The Thanksgiving holiday isn’t only the start of shopping season, it’s unrivaled as one of the busiest travel times.
With legendary weather delays (remember the blizzard a few years ago?) and every possible flight being booked solid, the key to avoiding as much of nasty stuff as possible is to PLAN AHEAD. Start now and you will ease some of the most common headaches.
Here are my top battle-tested Thanksgiving travel tips:
Get started! If you haven’t already booked your flight for Thanksgiving, stop reading this and look at flights now! With so much consolidation in the airlines there are fewer flights and routes. The seats that are available are just going to get more expensive as we get closer to the holiday.
Pay for aisle and window.
This, one of the ugliest fees in a slew of bad ones, is especially terrible for families of four who have to shell out an extra $60each way to sit with one another. With the planes packed and the airports a mosh pit, my feeling is splurge for this one. There’s just no way you’re not getting a middle seat if you don’t.
Fly against the traffic.
Just about all of the United States is traveling at the same time. If your dates are flexible, you could both save money and avoid the peak most stressful times to fly. Sites like FareCompare.com or Expedia.com have calendars to show when the cheapest days and times are to fly to your destination. Just mark “my dates are flexible.” Or plan to fly early morning on Thursday, with a return trip on Saturday. Flying early Thursday might be tough, but the airports will be empty and hopefully there’s a mandatory post-Turkey nap policy in your family.
Leave plenty of time.
I’ve said it again and again: Panic sets in when you don’t give yourself enough lead time for crowds or unexpected problems. Because of the holiday, get to the airport AT LEAST two hours before your flight. Best case scenario? You get to really enjoy that pre-flight bloody mary. Be sure to check-in the night before so you eliminate one potentially long line.
If there was ever a time to fly nonstop, it would be now. I know that connecting flights are cheaper, but they are also the weakest link of your itinerary and will leave you vulnerable to major problems for such a short trip. If you miss your connecting flight, the chance of room on another is very slim. No one wants to eat a saran wrapped turkey club from an airport kiosk for Thanksgiving. If you have to connect, leave no less than two hours between flights.
What are your best holiday travel tips? Share in the comments!