Traveling anywhere these days can be challenging but it is especially so during the holiday season. Here are five ways you can make it less stressful:
- If you’re flying, go early. The first few flights of the day are the least likely to be delayed or cancelled. I’m talking about about flights before 8:30 a.m. Also, the best odds for smooth flights are those on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. The worst days to fly are on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday as they have the highest percentage of delays and cancellations. Also, do not book a connection that is less than ninety minutes from landing to departure. These days allowing less than a ninety minute layover means you risk missing your connection. Be sure to know where you’re going. Lots of airports are renovating these days so be sure you go to the right gate. Check www.gateguru.com to easily find out the right gate. (Check out my best and worst airports & airlines at the end of this post).
- If your flight is cancelled then go straight to the customer service counter. Meanwhile, start calling the airline on your cell phone while you are in line. The idea is that you deal with whoever can help you first, which may not be the counter agent. Also, be flexible. Look at alternative airports and airlines. Most airlines are members of OneWorld or Star Alliance so they can book you on another airline without additional fees.
- Check everything you can. Do not bring a carry-on bag or carry only one small bag, if possible. This will make it easier to navigate the airports and in regards to overhead bins. Do not pack anything valuable in your checked baggage. This means anything you cannot replace, such as medications, photos, documents, itinerary/tickets/confirmation or contact numbers, jewelry, credit cards, reading glasses, or cash.
- Bring an empty water bottle so that you can fill it at any water fountain after you have cleared security. This way you can stay hydrated or take medication without having to buy a drink or wait for in-flight service. I also recommend bringing a protein bar or trail mix as a healthy snack. Most flights that last less than four hours do not offer meal service so you’ll likely only get a small glass of juice or soda and a pack of pretzels or such.
- Check the weather. Most folks check their local weather but what you care about even more so is the weather where you’ll be going. It is important to know if there is a bad thunderstorm with high winds or a hurricane or a snowstorm as this will affect most modes of transportation and will be a concern whether you’re on the road or in the air. Go ahead and be thinking about your Plan B if the weather looks like it may be a negative factor during your travels.
WORST AIRPORTS FOR DELAYS & CANCELLATIONS: Newark, LaGuardia, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Dullies (Washington, DC).
BEST AIRPORTS: Salt Lake City International, Ronald Regan Washington National and Seattle-Tacoma International
WORST AIRLINES FOR DELAYS & CANCELLATIONS: United, JetBlue & Southwest
BEST AIRLINES: Delta, Alaska Air, and Hawaiian Airlines
As I always point out, the most important thing you can do is to have a good attitude. Hope for the best and plan for the worst and keep calm no matter what and you’ll be all right…