Airlines

Last minute Thanksgiving travel tips for guests and hosts

Having an air travel strategy isn't just for the flier.

Having an air travel strategy isn't just for the flier.  (AP)

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