Six Strategies for Saving Your Summer Vacation and Avoiding Airport Anxiety
With less TSA agents expected to be on staff at airports, fleets of Boeing 737 Max grounded and summer travel predicted to be at an all-time high, experts say it’s a potential recipe for lengthy travel disruptions all summer long around the country. So, how can summer travelers best handle – or better yet – bypass these hassles during this busy season? Here are six strategies for saving your summer vacation and avoiding some serious anxiety at the airport.
1. If you’ve already booked a flight, arm yourself with info, arrive early and prepared. The “arrive two hours prior to domestic departures” rule (three for international) will be more critical than ever this summer as TSA lines may be the longest we’ve seen in years (even for those who have TSA Pre-Check status). Go “carry-on” only if you can, so cancellations won’t affect your luggage and stand-by is always an option. Download your airline app and use it to your advantage – proactive flight updates and access to help-desk agents will be your lifeline.
2. Book the first flight of the day. If you are still in the planning stage, get yourself on the first flight out in the morning. Your plane will most likely be at the gate and ready to go. Statistics show that early a.m. flights have better on-time records and TSA lines will be shorter at that time too. As delays compound throughout the day, you’ll already be at your destination. It’s well worth the wake-up call!
3. Connection times can make or break your trip. When booking connecting flights, be sure to check the time between flights as airlines are only required to leave a short 30-minute window for you to make your next flight. Choose a connection that leaves you at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours to account for longer summer delays. And while the airlines are obligated to put you on the next available flight, with high summer capacity, missing a connection might mean there aren’t any seats left on other flights anytime soon.
4. This is the summer to road trip! If you’ve ever considered a road trip, this is the summer to do it! Savvy travelers will tell you they avoid the peak prices and busy airports of summer and wait to find deals on flights in the shoulder seasons. Regional road trips allow for more spontaneity and travel booking apps make it easier than ever to find hotels and attractions on the fly. Make a big regional resort, like one of the “everything in one place” Gaylord properties your home base for exploring destinations like D.C., Dallas and Denver, or let hotel-hopping along the way your next big adventure.
5. Don’t feel like a staycation is ‘settling’. Don’t rule out a staycation. And by ‘staycation’, I don’t mean staying at home. Hotels like the Moxy and AC Hotel have become destinations in themselves, with spas, pools, cabanas, restaurants and summer rooftop scenes. Sometimes even one or two nights in a luxury property can leave you feeling more rested than a week away. Playing hometown tourist can be rewarding, relaxing and may just be your ticket to planning the perfect getaway without having to head to the airport.
6. Know your passenger rights and always ask for compensation. Finally, if you are subject to major delays or cancellations, find out the reason (is it weather? air traffic? no crew?). Click here for more details on your rights as an airline passenger, what warrants compensation and how much you are eligible to receive.