How to Survive Holiday Air Travel

How to Survive Holiday Air Travel

holiday air travel

It’s no secret that holiday air travel can be tough. Between the long lines, traffic, and constant fear of flight delays, your holiday cheer can turn into “bah humbug” on a dime. Here’s some advice on how to survive your holiday trip.


Book in advance

Traveling during the holidays is stressful enough, so don’t wait until the last minute to book flights. Timing your ticket buys isn’t an exact science, but on average, you’ll have the best luck booking about 54 days out. If you missed the “prime booking window” for your travel dates, use a tool like Google Flights or Skyscanner to find the best pricing.

Stay flexible

If your schedule allows for flexible travel dates, take advantage! Although traveling on major holidays can be a bummer, sometimes flights are cheaper on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Alternatively, you could extend your vacation by a few days and find less expensive flights that way.

Fly nonstop

Flying nonstop is usually worth a few extra bucks. It can save you from missing your connecting flight, being stranded far from home during a blizzard, or pulling a muscle sprinting to your gate. If there is no nonstop flight to your destination, consider flying to a larger hub nearby and having someone pick you up.

Book with a credit card that has delay coverage

Did you know that some credit cards offer flight delay coverage? A perk like that could save you hundreds of dollars in the event of a major delay. Just remember to read the fine print!

Choose your seat

Especially if you’re traveling with family, pick your seats in advance if the option is available. That way you can select the seats with the most leg room (usually the emergency exit row), stay close together, and hopefully avoid getting stuck in the spot nearest the bathroom.

Do your best to stay healthy

Germs run rampant around airports, and since flu season has already started in Colorado, do your best to stay healthy before you fly! Wash your hands frequently, take Vitamin C, get your flu shot, and do whatever else it takes to keep yourself from falling ill before you travel.


Ship your presents

You might be the best gift-giver ever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should fly with the Broncos helmet you bought for your nephew. Instead, consider shipping gifts. It’ll save you the headache of having to keep track of them in transit and save you money on checked luggage.

For your return flight, ship gifts home or pack an extra duffel to carry them back in.

If you do pack gifts, don’t wrap them

If you insist on taking gifts with you (or are a last-minute shopper), do not wrap them. There’s a chance the TSA will have to open the parcels to see what’s inside. Instead, pack some festive bags and tissue paper — it’s easier than wrapping anyway!

Only take a carry on

If you can pack light and fit everything into a checked bag, don’t think twice. Just do it. You’ll save time getting checked in, can leave the airport as soon as you deplane, and, most importantly, you won’t have to worry about lost luggage. Wear your winter coat and heavier layers when you fly to save space in your bag.

If you do need to check luggage, only use TSA approved locks and mark your bag with a tag you’ll recognize at baggage claim.

Before you leave

Charge up

Before you leave, charge your devices, and make sure you have a battery pack handy as well. Airport outlets are always a hot commodity!

Also, by the time you leave for the airport, gassing up the car will probably be the last thing on your mind. Save yourself the trouble and do it the night before.

Check your reservation

Unpredictable winter weather can wreak havoc on flight schedules. The day you leave, check your flight frequently to make sure there aren’t any delays or cancellations.

Know where you’re parking

There are plenty of places to park at Denver International Airport. However, lots can fill quickly with holiday travelers. Reserving a space ensures you’ll know exactly where you’re parking, how much it’ll cost, and how long it’ll take you to get to the terminal.

Print boarding pass or download it to your phone

Save time at check-in by printing off your boarding pass or downloading it onto your phone. If you don’t have any checked bags, you can head right to security after checking in!

Prepare entertainment

Stock up on music, books, magazines, and movies to help pass the time on flights and during long layovers or delays. It’s always a good distraction from the holiday hustle going on around you.

Stock up on healthy snacks

DIA has some great restaurants, but during the holidays they can fill up fast. Prepare yourself with alternatives to vending machine food for when you’re waiting for your flight or on board. Pack travel-friendly snacks that can make it through security like carrot sticks, granola bars, trail mix, and dried fruit. This is an especially handy tip for parents with picky eaters.


Arrive early

Just like booking tickets, there is no one right answer on how early to arrive DIA. The folks at the airport recommend coming at least two hours in advance. But, erring on the side of caution during the holidays isn’t a bad idea. There are some more things to consider when deciding how early to arrive at DIA in this article.  

Upgrade your seat

Flying solo? There’s no harm in asking your airline to upgrade your seat! The holidays are a busy time for personal travel, so airlines will be more willing to bump you to seats usually reserved for business travelers, especially on oversold flights.

Download helpful apps

Staying up-to-date on flight delays, cancellations, and other updates has never been easier. You don’t even have to move from your seat! Follow your airline and DIA on Twitter for live updates. Some airlines also have designated iPhone and Android apps that keep you in the loop.

Try to stay calm and happy

Above all, remember that every passenger you encounter during your travels wants to make it on time for their holiday plans, too. You’re all in the same boat, er, plane. So, do your best to stay calm and be polite to airline staff and fellow travelers.

Ready to take on holiday travel? Book your parking space today for the closest, fastest, and least expensive parking at DIA!

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