Priceline or Expedia for the best price, shortest flight duration, and desired departure/return times. Some airlines don’t appear in flight search engines, so visit budget airlines’ direct sites.
Consider nearby airports. If prices for your home airport are too high, consider airports within a reasonable driving distance. If there is less demand from that airport, you could snag a cheaper flight.
Book early. The best time to purchase flights for the holidays can vary from site to site. But they all agree on one thing: book early. Read about when Skyscanner recommends booking for Thanksgiving and Christmas and NYE.
Be aware of fare options. Many airlines have introduced basic fares which only permit one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag and restrict carry-on luggage. Seat selection is also unavailable. Opt for standard economy or higher for hassle free travel.
Pack wisely. Packing a carry-on allows for more expedited travel. Your luggage is more likely to be lost during popular travel times if checked. For Christmas, have gifts delivered to your destination. Just tell your friends and family not to peek.
Get a ride to the airport. Increased airport parking fees and full lots can put a damper on your trip. Take public transportation or use a rideshare service to get to the airport.
Get to the airport early. Expect longer lines for kiosks, airline counters, and security checkpoints. There’s nothing worse than running through the airport while dragging your suitcase behind you.
Be patient. Like you, everyone is anxious about getting to their destination problem free and on time. Agents are more helpful if you are polite and understanding. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.