Family and friends prepare to fly out to enjoy the Christmas holidays. Make it easy this year by trying to avoid the busiest travel days and follow some easy recommendations to avoid long queues at your place of departure. These useful tips will help you to relax and enjoy the Christmas holiday period.
Do not wrap gifts
It would be better to wrap the gifts when you arrive at your destination, especially if you want to carry them on the plane. Your hand baggage may have to be opened for any security inspection that may be required and gifts would then need to be unwrapped. Also be advised to check the hand baggage restrictions before coming to the airport because it would be a shame if a gift has to be left behind.
Be informed and use the web
Just before the journey starts double check the route to make sure that everything is fine. Apart from visiting the train/airline company’s website or calling the customer service, nowadays many of them use social media services to inform their passengers. Also take weather conditions into account when planning your trip and visit the Met Office website for that purpose.
- UK airports on Twitter
- National Rail Twitter accounts and Facebook pages
- Traffic information on Twitter
Don’t miss your holidays for 30 minutes of your life. During peak travel times you will face long queues in the airports, crowded trains and congestion on motorways and major roads. Try to anticipate all those problems by arriving at your place of departure earlier than usual. Remember that airlines recommend arriving at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight departs.
During the Christmas period, making this 3 hours will make the experience less stressful. If you live close enough to the airport to be flexible when you depart from home, check the airport departures to see if your flight is delayed. You may be able to have a cup of tea at home rather than wait at the airport.
Select the appropriate transport mode
Rail, road or air transport? It depends on your destination and the time you have. You should take in consideration how well connected is your journey before making a decision.
If you’re spending the Christmas holidays abroad you don’t have many choices: a flight will be the faster option. Air passengers should find out whether public transport is running to and from airports because there are disruptions during the Christmas period.
Train travel in the UK is a cheap alternative to flight and more secure than a car when the weather conditions are not good enough. If your are travelling long distances book a seat as soon as possible to ensure a comfortable journey. For more details of the train services available on Christmas see the National Rail Enquiries Christmas travel summary.
Finally, if you decide to travel by car check the Highways Agency website for restrictions or temporary speed limits application because of roadworks over Christmas.
Avoid peak travel days
With Christmas Eve falling on Saturday this year many people may begin the big getaway the Friday before. Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th are Bank Holidays because Christmas Day falls on the weekend so those days will be busy at the airports.
On the roads, over the holiday period all major routes from central London to the motorways are likely to be busy. Again, stay updated on the Highways Agency website to avoid congestion.
The same will happen with the train stations. As the Christmas getaway coincides with the weekend there will be long queues in the train stations and other transport hubs.
If you have the possibility to extend your holiday time to the end of the week and come back on either the 28th or the 29th you will avoid congestion.
Know your passenger rights
As a passenger you may be entitled to compensation if you are denied boarding onto a flight or the airline has ceased trading as long as your holiday is protected by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL). Also, regardless of the mode of transport you use, you are protected by the European Union if you are flying within the EU or on an EU airline and your flight is overbooked, delayed or cancelled.
Christmas holidays ideas
Still looking for a Christmas holiday destination? Have a look at our Christmas breaks ideas and choose the most appropriate accommodation for you and your family or friends. There are plenty of options for an unforgettable Christmas: from a winter wonderland location like Switzerland or the US, to a relaxing winter sun in the Caribbean or the Canary Islands.