Last Updated on January 21, 2014 by Amanda Stancati
It’s November 8 and the holiday sentiment has already nestled its way well into our minds. Starbucks’ notorious red cups, holiday tunes on the radio, party invites, and the launch of our Home for the Holidays contest indicate that the holidays are near. If you’re making your way to see the family, here are some tips for holiday air travel to keep you jolly throughout the whole process! We can’t make any promises for the family dinner though…(just kidding, you’ll be fine!)
If you haven’t booked your flight already, book now. While this is an infamously busy time for many, those looking to book air travel have an extra something to add to their to-do list. It’s ideal to book a minimum of 90-120 days ahead of time during peak holiday travel, but most holiday travel is booked even 6-12 months in advance. So for those who have yet to book, now is the time!
Be flexible with dates and times. While it’s rare you’ll find cheap flights during this time of year, being flexible with your flying schedule will give you more options. Christmas day and New Year’s day fall in the middle of the week this year, so peak days for travel aren’t as obvious. Flying on these days might save you money, while flying on the weekends will be more expensive.
Consider alternate airports. It may be less expensive and less hectic to fly from smaller airports, even if they are a little further away. Driving an extra hour may save you a couple hundred dollars or give you more seat availability. Other factors such as parking, nearby hotels, and traffic can make a difference in choosing an airport.
Be wary of bad weather. While connecting flights may result in cheaper flights, be sure to choose a stopover city that is less likely to be affected by weather delays. Know if your flight is cancelled or delayed by checking airline web-sites, twitter feeds, and travel apps often.
Pack light. Avoid fees for checked bags by using a carry-on only. Don’t wrap gifts in case they need to be unwrapped during the customs process. Carry expensive items like jewellery in your carry-on. You may want to consider shipping gifts ahead of time or shopping for gifts at your destination so you’ll have less to carry.
Pre-select your seats. Planes will fill up fast so seat selection is important if you want to sit together with your group. Choose your seat when you purchase your tickets. It may come at a cost, but it’s definitely worth it.
Arrive early. Line ups for check-in and customs will be long. Consider staying at an airport hotel the night before departure so you aren’t affected by traffic delays or weather conditions.
You may also review our Airport Check-In Guide closer to your departure date to ensure you have everything covered!