Getting together with your loved ones is at the center of the holidays. For many, this means traveling, but whether it’s a 30-minute flight or a full day of traveling, the holiday season can be one of the busiest times to travel. In fact, Hopper is anticipating a very busy Thanksgiving and Christmas traveling season as roughly half of Americans are planning to travel for one or both holidays. As a seasoned pilot and fellow traveler, I want to share my top 5 holiday traveling tips with you.
One of the most frustrating components of traveling is the potential, and often expectation, of delays. It is an aspect that is challenging for pilots and their crew members. It is not a question of if it will happen, only when it will happen. Many environmental factors, such as turbulent weather or even natural disasters like wildfires, create delays and cancellations entirely out of anyone’s control. However, cultivating the right mindset for anticipated delays will help ease your worries without the shock or surprise of a delayed flight.
Lower airfares on holidays can be tempting, but there is one reality that may have you question those prices. I’ll be the first to admit that many senior-level pilots and crewmembers schedule time off for the actual holidays. As a result, expect the least experienced staff to fly you, which could alter your flight experience or result in further delays.
Just as you research your holiday destination, be sure to educate yourself on your rights as a passenger. To do so, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation to learn more and print a copy of your rights to keep with you for your travels. Please note that the passenger rights do not surpass the operational safety and security measures. However, understanding your rights ahead of time helps.
Just as there are many uncertainties with travel, you should accommodate your trips with additional time. Leaving early, even by a day or two, alleviates the pressure of last-minute changes, especially when it comes to flying. You may also want to consider coordinating alternative modes of transportation. For instance, if your flight gets canceled and you have less than five hundred miles or so to travel, planning for a rental car and driving to your destination could be more convenient and affordable than waiting for an alternative flight.
Of course, I could not leave you with more insight than the reminder to be patient. The flight crews and airport staff understand you want to arrive at your destination most efficiently and safely as possible. In my experience, I can affirm your crew members are just as anxious to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones as you are. If you find yourself nearing your wit’s end, take a moment to take a deep breath and remember that we are all one step closer to enjoying the holidays.
The holiday season can be stressful, but hopefully, this insight will allow you to better prepare for one of the busiest travel periods. You can safely journey to your loved ones and enjoy all your year-end traditions by creating a proper plan, creating an alternative, and staying calm. May you all have safe and delightful travels this holiday season.