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Holiday Flying Without the Stress

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Tips for a trouble-free airport experience

Whether a last-minute blizzard threatens to cancel your family get-together or that heavy, gift-filled luggage is costing you extra fees, holiday flying can be a nightmare. Fortunately, however, there are things you can do to prepare for, and maybe even avoid, airport chaos this season.

  1. Good timing can save you money: The folks at know a thing or two about getting a good deal on airfare. Since airline ticket prices skyrocket during the holiday season, especially around Christmas, knowing when to book your flight can help you save money and avoid stress. co-founder Rick Seaney first recommends being flexible on your holiday travel dates if possible; fly before December 17 and you'll likely save hundreds. Seaney also notes that since overweight bags can cost you lots of money, consider shipping gifts instead of packing them.
  2. Pack your presents wisely: For those bringing gifts onboard, Alaska Airlines reminds passengers to refrain from wrapping gifts, since all carry-on items are subject to inspection. Wrap all presents after you arrive at your destination, or they may be unwrapped at a security checkpoint. Also keep in mind that the Transportation Security Administration's rules apply to gifts as well, so food items such as jams and syrups will not be allowed through checkpoints unless they are in containers three ounces or less and in one quart zip-top bags.
  3. Prepare for Delays and Cancellations: Since many regions across the United States enjoy snow-filled holidays, it's always a good idea to have a game plan in case your flight is delayed or canceled. Chicago Tribune writer Ross Werland offers some tips, courtesy of
    • For up-to-date, accurate information, call your airline to check the status of your flight if the weather looks questionable on either end of your itinerary. Remember to also check conditions in cities where you are scheduled to make connections.
    • If your flight is canceled, get in line immediately to begin the process of rebooking the next available flight. Have your airline's toll-free phone number on hand. If you carry a cell phone, you can call the airline while you're waiting in line and often get rerouted on a new flight before you reach the head of the line. If possible, be flexible with your travel plans. You may be able to get to your destination or home sooner if you fly into a different, nearby airport.

Being prepared for holiday flying can help you avoid traveling stress. With some common sense and pre-trip planning, your holidays will be filled with only the happiest of memories.

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