Flying this Christmas – tips to avoid hassle and reduce queuing

If the recent snow has got you thinking about escaping the worst of the weather, or if you’re taking a domestic flight to visit family and friends this Christmas, here are some tips that will help you reduce the hassle of flying this festive season.

If you haven’t booked your flight yet, get on and do it. If you can avoid the busiest days – traditionally just before Christmas and 27 and 28 December, this will reduce your queuing times and the airport terminals will be less busy.

Whatever day you’re flying, expect queues and be prepared. Do as much as possible before you set off for the airport:

Check-in online

Most airlines allow you to check-in online by printing off your own boarding passes, or having your boarding pass sent to your mobile phone. Printing on your own boarding pass will save you queuing at the terminal – you only have to drop off your baggage, if you are travelling with checked-in luggage.

Travel with hand luggage only

Travelling with hand luggage only will help you breeze through the airport when you’re plane lands, no queuing at the baggage carousel wondering if your suitcase made it on the plane.

Arrive early

Because there’s going to be more people flying, you should expect to encounter queues at check-in and also passing through security. To ensure you have plenty of time, arrive early – not too early – but do allow extra time for queuing.

Hand luggage

Don’t forget the liquids in hand luggage rules – no liquids in containers larger than 100ml. If you are carrying presents in your hand luggage, carry them unwrapped as they could be subjected to checks at security.

Don’t carry party poppers, either in your hand luggage or checked-in luggage. These fun, seemingly harmless party accessories are actually explosive items and as such are banned from aircraft.

There are also restrictions on the carriage of Christmas crackers – so if you plan to carry some check with your airline and airport before travel.

Travelling to the airport

Plan your journey to the airport in advance allowing extra time – not only will the airports be busier at this time of year, so will the roads. For a list of route planners and further tips check here.

If you’re planning to travel by taxi, book it in advance; don’t wait until the morning of travel to book it.

Public transport timetables change over the festive period, sometimes a limited service is operated at weekends and bank holidays so check in advance.

Weather disruptions

Heavy snow is currently affecting the whole of the UK. If this continues over the Christmas period, there will likely be disruption to flights and transportation to the airports. Should your area be affected you should check with your airline in prior to travelling to the airport.

While the airport operators are responsible for the day-to-day running of the airports, ultimate responsibility for your flight rests with your airline so you should contact your airline for an up-to-date status of your flight. Check your airline’s website for details – you could try phoning, but lines are likely to be very busy. Alternatively, try twitter, many of the airlines, and airports, are on twitter – follow them and send them a direct message for up-to-date information.