Thought traveling standby to your favorite winter destinations during the Holidays couldn’t be done? Think again. Here are five tips for flying standby during the holidays that will get you where you want to be in time for the celebrations to begin.
1. Fly on off-peak days.
The week before the week of Thanksgiving, the first two weeks of December, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are your best bets for getting on a flight wherever you choose to fly. The big exception: There is a specific event happening that would be a major draw to that city. Check for concerts, sporting events, fairs and other goings-on that might cause flights to fill up unexpectedly. Otherwise, you can count on most people to be traveling the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas, which you’ll want to avoid. And, in general, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the easiest days to fly standby.
2. Don’t expect to fly in the day of your event.
If you are attending a holiday event, allow yourself a day or two extra to arrive. If you’re staying in a hotel, book only refundable reservations and read the fine print on the hotel’s cancellation policy.
3. Have a back-up plan.
Always allow yourself at least three flights to board. If there are only three flights, show up for the first one available. If you are an airline employee or family member, be prepared to buy a discount ticket on another airline if you must travel that day. Have those flight numbers and times available so you know how quickly you need to get to another terminal after you’ve exhausted all possible flights on your own airline.
4. Don’t check your luggage.
In case you have to switch to another airline or you don’t make any flights at all, you don’t want your luggage to arrive without you. This means traveling light – carry-on only. Wearing lots of layers allows you to bring more bulky items of clothing like a sweater, coat and scarf. If you need to exchange gifts when you arrive, plan to give gift cards, shop after you arrive at your destination, or order online and have the gifts delivered directly to your destination.
5. Don’t give up.
Even if the flight is oversold, it is still possible you could get on. Airlines expect no-shows and even when everyone has checked in, it doesn’t mean they will all make it to the gate on time. Sad for them, good for you.