6 tips to make your holiday travel easier

A lot can happen while traveling during the holidays — and usually that stems from winter storms impacting your travel plans. Delays build up across air travel networks, and before long, you find yourself stuck in an airport without a plane.

What can you do to prevent that added stress? Let’s take a look.

Fly in the morning

When you wake up in the morning, you’re starting off a fresh day without the chaos of your day changing your plans, right? Same goes for air travel. That, and weather delays generally occur towards the afternoon rather than in the morning.

Since the first flights of the day either happen or they don’t – they’re not usually delayed – this is often your best bet. Coupled with that early flight being as close to your destination as possible, you’re more likely to get to where you want to go with the least amount of fuss by taking early morning flights.

Know your options

This can get a little tricky because there are a million ways to get from Point A to Point B. But it never hurts to know what other options are available for you. Most airlines still have a timetable of their flights available somewhere on their web site. If you know this, you can be more knowledgeable to airline staff or to the reservation desk.

Also, make sure you’re aware of your rights as a ticket-holding passenger. You may be entitled to cash if you’re bumped. Airlines will often try to give you a voucher for future air travel (it costs them little) instead of cash (it costs them…cash), but stick to your guns if that fits your needs. Lifehacker has a good write-up on that.

If your flight gets cancelled, call – don’t go to the desk

As soon as it’s announced that a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, people flock to customer service desks or to the gate agents – and that line can grow enormous. That’s not to say that waiting on hold won’t be shorter, but you won’t be standing in line, and you won’t be dealing with overworked agents who are desperately trying to rebook 150 other passengers.

Know your airline’s reservations number – and if you have status with an airline, know the number for those desks as they will sometimes be faster.

Don’t check bags

If you have to suddenly switch flights, there’s a good chance your bags won’t make it. If at all possible, take everything you’re traveling with as carryon – or at least take it through security and gate-check your bag (often free). It’s not always possible, but if you do have to check bags, check the bags with stuff you might not need right away. And always, always, always bring medication or keys or anything else of significant importance with you on the plane.

Be patient, Be kind

Nobody likes being yelled at or screamed at – so why would you do it to a ticket agent who has no control of the weather or mechanical problems? You’ve probably heard this a million times, but the best way to get what you want is to be kind. The agents you speak with are more likely to be compassionate if you can get them to sympathize with your plight – not wish you weren’t there.

Bring Chocolate

I’ve learned from personal experience that bringing some good chocolate along with you on your trip can make even the unhappiest of customer service agents or flight attendants a little happier. Seriously.

 

You can’t always get what you want — but if you’re prepared and have a little knowledge and little chocolate with you, sometimes things can happen in your favor. Just remember, it’s not the flight attendant’s fault your aircraft breaks down, or your flight is delayed because of weather.