Winter is a time when most people are eager to get away. Whether the post holiday period has you exhausted, the weather is horrible, or the kids simply have the time off school and it makes sense – winter is a great time for vacations. Unfortunately it can also be a tricky time to fly. You can’t enjoy a beach getaway if you can’t get to the beach, so here are some helpful hints!
7 Tips for Easier Winter Flights with Family
- Build in Extra Time: While you may be able to cut it closer at other times, in winter you’ll want to pad your schedule to account for weather and other delays. An extra hour or two up front may seem like a long time, but if it helps you avoid delaying your entire trip by a day because of a long security line and a missed flight, it was time well spent.
- “Winterize” Your Schedule: You’ll want to plan and book a little differently in the winter to account for extra variables. Avoid connecting flights and travel non stop whenever possible, even if it costs a little extra. Delays and cancellations tend to domino into each other for airports, so book earlier flights when possible, as later options have a greater chance of being thrown by current or earlier weather.
- Pick Winter-Friendly Hubs: If you can’t get a direct flight and have to connect, at least try to do so through a hub city less prone to bad weather. A connecting flight in say, Phoenix, is less likely to be affected by winter weather than say, Denver.
- Have a Backup Plan: Knowing that weather may be a factor, and you may not have an idea until the day of, don’t wait for the airline to present you with a second option. Know what other flights and airports are available to you. The sooner you can act, the better your chances are of being one of the first out of a bad weather situation and able to avoid extended delays. If driving or taking a train is an option, you’ll want to move quickly to jump on your backup before everyone else has the same idea.
- Check in with the Airline: While many bad weather cancellations are last minute affairs, these days airlines also preemptively cancel flights in advance of big storms to avoid problems. They may begin waiving fees for changing flights days in advance of a big storm and you can be one of the first to switch if you are proactive about keeping yourself informed.
- Check the Weather: It may seem like a no-brainer, but many travellers are so focused on the weather where they are that they forget to look at the destination, or vice versa. While you may have dodged the blizzard in your hometown, your connecting city might not have, or your destination may be looking down the barrel of a hurricane. Actively keep up on the weather for all stages of your journey and you may be able to spot and anticipate delays before the airline calls them.
- Use a Travel Agent: While you may be a savvy online booker, winter is a season where having the backing of a good travel agent can really pay off. If you face cancellations and need to make a last minute scramble to save your trip, having an experienced professional in your corner can more than make up for their modest fee.