The last two weeks of December are always a pain to travel through. 50 million Americans are going to the airport between now and New Years. That means you’re going to come across delays, crowds, and bumps. Embrace it. Paste a smile on. It’s part of the season!
Seriously high volumes plus the probability of winter weather means things will get disrupted. Sadly, we’re not all Harris Telemacher from L.A. Story — we can’t bend the weather with our minds no matter how hard we try. Instead, we’re all going to have to live with the harder aspects of air travel.
Below are some rules for surviving:
HAVE A PLAN
This is where a lot of travel falls apart. Know how and when you’re getting to the airport. Know where and when you’re checking your bags. Have your boarding pass, passport, visa, insurance ready and handy. We can’t stress that last one enough. Don’t bury your passport in the bottom of your carry on bag — no one wants to watch you dig around for it. Also, expect to have to show your boarding pass and passport multiple times. Don’t put it away just because you’ve dropped your bag off.
Lines are going to be long. You may not want to spend two hours in an airport, but that’s just the reality this time of year. If you’re flying international from an airport with winter weather, maybe give yourself three hours. You can always grab a drink once you’re past security (more on that later).
If you don’t have a TSA “skip the line” pass, get one. And when you go through security, have your shit together. You’re going to have to take off your shoes, belt, metal jewelry, empty your pockets, remove your laptop/tablets/devices and toiletries — don’t spread this stuff out over multiple bags. It’s basic motions at this point and you just have to go through it with a smile and nod. Please remember that TSA is just doing their job and, well, trying to stop something bad from happening. No, it’s not a perfect system but they’re still just people at work.
In the end, give yourself 30 minutes to check in/drop your bag, an hour for security, and at least 30 minutes to decompress/use the restrooms/get water before you get on the plane. It might only take you 10 minutes to drop your bag and 30 minutes to get through security. That means you have all that extra time to chill out before you get on a flight. And being chilled out on the flight is the best way to fly this time of year.