It’s almost never too early to book your thanksgiving airline tickets. In fact, you probably should have taken care of that last week. So as you prepare for your Turkey Day travel plans, here’s some tips to keep in mind that will simplify your travel days and make your fellow travelers grateful that you’re one of few travelers that actually has it together.
1. Hire a courier service for bags. If you aren’t going to be able to go all-carry-on, make a reservation with a courier service at least three days prior to your flight. The relatively inexpensive cost outweighs the convenience of having your bags arrive at your destination before you do.
2. Check in online. Most airlines offer an online check-in service that’s available 24 hours before your departure. If you’re not checking baggage you can walk straight to the security line and bypass those insane counter check-in lines.
3. Drop off from Arrivals and vice versa. Have your driver, whether family, friend, or taxi, drop you off in arrivals and pick you up in departures. You’ll skim tons of time off your schedule and you’ll avoid typical travel frustration.
4. Fly out on Thanksgiving and/or come home Friday. You can find cheap tickets if you fly on Thanksgiving. Plus traveling is a breeze, compared to the Thursday before. Look for cheap airline tickets on the Friday after the big meal to make your life so much easier. If you take an early enough flight on Thursday you can still make it in time for the feast.
5. Don’t pack wrapped presents in your bag. You run the risk of becoming that person in the security line. Just by some boxes and wrapping paper when you get to your destination.
6. Search your bags at the luggage at carousel. It’s usually too late for the airlines to catch a personnel thief if you wait to make sure nothing was stolen from your luggage once you get to your final destination.
7. Choose neighboring airports when possible. Fly into Midway instead of O’Hare, Maryland instead of Washington International, Oakland instead of San Francisco if you want less hassle and cheap flights.
8. Bring snacks. Just like there’s no reason to no book discount airfare, there’s no reason to pay airport prices for food. You can pack a whole meal if you want in your carry-on if you want and you won’t have to worry about wasting time during your layover to get food.
9. Check on your flight’s status before leaving for the airport. Don’t spend hours of your precious holiday time sitting at the airport if you don’t have to. On busy travel days it’s common for flights to get delayed and push back your departure time, so be proactive.
10. Arrive early. Sounds too simple right? Too many people think this rule doesn’t apply to them anymore, but you never know what shenanigans you’re going to run into at the airport. Maybe the kid in front of you in the security line throws up and diverting the line takes an additional 45 minutes. It’s gross, but totally plausible.
11. Start a biding way. If the flight’s overbooked and no one is giving up their airline tickets, you are legally allowed to start your own bidding war. This only works, of course, if you have something of value to put up for bidding.
12. Take the first flight of the day. Getting up early is annoying, but you’ll be more likely to avoid delays and be able to find cheap tickets. Just remember that the earlier you get to your destination the more time you’ll have to nap before grandma asks you to help her with the green bean casserole.
13. Build in extra layover time. A lot of the discount airfare sites will offer minimal layover time. Try to manually set the time yourself on the site or call their reservation line to see if you can build in at least an hour, just in case.
14. Be prepared for security. You should know the drill by now: have your boarding pass and ID in hand, wear easily removable footwear, place all your carry-on liquids in a plastic baggy, and remove your laptop from your bag. There’s nothing more annoying than the person who takes 20 minutes at the conveyor belt because they’re not prepared.