We're in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year to travel (almost 100 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more during this year's holidays), and we're here to give you a few helpful tips and reminders of what to do and not to do... when headed to the airport this winter.
Check the Weather
Meteorologists are already predicting a Christmas Eve storm that will mess with holiday travel. Weather delays do not have to be compensated by the airlines per their passenger rights rules, so keep that in mind when booking travel and before you head to the airport. If there is a colossal snow storm that grounds planes at a major hub like Chicago or New York, and you haven't left home yet, don't. You'll be better off getting on the phone on your couch and calling the airline.
Use FlightAware to access the best customer service lines (and be sure to use your elite lines if you have status).
Traveling light is always my go-to move. Checking bags means delays at your arrival destination, even if the bags arrive on time, making your family continue to circle the airport until your bags are in hand. And, with all the bags cycling through airports this time of year, there's a greater chance of your bags getting lost.
Know Your Airport
Knowing where your gate is can save you time in case of delays. USA Today put out a great infographic with tips for the nation's busiest airports this week, including food, free wifi, and what the Uber policies are for getting to and from the airport!
Fly Early (or on Christmas)
I like to fly in a day or two early into my hometown if my schedule allows. It gives me more time with family, and I can avoid the rush the holiday season brings. My favorite "hack," though, is to fly on Christmas Day itself. You'll be greeted with an empty airport, happy employees (really- they're earning double that day), and some airlines like Southwest will even give you a free drink!
US News suggests some in-flight exercises for those long flights, and I couldn't agree more. Also, eating right this time of year will reduce stress from delays, and help fight off any pesky sicknesses some of your fellow passengers might be carrying.
Remember to charge your phone! Plugs will be occupied at the airport when you get there, so charge at home! And, think about bringing along a portable charger, which you can pick up at Best Buy before you fly. You can't call an Uber from a dead smartphone!
Skip the Lines
Sign up for TSA Pre-Check (or better yet, get Global Entry free with your Amex Platinum card). You'll keep your shoes on, your laptop in your bag, and be through security in minutes (sometimes seconds).
Any tips you have to share? We want to hear them below in the comments!