A few years ago when I was living in New Orleans, I decided to fly home for Christmas break. I had some time off from school and although the holiday flights were expensive, I wanted to see my family.
I figured I’d save a few bucks by selecting a flight with a layover in Charlotte (or maybe Atlanta?). It was a southern city known for it’s mild winter weather. What could possibly go wrong?
Well for starters I touched down at my layover and ran to my new gate only to find the second leg of my trip had been delayed. As an hour ticked away the delay kept getting longer and longer, and I kept getting sicker and sicker. See, my body used to do this thing when I was a teacher. It would keep it together while I worked long hours and graded countless papers, and then the second I slowed down, got a chance to rest, I would get sick. My body would literally wait until I wasn’t too busy to be sick.
Hours and a nasty stomach bug later I discovered my flight, coming in from Chicago, had been grounded due to winter weather and wasn’t coming after all. I had to stand in a long line while simultaneously sitting on hold waiting for a customer service rep, trying to reschedule myself on a new flight. When I finally did get on a new flight home, I spent those couple hours trying not to get sick as we bounced through turbulence the entire way. All it took was this one bad connection and I swore off holiday layovers forever.
Travel during the holidays can get particularly hairy. It’s a hectic mix of crowded airports, full flights, wintery weather and flight delays. Not to mention the travelers that are on their one trip of the year and can’t seem to remember how to get through TSA.
Here are a few tips (that I originally shared on the TravelBank blog) to help you survive your holiday flights this season.
Book direct flights
The best thing you can do to keep your schedule on time is book a nonstop flight. It eliminates the potential of missing your connecting flight due to holiday travel mayhem and delays.
Hopefully you’ve already booked all your flights well in advance of the holiday season, but in case you haven’t here’s how to find a flight at a price you don’t hate.
Check for wifi
Whether you need inflight wifi to get some work done or just to stay in touch, it’s a great amenity to have. Not all wifi plans are created equal though. I was recently charged upwards of $27 for wifi (that didn’t even have a strong enough signal to work!) on a 5 hour flight, but I’ve also paid as little as $8 for an entire day (thank you, Southwest). Check the deals your airline offers to see if the cost is worth the purchase.
Check for inflight entertainment
If the wifi is too expensive and you don’t have to stay connected, turn to inflight entertainment. Some airlines will let you stream various channels or television shows without purchasing a wifi package, but verify whether you need to bring your own device.
For example, Virgin America has a selection of satellite television channels on their seatback devices, but Southwest has a portal that allows you to stream shows on your own phone or laptop (in which case, don’t forget your charger!).
Bring your own entertainment
When all else fails, bring your own entertainment. You could go old-school and pack a book or just download your favorite shows on Netflix. Had you heard they now let you binge offline?!