Think the only way to avoid an airport meltdown during the holidays is to stay home? Fear not, it is possible to snag a cheap flight during the holidays, breeze through long airport lines, keep the kids happy during the entire flight, and not lose your cool (or dignity) in security.
We asked an air travel expert, Mark Drusch, Chief Supplier Relations Officer for CheapOair.com, to reveal his secrets for flying through the airport during the holidays. With over 20 years of experience in executive airline roles, Drusch shared with us his forecast for the holiday travel season, how to glide through security lines, and what he never gets on a plane without.
So before you take off this holiday season, take in Drusch’s expert travel advice:
Traveling Type: What’s your forecast for this holiday travel season? What trends are you seeing?
Mark Drusch: Higher traffic than last year, however the peak days (Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday and Monday after) may be marginally less full because the other days around the holiday are seeing very strong traffic. But planes will still be very full. We see an increase in customers celebrating their Thanksgiving in vacation spots, particularly the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica.
What’s the best way to get a cheap flight for holiday travel?
1. Be flexible with your travel plans. Leave on Thanksgiving and return on the Friday or Saturday after or even the Wednesday after.
2. Always utilize comparative websites, like CheapOair.com, to compare across all airlines, and book immediately when you find the fare and travel times/days that suit you. Remember, at this point, waiting to book a flight, even a few minutes, can result in someone else taking that seat.
With the new TSA Pre-Check, how do you get onboard? Is it worth it?
The TSA Pre-Check is the best thing to happen in years to expedite getting through security. The separate lines and reduced hassle can save you lots of time, particularly in the busy holiday season, and you can avoid the hassle of practically disrobing to get through security.
Customers have to be invited to join the program by the TSA based on their travel patterns. If you are invited, join. It is very helpful. Remember, though, that the pre-check screening is random, and you don’t always get to use the line, but when you do, it is worth it.
What do you always carry with you on a plane?
Cell phone, iPad, charger, extra battery, the book I am reading and one day’s extra clothes (if I have checked a bag), just in case my luggage gets lost.
What should you wear (and not wear) to get through security quickly? What are the best ways to avoid a pat down?
Don’t wear lace-up shoes, heavy jewelry, boots that take time to take off, bulky sweaters that take time to take off and belts. Also, remember to take your cell phone out of your pocket and put it in your purse or onboard bag. And make sure to wear slip-on shoes with socks (you don’t want to walk on the floor in your bare feet).
What’s the best way to prepare for your flight the day before? The day of?
Determine in advance your transportation and parking at the airport, check-in online, plan what you are bringing onboard versus checking and pull the airline’s website up to check the gate and departure time (if it has changed) 3-4 hours before your flight.
If you’ve traveling with kids during the holiday season, what’s the best way to keep them occupied prior to and during the flight?
Plan as though you are going to have a 2-3 hour delay; if there is no delay, then you’ll feel as if the trip has gone very smoothly. Pack extra snacks that the children like (they may not be available at the airport for purchase), bring games, downloads on your tablet or books to make sure the children are entertained and not bored on the plane. Remember, not all planes have video and even if they do, it may not be something children find entertaining. Also, make sure the children follow the same clothing rules for going through security quickly. And finally, purchase drinks for the children when you are through security, enough to last the length of the flight. Remember, the drinks on the plane may not be what the children want or could run out by the time the flight attendants get to you.
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