'Tis the Season For Travel
Santa, great food, quality time spent with family and friends -- these are the things you look forward to during Christmas. Increased airport traffic, snowstorms and flight delays are not.
The holidays may be one of the most popular times of the year to travel but they are also known for delays and cancellations.
Sadly, holiday travellers may encounter impatient fellow commuters, shoppers and children throughout the holiday season. Here are some tips to help make air travel plans as smooth as possible:
- Book early. Go to a reputable travel agent -- a member of a travel industry association -- to find the best deal and to be sure that all aspects of your trip are taken care of. Unless your trip is totally refundable, consider buying cancellation insurance just in case the unexpected actually happens.
- Stay on schedule. Try to book flights early in the morning or late at night. Early and late flights give you the best protection against being bumped, delayed or completely cancelled.
- Call the airport and/or your airline before leaving home to determine if you should expect delays at check in or with your flight.
- Earn your flight. Some credit card companies offer travel reward miles and some airlines offer frequent flyer miles. Holiday flights tend to be more expensive than last minute or seat sale flights and some reward programs require advance time to process reward purchases. Although some reward programs put embargos on periods surrounding the holidays, you may be able to save money on your flight.
- If you are travelling to a large city where many connector flights are handled, see if a cheaper flight is available into a neighbouring city or town. If you plan on renting a car anyway, the drive from city to city could be worth it. Renting a car also gives you freedom during your stay to come and go as you please and not have to depend on your hosts for transportation.
- Try to be flexible with your dates. This gives you a better chance to find a cheap flight. Try to avoid weekends; the rates are often higher and flights are more crowded.
- Actual holidays such as Christmas Day and New Year's Day are less busy and if they are convenient for you, may make your trip more relaxing.
-- Although you are always reminded that procrastination is not a good thing, some of the best air fare deals happen at the last minute. You should only wait until the last minute if you are flexible and patient.
- Pay for your flight using a credit card. This gives you a record of your purchase. That may make it easier to get a refund if you don't receive what you paid for.
- Don't limit yourself to only one mode of transportation. VIA Rail offers a 35 per cent discount for students who have an International Student Identification Card.
Due to increased airport security, it is always a good idea to be prepared for pre-boarding processes so that you are not delayed before you even reach the departure area. Here are some added tips to speed you on your way:
- Don't pack sharp objects in your carry-on bag.
- Have photo identification or a passport and your boarding pass ready.
- Follow the airline's policies for carrying dangerous goods.
- Remove all old airline tags from your bags.
- Attach ID tags to the inside and outside of your bags. On the inside tag provide your destination and your home address. On the outside tag identify only your destination.
- Before departing, be sure to check your return flight details in case changes have occurred.
- Although you may be travelling with gifts, try to pack as lightly as possible. You don't want to have to pay extra charges for baggage. It may be cheaper to mail gifts to your destination instead of travelling with them.
- If you are travelling with someone, split your baggage so that each of you has necessities in the other's bag. This will be a great relief if luggage gets misplaced during the rush.
- Pack toiletries and liquids in zipper top bags so the contents don't ruin other items if there should be a leak.
kjd November 26, 2003 1:38 P.M.