Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is just around the corner. If you're flying across the state or the country, there's still a lot of planning that needs to be done. Many of us will either be house guests or hosts--and knowing what to expect is key. These travel tips will come in handy for both.
1. Pack light
Use a carry-on bag instead of a big suitcase.
--Good for guests: Most airlines do not charge a fee for carry-ons (exceptions: Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit). Another benefit: bags that travel with you are bags that don't get lost.
--Good for hosts: Less stuff to cram in your trunk (and house). Another benefit: If you're picking your guest up at the airport, the traveler with a carry-on can skip the baggage carousel and (hopefully) exit the terminal faster.
2. Stay connected to your airline
--Good for guests: Be certain your airline has your contact information so you can be notified in case of delays or cancellations. However, take delay information with a grain of salt; if a delay is caused by mechanical problems that get fixed sooner than expected and you're not at the gate when this happens, the plane will take off without you. Tip: follow the airline on Twitter, often the quickest way to get a response to any problem.
--Good for hosts: Ask your guest to also provide the airline with your contact information so you don't show up at the airport - on time - to meet a plane that's delayed for hours.
3. Get to the airport in plenty of time.
--Good for guests: Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year to fly and airports will be mobbed with crowds. This means a crush of cars at the airport plus long lines for boarding passes, baggage and security and numerous ways to get stuck in a queue. Delays like this can make you miss your flight and since planes fly at near-capacity these days, there's no guarantee there will be a seat for you on the next one.
--Good for hosts: Do you really want a house guest for another day?
4. Avoid security snafus
Know the TSA rules; if you're not sure if something is allowed through the checkpoint, you can find out with the TSA app (also on the website). Anything remotely liquid-like including homemade sauces, salsas, jellies or peanut butter (in containers larger than 3.4 ounces) is banned.
--Good for guests: Don't be forced to toss that homemade gift of jam from Grandma; ship it ahead with other goodies. And avoid tossing that bottle of wine for your host or hostess by picking up a local vintage. If you like to travel with water, bring an empty bottle from home and fill it up at an airport water station.
--Good for hosts: You get to pick a wine you actually want.
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site