I love visiting family over the holidays, but like many Americans – going home requires getting on a plane. After past experiences with long lines, lost luggage and cancelled flights, I’ve learned some tricks to prepare for the madness. Below are some ways to take the stress out of flying this holiday season:
Ship Luggage Ahead of Time
Since most major carriers charge baggage fees of at least $25 each way these days, why not pay a little more to have a luggage shipping company transport your bag ahead of time? Show up to the airport bagless and breeze past the bag-check line and avoid the wait at the luggage carousel on the other side. Not to mention, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of lost luggage which can put a damper on the trip. For door to door service check out sites like Luggage Concierge (also a great option for international travel as it’s the only service that ships to South America) and Lugless which offers free insurance on baggage up to $500.
Set-Up Access to Flight Notifications
Almost every airline has a mobile app or email alerts function that will update you on the status of flight delays and cancellations. You can set these services up individually with each airline or download the FlightTrack app from Mobiata which covers 3,000 airports and 1,400 airlines.
Having access to instant updates on the status of your flight takes a huge amount of frustration out of the equation.
Have a Back-Up Plan
So you’ve checked-in for your flight, cleared security and purchased a few mags from Hudson News. You’re feeling pretty confident about the trip until you hear an announcement that your flight has been cancelled. It is important to realize that at this moment, about 200 people are trying to re-book their flight. Keep your cool and prepare for the this situation ahead of time.
The airline will advise you to visit a customer service desk to re-book your flight. Sure, make your way over to the desk with 200 people standing behind it — but as your are doing this, call your airline’s customer service number (helpful to have it pre-programmed in your phone) and try to re-book with an agent over the phone for a better chance of getting on a good flight. The airline may have automatically booked you on a different flight, but calling as soon as possible might help you get a more convenient departure time, etc. Checking baggage will making the re-booking process more complicated. So if possible, travel light so you can run over to a new gate.
A good app to have in your back pocket is Next Flight. It searches for all available flights from more than 1,200 airline carriers and 4,200 airports worldwide. You can quickly find seats on the next flight departing to your destination.
Make Flight Delays Less Painful
Hopper.com recently named the 15 worst airports in America. If you find yourself stranded at one of these airports, equip yourself with the GateGuru airport maps to find the best food and shopping options. Instead of snacking on dry pre-made ham and cheese sandwiches during a long flight delay, use the app to find a decent meal and a nice glass of wine.
Hire an In-flight Nanny
I haven’t used this service yet, but I am so tempted because I think it is genius. Nanny in the Clouds is a website that matches parents with nannies that are booked on the same flight. Nannies register their travel itineraries on the site and make some cash entertaining children in the air. Having an extra set of hands if you are a parent traveling alone definitely takes some stress out of holiday travel.
Featured Image: Airport Interior and Lights (Shutterstock.com)