10 tips for holiday air travel

Christmas Tree at Jacksonville International AirportI’ve traveled cross-country twice this holiday season and experienced very few delays, hassles or barriers to enjoying my travels. Air travel during the holidays doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

As TSA tightens restrictions and performs more pat-downs, you, too, can actually enjoy air travel. Here are some tips:

–          Make your reservations as far in advance as you can. You’ll have a better chance of sitting together as a family, finding your preferred seats and getting those premium direct flights.

–          Plan your travel days to fall before and after the peak travel dates. I flew Tuesday to Tuesday for a Thanksgiving holiday visit and would have been met with many more hassles if I had traveled Wednesday to Monday, as many others did. How did I know? I just checked ticket pricing.

–          Go to the airport early. You’ll be much more relaxed as you find a parking place, check your luggage and go through the TSA checkpoint.

–          Do check your luggage. It is easier to board a plane if you are not lugging two full “carry-on” pieces. Take what will fit under your seat and check the rest. It’s worth it.

–          Tis the season for gifts. Know that you may have to open gifts if you bring them through a TSA checkpoint. Checked gifts have a better chance of arriving intact. (between you and me, I would not check a high value item like a diamond ring, though!).

–          Make sure you have your medications, car keys and travel documents on your person. Just in case there might be a delay, you will have your important things with you.

–          Follow TSA Rules. If you don’t know the rules, check out the TSA website.Know the TSA rules about travel with pets

–          Take care of your health needs. If you are concerned about those sneezy passengers, make sure you have your flu shot before travel. Get plenty of rest before you travel and stay hydrated. (and that doesn’t mean cocktails).

–          Relax and enjoy your holiday trip. Most airports have decorations, some have visiting Christmas carolers and even one I know has a harpist. Take a moment to enjoy.

–          Know your “exit strategy.” Before you land, get out your car rental information, your hotel information and, if need be, know where you will board a shuttle. It’s no fun to arrive after a long trip and not have a clue about where your car rental company keeps its cars, for example.

High school chorus serenades holiday travelersSafe and happy holiday travel has so much to do with pre-planning, adequate rest and attitude. Be prepared to tolerate others who may not be so rested and stress-free as you. Extend a hand to help others, and laugh at the jokes of Southwest Airlines employees, for example. We’re all in this together! Happy Holidays from the A Concourse at Jacksonville International Airport.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

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