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Navigating Holiday Travel: How to Get Through the Airport Faster
Yes, it is possible to get through the airport stress-free during the holidays! Find out how to ahead to ensure that you (and your luggage) arrive at your destination on time—and in high spirits.
by: Angie Orth, Editor-in-Chief at AngieAway.com
Holiday travel isn’t for the faint of heart, especially if you’re departing by plane. Between overbooked flights, weather delays and the quality of the overall aviation experience, trying to get from A to B during the winter months can present a few serious challenges! While we can’t always avoid air travel during peak periods, we can do our best to make it a little less stressful. Follow these tips to ensure that you make it home safe, sound—and in a festive mood—during the holidays.
Check-in online Any extra time you save by skipping the snaking lines at departures will help you stay that much calmer at the airport—especially since the holiday lines tend to be longer and may be full of folks who perhaps don’t travel as frequently or as efficiently as you.
Before you leave for the airport, ensure you have all the necessary documents by putting your driver’s license or passport, credit card and boarding pass in an easily accessibly spot in your personal carry-on. This will ensure you don’t forget anything and you won’t waste a moment rummaging for these items in line.
Ship luggage and gifts in advance You’ll save yourself heaps of hassle and extra bag fees if you ship gifts and even luggage ahead of time using FedExGround or UPS. Then you can skip the line to check your bag and head straight for security. Believe it or not, it can be significantly cheaper to ship boxes than to pay for extra baggage costs. If you must bring gifts along, don’t wrap them. TSA may insist on opening them causing you delays at the airport and the hassle of having to rewrap upon arrival anyway.
Arrive early! Really, really early While you can usually show up about an hour before a domestic flight and catch it with no problem, the holiday travel season is a whole other ballgame. Wiggle room is the key to dealing with the ups and downs of peak season travel, so be sure to allow an extra hour or two on your way out the door. You may have some downtime at the airport if you manage to make it through security quickly, so stock your gadgets with new movies, books and TV shows and enjoy the extra time!
Breeze through security. Once you’re in line for security, use the waiting time to think about all the things you’ll need to do when it’s your turn at the front, like removing shoes, layers of winter clothing, belts, jewelry, etc. Is your phone in your pocket? Do you have a laptop that needs to be placed in its own bin? A checkpoint friendly backpack has a butterfly-style opening that makes going through TSA a breeze. Is there a forgotten bottle of water lurking ominously in your carry-on bag? Check out a carry-on bag with easy to access external pockets for quick grab or easy stash. When you make it to the front of the line, you’ll be ready to zoom through without delay.
And remember how George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air knew just the right type of traveler to follow into the security line to ensure a quick passage through the metal detectors? When it’s your turn to choose a line, find the one with the fewest kids and the most business travelers.
Expect delays It’ll be a holiday miracle indeed if you don’t have any delays, so program your airline’s reservations number into your phone in advance. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you can quickly get on the phone and rebook – often much faster than everyone from your flight now queuing up at the cancellation desk.
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