Ways to Survive Holiday Travel

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let’s just say that I experienced a mini-travel hell on Monday night. I handled it like Jackie O. visiting France, but I must say at one point I almost cried. If I didn’t prepare, I could have been stuck in a closed airport (that actually had the lights out) for seven hours before being put on a plane, just to watch them de-ice it and then boot me off.

Air travel can be crazy this time of year. Here are some tips for dealing with holiday travel.

• If your flight gets cancelled and they force you to leave the plane and talk to an agent at the desk, while you are waiting in line, call the airline’s 1-800 number at the same time. Let me just say this saved me at least 30 minutes to an hour on Monday night (and time meant everything at 2:30 a.m.).

• Check your computer at home for delays before you leave for the airport. When I saw that my flight was pushed back four hours, I called Southwest and asked what the chances were of it getting moved up. The guy said “very slim, but check each hour.” That man saved me sitting around for seven hours. I got to nap at home and watch Gossip Girl.

• If your flight is on a long delay, when you arrive check the monitors to see if there is an earlier flight. This worked for Brady and I last month. Our flight was pushed back three hours, but we flew standby on the earlier flight and made it – shaving about four hours off our trip.

• Be prepared for the worst – especially during high-traffic travel times. After my bad luck year of 2007, I feel that I handled Monday so well by just expecting to be delayed or to have my bag lost. Don’t go in with the expectations that you are going to have a perfect trip.

• Have a security check point routine. Because I’ve been on close to 20 flights this year, I’ve got it down to a science. While you are waiting for the people to check your ID, take off your coat/sweatshirt, shoes and get out your baggie of liquids. This will speed up the next step of sorting your carry on’s and going through the metal detectors. Also, consider the order you send your stuff through – always put your shoes in first!

• After you get through the detectors, please pick up your stuff and redress away from the community table. I hate when people hold up the line while trying to get redressed (ah hem Brady).

• Be careful with headbands. I have one that loves to set off the metal detectors.

• Remember that no liquid rule – that means snow globes. The TSA people are grinches during the holidays and don’t even give in to a girl crying.

• On your flight, get the drink without ice – you get more that way. If you want it cold, ask for the ice in another cup.

• When you are on Southwest and you can pick your own seat, be a hero and take the security row. You get more leg room.

• Finally, if you get stuck in the airport for six hours, make friends with a bartender and get wasted (vodka on the rocks). Just be sure to pee before you get on the plane. You are sure to get stuck on the runway and want to pee your pants.

And in the words of my bus driver tonight “It’s the holidays people.” You’ve got to deal with the crowds and be patient!
(Photo from: cartoonstock.com)