12 December 2017 by Anna Staford
Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, as millions of us head to see family and friends for the holidays. It’s no surprise that airports get extra busy at this time of year, so here’s how you can be a savvy traveller, avoid those travel traumas and reach your destination relaxed and fabulously festive:
Extra traffic starts to build on the roads weeks before Christmas, so be ready for your journey to the airport taking longer than usual. You don’t want to miss your flight because you were caught in a traffic jam and even if you have travel insurance, this won’t be a valid reason to claim for another flight. It’s critical to leave plenty of time to travel – bearing in mind there may be longer queues to get into airport car parks and more demand for transfer shuttles, as well as longer check-in and security queues. Use a travel app or Google Maps to check the average and maximum journey time well in advance and check the traffic situation on the day you are travelling. Plan to arrive at the airport at least two to three hours before your flight.
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The Christmas holidays are one of the busiest periods for air travel. Millions of passengers pass through airports during these weeks. Expect busy terminals and longer lines at check-in and security. One way of ensuring that you minimise your queuing time is by checking-in in advance, so you can either go straight for security, or for ‘bag-drop’. Have all passes and passports ready and accessible so you don’t hold up the line. If travelling with kids, have an activity for them so that they stay occupied while waiting. This will help keep everyone relaxed and calm.
Many holidaymakers opt to avoid the cold winter blues and fly off to sunnier climes during the Christmas holiday season. Even if your destination is sunny and warm, do keep an eye out for the weather at your chosen location and at home in the lead up to travel. Poor weather will impact your journey and you may need contingency plans for reaching the airport. Your flight may also be delayed or cancelled if the weather is very bad, so check with the airline before you leave home and ensure you are prepared for a possible long wait at the airport.
Many fellow travellers will be stressed, tired, or both during the holiday season. Adding to their frustration are longer queues and bigger crowds. Even if things get stressful, remember to pack plenty of patience and be considerate to fellow travellers and airport personnel. If you’re lucky your politeness will be contagious and you will help revive some Christmas spirit in those around you with your courtesy.
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Like any other holiday traveller, you want to breeze through airport security – and that depends on one thing: packing wisely. Keep all liquids under 100ml and have them in an official airport plastic bag ready to pass through security. Have all items you need to display easily accessible (like lap tops, kindles). It may be tempting to pack some Christmas treats in your luggage, like food, or party poppers and crackers, but these may well be confiscated, so be aware of security restrictions are before you spend your money.
The long lines at airport restaurants mean that it may take some time to grab a sandwich if you’re a little peckish. The best thing to do is to pack your own snacks just in case you are delayed and run out of time to get food at the airport. You will also save a fortune.
Expect more flight delays and stop-overs during the holiday season. Have your smartphone, or iPad fully charged (and carry a charger) so you can keep yourself occupied and stay in touch with friends and family if you are delayed. Take a book or travel game if you prefer. If you’re travelling with children, it is especially important to have something that you know will keep them occupied (either a new item, or a reliable favorite). Be aware of other passengers and do all you can to keep your kids close to you and calm so that they don’t disturb other travelers.
Being mindful of these tips will help make your journey less stressful. The bottom line is that you should expect the unexpected when you travel during the holidays, and the more prepared you are, the better you will be. Stay safe, be aware of where you are going by checking the latest travel advice from the FCO and remember your travel insurance if you are leaving the country – just in case of any mishaps or emergencies.