The airport will be nuts. There’s nothing you can do about that. The average person thinks it’s a good idea to fly the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Don’t be that person.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Remember that bad experience you had at the airport that time? OK…now compound that with the fact that whether your luggage was lost or your flight was cancelled, they weren’t dealing with their busiest day of the year. Think about what happens where you work on the busiest day of the year. No matter what you do, I would guess that only the highest of priorities are addressed. Most likely, things that would be easy for you to do normally are darn near impossible.
It’s the same way for the airlines. Unlike many, I like air travel. Sure, I have my share of nightmare stories, but for the most part, the airlines, like any other service industry, only thrive when they value the customer. If you arrive late for your flight, you will be put on the next available flight to the same destination (for no charge most of the time). The problem is that on the busiest travel days, there is no “next available flight”. (Well, there actually is, but it’s the day after the holiday…defeating the purpose a bit.) You have to know that if, for any reason, you do not get on the flight on which you are booked, you fall into immediate danger of not getting home in time for the holiday. Remember, that next flight, the last one out at 9:45pm? It’s overbooked with people, just like you, who absolutely must be on the plane that day. The next morning is not an option.
What can you do?
*Take the day off. Come on, we all get a few vacation days a year. Save one for the day before Thanksgiving. Save one for Christmas Eve. Yes, I know you have a four-day weekend and you think that’s plenty. It isn’t. The worst holiday travel happens when everyone who decided to save that vacation day ends up at the airport at the same time. Leaving the day before the masses will change your life. Airfare is cheaper the day before. Long-term parking may actually have a few spaces left. Tempers are in check because everyone has an extra day to get where they’re going. Airlines have a much better chance to reschedule you in case of bad weather.
The key is figuring out when everyone else is going to want to fly and avoiding that time. If you can travel midday during the actual Holiday, that’s the holy grail of timing. In fact, the cheapest trip you’ll find to almost any destination is leaving Thanksgiving Day and returning on Saturday. Again…think of when most people are unlikely to be on the move.
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