Photo courtesy of travelandleisure.com

By: Heather Wilde, TWIP

Delta just cancelled 1400 flights right before Christmas. How can you make sure your holiday travel is uninterrupted?

How do you spend your holidays? Do you stay close to home, or take time off to travel somewhere?

According to AAA, 2017 is gearing up to be one of the busiest holiday travel seasons ever. 107 million Americans — roughly one in three — are expected to travel by air, rail, or car from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1.

With all that traveling going on, it leaves our roads, railways, and airports more congested than usual. Additionally, unpredictable winter weather can cause unanticipated delays and cancellations. The Department of Transportation even set up a site to help travelers make sense of their rights.

A week away from Christmas, I found my original flight home was canceled, causing me to have to purchase a new one at twice the price. Additionally, I have both TSA PreCheck and Clear to speed through security. Once arrived, I was told that only printed boarding passes were being accepted — and that Clear was only available in the First Class line, with no PreCheck. Both surprises cost me an additional 30 minutes going through security.

No matter what happens, you don’t need to be at the mercy of the Airlines. With some extra planning, you can make your holiday travel go smoothly, no matter what comes your way.

1. Show Up Early

At the holidays, check-in times at airports are much longer than usual, up to four times as long, both at bag drops and at security lines. An easy rule of thumb: if you’re at the airport early, you’ll make your flight. If you’re late, you missed it.

2. Fly Nonstop

I know, it’s often cheaper to fly with stops and connections. However, if there is any possibility that your flight plans could be interrupted, and you have no flexibility to wait for the next available open seat to your destination, pay the extra for the nonstop flight.

3. One-Way Is the Only Way

There is a quirk of air travel where if you don’t fly one leg of your ticket, the rest of your ticket is canceled. Therefore, If you have a round-trip flight, and the first part is canceled or delayed, you have to wait it out — or you’ll miss your flight home.

But, if you purchase one-way tickets instead, and something happens to your first leg of your flight, you can take matters into your own hands and still keep your original return flight. One-way tickets used to be more expensive than round trips, but in most cases, they are the same price or cheaper now.

4. Reserve a Rental Car

If you are within driving distance of your destination, you may want to have a rental car reserved just in case your flight is canceled. You can reserve rental cars directly from the rental car agencies without prepayment, and cancel them if they are not needed. This way, you can have a car ready to drive to your destination – or to another airport in the area where there may be alternate flights.

5. Reserve a Backup

Did you think airlines give you hotel vouchers if you’re staying overnight due to a flight cancellation? That’s not always the case.

If you think there might be a chance your flight will be canceled for weather, make a refundable reservation just in case — and you’ll be able to have a way to get through the night until your flight Is rescheduled.

6. Be Polite

No matter how crazy things get, stay calm and remain positive. If you get frustrated, it will only make things worse for you and those around you. If you focus on the negative, you’ll miss out on the joy of the holidays.

With these tips, you’ll be able to handle the worst holiday travel has to throw at you.