Planning on flying this holiday season? Here are some holiday travel tips for stress free flying from Shannon. Who better to offer advice about flying during the holiday season than someone who works in the industry!
1. What types of flights should we be booking if we are flying during the holiday season with kids?
There are two ways to look at this. I personally prefer the direct flights. Direct flights will get you to your destination the fastest. A connecting flight could give you a break during your travels and usually cost less as they are less desirable.
The busiest days to fly are Monday Friday Saturday and Sunday. Most people do not start or end their holidays on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday so many airlines offer lower fares on those days.
2. What should we do with gifts that we’d like to bring to family and friends?
Keep in mind that any gift you bring with you can and probably will be unwrapped by security whether they are in checked baggage or carry on.
I would check with your airline to see if you can bring a carry on with you and bring your presents, unwrapped on board with you.
During the holiday season, planes are packed – packed with people and stuff! I have heard of some travellers doing their shopping for gifts at their destination. Or purchasing on line and having the gifts delivered ahead of time to the recipient already wrapped!
3. Do you have any tips on how to minimize the wait time at the airport?
Arrive early. Web check in is your best bet. There is usually a separate line up for those travellers already checked in. This line up will move quicker than the line of folks checking in with an agent.
Generally for domestic flights the recommendation is 90 minutes (30 min for baggage drop off line, 30 min for security line up, 30 min for boarding).
During the holidays, add another 30 minutes for good measure. If you miss your flight, odds are all other flights are full and you may end up forfeiting your money and trip!
4. If something goes wrong (ie. delayed flights, lost baggage) what should we do? Who should we contact?
For delayed flights I would talk to customer service reps at the airport. They will know (as soon as they can) when the flight will be leaving. Most delays in winter are due to weather in the city you are departing from or the city your plane is in. Remember a storm in Toronto can affect your flight out of Winnipeg. For lost luggage you should always call your airline.
5. Do you have any other holiday travel tips for parents flying with children?
Try to keep yourself as free of luggage as possible. Check as much as you can. Ask about gate checking your stroller (confirm up to what size they allow) so that you have your stroller right up to the door of the aircraft. Strollers can be helpful in a full airport. During the flight I keep a few fun stuff in my purse. Some snacks, coloring book and crayons, card games, comics etc. I will “present” them throughout the flight. Bring headphones for free TV (when available) and handheld gaming devices (if you have older children).
Shannon has worked for a Canadian airline for years and has travelled extensively with her two kids and husband. You can find her blogging over at Shannon’s View From Here and connect with her on Twitter.
Great tips. I am actually going to be flying out with kids next month so I am a bit scared about what the crowds will be like (will be our first time).
I am going to try to finish up buying gifts online to save space in our suitcase.
Good luck Anna! I’m sure you will do great. Come back and let me know how it went. Have a great vacation 🙂
Great tips! I totally agree, flights that go straight through are always better with kids. I’ve done both and would hate to have a delay in between again with little ones.
I don’t like connecting flights either. Well, not with my kids. Once they get off the plane they think we’ve reached our destination. Hard to explain to them that we have to fly again. Patience skills are developed yet at 4 and 1. LOL
great tips, last year my brother in law came home from australia with his partner, they brought a number of gifts in a carry on and totally forgot about one of them being liquid. it was cologne, very expensive armani colgne that got taken away! ack!
Oh no! So sorry to hear that. But yes, TSA is very strict when it comes to things like that.
Those are really great tips! Flying with kids during the holiday season is so stressful. Thanks for sharing
These are great tips! Although I’m not flying during the holidays, I can only imagine how stressful it can be for people if they’re not properly prepared 🙂
Bonnie Way says
Great tips! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I can second the advice to check as much baggage as possible… we traveled last February and decided not to check some bags (because they would have charged us extra) and later I wished we had. Carrying stuff through an airport is a hassle! 🙂 Do airlines still charge you to check any baggage when traveling to the States?
I agree. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay the additional luggage fees especially when you travel with children – you already have to be hands free with some of them as they explore the airport 😉
Depends on the airline – some charge for checked baggage when traveling to the US. It’s best to check the airline policies before you book your flights – we have some listed right here on KOAP.
Kristen Bobbitt says
I definitely suggest direct flights! I will never travel with connections again. Not after my horrendous travel experience last week with my 2 children.
Baby carriers are great too, especially when you have your hands full with carry-ons.
Sorry to hear that your last trip didn’t turn out the way you imagined. What happened?
Yes I also travel with a baby carrier as well just to keep both hands free.
Christine (@chancesmommy) says
Love this post! Such great tips! I’m a Mom who has traveled to Asia with a 3 year old without my husband and if you’re prepared (helps that Little One is used to traveling), it’s not so stressful 🙂
You are brave Christine! I have never been on a plane with my kids alone. I don’t know if I could handle it. Glad to hear your DD is a great traveler! 🙂
Denise G says
Great tips! I would most likely buy gifts at the destination or have them delivered to the recipient rather than add to luggage to take.
Positively Pampered Patty says
Excellent tips! Now how about for moms who are afraid to fly? lol.
I will have to ask the someone about this one Patty. I have some family members who used to be afraid of flying but not sure how they got over it. I will ask!