We’re planning to fly to Halifax in the week before Christmas. Are there any days we should avoid? Could we get stranded somewhere and miss Christmas?— Shirley McIssac, Kamloops, BC
Flying during the holiday season is never easy. Fares skyrocket, the weather can be unpredictable, and passengers are often anxious and stressed. But, there are ways to mitigate the madness:
Booking Your Ticket
• The Christmas heyday is between December 19 and January 3. The worst (i.e. most popular) days to travel are December 23 and 27.
• The best day to travel is actually December 25. The lines are minimal, most flights have a few empty seats (which translates into more leg room), and the atmosphere is much calmer.
• Most people like to travel on the weekends, so try not to fly on Saturday or Sunday. Tuesday is the best day if you’re trying to avoid large crowds.
• Be prepared to pay premium fares. Air Canada and Westjet do have seat sales for the Christmas season, but you have to jump on them quickly.
• Wrap presents at your destination. If you take them in your carry-on, you will be required to unwrap them so security officials can see inside. If you check your presents, keep in mind that your luggage could be delayed or lost, which puts you in a tight bind on Christmas morning.
• Make sure none of your presents contain snow globes, perfume, body products, or food items such as jam or salsa—if you try and take these items as carry-on, they will be confiscated.
• To avoid baggage hassles at the airport, consider mailing your presents ahead.
• Pack your cell phone charger in your carry-on, in case you get delayed and need to be accessible to family and friends.
The Travel Day
• Be earlier than you usually would arrive at the airport, and check-in online before you leave the house.
• Be prepared for delays with a book, portable DVD player or stack of magazines.
• Be courteous and pleasant: remember that Christmas is a stressful time of year, and you aren’t the only one who doesn’t want to be spending the holidays in an airport.