Airport guide 101: Christmas & New Year’s holiday travel

Travelling this winter holiday season?

Here’s the inside scoop from on what you need to know about travelling during the holidays this year.

Tips for booking your winter holidays: For every other time of the year, it’s not a bad idea to wait for a last-minute deal.  Holiday season, however, is the exception as flights and hotels book up quickly and choices are narrowed, so don’t wait too long – we suggest booking two months before or more – if you’re looking for “last minute” sunny destinations.  Read our article on  Tips on Booking All Inclusive Vacations for more.

Holiday SeasonWorst times to go to the airport:  Based on this year’s calendar, avoid travelling the weekend of December 18-20, 2009 – the weekend before Christmas is always one of the busiest days. Similarly, avoid travelling from December 24-27, 2009 since it’s peak travel time.  December 31, 2009 to January 1, 2010 will be the busiest travel weekend of the year, since everyone will be returning home from holidays.

Best times to go to the airport: Travelling earlier during the week is always cheaper than on the weekend.  If you are flexible with time, try booking your holidays 2-3 weeks before Christmas.  Try to book your departure/return on the Monday or Tuesday after to save yourself from rushing and to avoid cranky kids and crankier parents. Travelling on Christmas Eve, Christmas, or New Years’ Eve could also help you avoid crowds since many travellers don’t want to travel on these days.

Secrets to getting through airport security:  First, make sure you have all your documents and forms on hand at all times.  Second, make sure your carry-on luggage is within restricted liquid limits.  Third, dress in easily removable clothing and shoes so you can more quickly get through security. Read more on these tips and others in Secrets to Getting Through Airport Security.

Avoid delays by booking direct flights, choosing a reliable airline, and travelling earlier in the day.  If you’re looking to save money, connecting flights can be an option but try to avoid airports in winter climates to minimize any additional delays.

Save time & money with carry-on luggage and checking in online: Consider bringing carry-on luggage only.  This way, you can check-in online and print your boarding passes at home before going to the airport.  This will save you lining up to check-in at the airport, save you on check-in baggage fees, and let you head straight to the airport security line.  You’ll also save the headache of lost luggage. 

Arrive to the airport early: During holiday season, it’s a good idea to arrive earlier than usual. Getting to the airport early is one of the best ways you can avoid long lineups, risk being late for your flight, or getting bumped from an overbooked flight.  Arriving early also allows you to ask for complimentary upgrades before they get filled up. 

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