Ask the Travel Emergency Expert: 8 Ways to Plan for Smoother Holiday Air Travel

Whether one is traveling to visit loved ones, heading back home from school, or traveling for business, flying during the busy holiday season can add an additional layer of complexity to any journey. While we cannot control traffic, weather, or seat assignments, here are some simple (and often overlooked!) tips and tricks from On Call’s VP of Operations, Kristin Toth, that can help make your air travel experience less stressful (and dare we say ‘fun’?!)  this holiday season.

1) Online Check-In: Most major airlines offer an online check-in option, yet we’ve seen it overlooked by even the savviest travelers time and time again. By checking in online, you can choose or adjust your seating assignment and download your boarding pass in advance. This helps you to avoid long lines at the check-in counter, saving you time and much-needed patience at the start of your journey.

2) Dress for Success (and Comfort!): You can’t predict the temperature in an airport, but you can dress in a way that prepares you for whatever climate you’re faced with during your travels. Dress in comfortable, breathable layers so you can easily adjust your clothing according to the temperature. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to take off and put back on during security screening and pack compression socks for long-haul flights to help reduce foot discomfort. Being prepared with climate-appropriate clothing ensures that you are comfortable no matter what Mother Nature brings during your travels.

3) Pack Like a Pro: No one wants to pay additional fees at the baggage drop or repack their luggage in the middle of a busy airport. Make sure to check your airline’s luggage restrictions and guidelines before you pack. It’s common knowledge not to pack explosives, lithium-ion batteries, or hazardous chemicals, but be sure to keep important travel documents, prescription medication and cameras in your carry-on baggage in the event your luggage is delayed.

4) Make the Most of Carry-ons:  It doesn’t matter if you’re on a two-hour flight or a twenty-two-hour flight, entertainment, sustenance, and comfort are paramount to an enjoyable in-flight experience. Make sure to pack essentials like gum, snacks, and a water bottle in your carry-on to keep you satiated throughout your journey.  Consider thinking outside the box when it comes to seatback entertainment, especially on longer flights – books, crossword puzzles, and even coloring books can help pass the time  and also gives you a break from screen time so you can fully disconnect and relax while in the air.

5) Arrive Early: General guidance suggests arriving at the airport two hours ahead of a domestic flight and three hours ahead of international travel. While this advice holds true for most times of the year, we strongly encourage arriving even earlier during the holiday season. By arriving early, you can ensure that you have ample time to check your luggage, pass through security, and navigate any crowds or other delays that could arise.

6) Be Prepared for Security: Anyone who has traveled recently can easily recognize the sound of security agents reminding travelers to take their laptops out of their bags, empty their pockets, and dump liquids. Be prepared to sail through security this holiday season by organizing your electronics so they are easy to find and remove from your carry-on when the time comes. Ensuring that your shoes, jacket, hat, jewelry, and belt are easy to remove also helps speed up the security process, and of course, it’s always wise to do a quick double-check for liquids (remember the 3 oz or less rule!) in your bag prior to joining the security line.

7) Get to Know Your Terminal: The title of longest airport walk in the world goes to the Dallas Ft. Worth airport where the walk from Terminal B to Terminal E is over two miles. While airport shops and restaurants can be enticing, it’s a good idea to locate your gate first. If there are last-minute changes to your flight, you’ll know where to go and won’t have to rush back from a far-flung area of the airport. Once you’ve found your gate and become acquainted with the area, you can feel more at ease to grab some snacks, peruse the bookstore, or refill your water bottle.

8) Easy Boarding: Once the boarding doors open, it’s all too common to encounter a mad rush to queue up to enter the jetway. Avoid the temptation to join the crowd and remain seated until your boarding zone has been called. Organized boarding means that everyone will get to their seats quickly and efficiently.

Now that you’ve successfully arrived at your seat, sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight!

Happy Holidays and safe travels from everyone at On Call International.


About On Call International:
When traveling, every problem is unique–a medical crisis, a political threat, even a common mishap such as a missed flight. But every solution starts with customized care that ensures travelers are safe and protected. That’s why for over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global emergency assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Contact us today to learn more.