I don’t know about you, but when I think of the airport during Christmas time, I imagine the McCallister family from Home Alone sprinting through the Chicago terminal, barely making it to their gate to Paris. And you can’t forget the mom’s journey back – cancelled flights and so many set backs! Like the McCallisters, airports for me (Emily) are really stressful. I’m never fully relaxed until we’re on the plane! If you are anything like me and want nothing more than to just get to your destination, we’ve written this post for you. Here are our most prized tips and tricks for surviving the airport during the holidays.
7 Tips For Surviving The Airport During The Holidays
1. Get There EARLY.
More people are flying during this time, which means lines can get backed up. Last time we came to the airport, we waited for 45 minutes – just in the security line! We also saw a few people reduced to tears; they missed their flights because they didn’t arrive early enough. A good rule of thumb is to arrive at least 2 hours before your boarding time for domestic flights, and 3 hours before international flights.
2. Consider Purchasing TSA Precheck / Global Entry / Clear.
Travel often? Our Global Entry cards have saved us so much time getting through security on tight transfers. Other perks? You get to keep your shoes on, and keep your laptop and liquids in your bag. Oh, and when coming back to the US you can pass through a WAY shorter customs line. Here are the programs and their benefits:
TSA Precheck: $85 for 5 years. Allows you to go through faster security lines. You also get to keep your shoes on and keep everything in your bag.
Global Entry: $100 for 5 years. This is the one we have. You get to go through TSA pre-check lines for faster security and enter faster lines at international customs back into the USA. This one requires a long application and an on-site interview, but it’s worth it.
Clear: $179/year. Newest of these services. It’s only available at 12 airports across the US at the moment, but you are allowed to use TSA pre-check lines at non-participating airports. The benefits? Virtually no line, ever. You get to cut the entire security line and keep everything in your bag.
3. Stay Calm.
You’ve purchased your ticket, packed your things, and checked your flight times twice. Know that people fly all the time and everything is likely to go just fine. I need to be reminded of this all the time – I’m the high-stress one between Berty and I. Give yourself time to slow down and settle in. Which leads me to the next point…
4. Be Nice To Airline Employees.
When things go wrong, you want them on your side. They are humans too, just performing their 9-5. My sister was once stuck on the airplane taxiway for THREE hours because of unexpected weather. Everyone was getting upset and frustrated, but she stayed calm and ended up getting a better seat when they reorganized passengers. Whatever the issue, speak kindly and reason with them, and you’ll be surprised how willing they are to help you.
5. Pack Light.
Avoid bag drops and luggage carousels and try packing carry-on only. This saves you time at the airport and completely eliminates the risk of your luggage getting lost! It also forces you to decide what’s important to bring and what non-essentials you should leave at home. If you struggle with packing light, don’t worry – we’ve got a post to help you with that.
Read More: The Essential Carry-On Only Packing List
6. Stock Up On Snacks.
If you are like us and try to travel as cheap as possible (helloooo budget airlines) you know that some airlines do NOT include meals. Pack an empty water bottle and plenty of sweet and salty snacks to tide you over until your destination.
7. Bring Entertainment.
Remember how we said to arrive 2-3 hours early? Hopefully with that extra time you’ll be able to relax, too. Bring headphones and listen to music or podcasts, bring a book, or even purchase magazines (my personal fave). This will give you something to do while you wait!
Read More: 6 Things To Do When Your Flight Is Delayed