Air travel during the Thanksgiving holidays can be stressful under normal circumstances, but in 2020 there are new travel protocols in place and a lot of people may not have been traveling much this year at all.

airport at holidays

If you follow these easy tips, you’ll sail through the airport like a pro! Read on for your holiday air travel playbook.

Book Flights with Confidence
The airlines did away with change and cancellation fees earlier this year, and for now, that policy is holding strong. In past years, you might have found yourself in a real bind if you needed to cancel. Not so in 2020! Book with peace of mind.

Pack Thoughtfully
It’s always a great idea to pack so airport security doesn’t have to rifle through your bags. Don’t wrap presents if you can help it. Liquids should be 3.4 oz. or less and they should all be placed in a 1 quart plastic bag. Hand sanitizer is the exception – you’re allowed a 12 oz. bottle. Do not bring any sharp objects. Wear slip on shoes and bring a breathable mask (required on flights these days if you’re over 2 years of age).

Is it Time to Opt into TSA Pre-Check?
Any program that allows you to fly through security faster with less time spent waiting in lines is a good thing in 2020. You’re not required to remove shoes, jackets, or laptops, wait times are remarkably shorter (only 5 minutes according to the TSA Pre-Check site), and a 5-year membership is just $85.

Manage Your Check-In Like a Pro
24 hours before your flight you should check in online and get your boarding pass sent to your smartphone. If you can fly carry-on only, all the better. You’ll breeze through the airport and minimize your touchpoints. Try to give yourself ample time to navigate the airport. While crowds might be lighter this year, we predict busy airports will likely happen.

Manage Your Own Expectations
Covid-19 has made the airlines strip down the in-flight extras quite a bit. You may want to bring your own snacks and prepare for the in-flight service to be pared back in order to minimize contact with flight attendants. Go with the flow and remind yourself this is temporary and necessary.

Keep Boarding Pass and I.D. Handy
You’re going to be asked for your boarding pass a few times, so lots of people these days simply download it onto their phones where they can be set under a scanner at security and at boarding. This is our preference, because it eliminates the need to keep track of another document – you can’t lose it if it’s on your phone.Thanksgiving week is not a great time to be printing a boarding pass at check-in, though the self-service kiosks help keep things moving.

Keep the Weather Top of Mind
If you are traveling to or from an airport with frequent bad weather, or are connecting in a city with such an airport, it’s a good idea to either have a backup plan. Such airports tend to suffer from flight delays and sometimes even cancellations during the busy holiday season.

If you happen to live in a city that experiences frequent flight delays over the holidays, one pro tip is to book one of the first flights out on any given day. Statistically, the earliest flights of the day are those that leave on time most frequently.

Enjoy Intuitive Boarding
We’ve seen a positive shift in boarding procedures across many airlines, which we think is a vast improvement. Most airlines are now boarding in smaller groups from the back of the plane to the front.You can help the whole process by social distancing in the boarding area and staying seated until your small group is called.

Have a Baggage Strategy in Place
These days, baggage considerations are a not insignificant part of air travel planning. A lot of people prefer to skip checked bags to avoid the extra cost, to avoid risk of lost luggage and just to help get you through the airport more quickly. If you can do it, great!

What you want to avoid is last minute adding a checked bag or two without having the additional costs in mind. Just make sure to check the airline’s baggage policy to ensure you’re not going to incur additional unplanned costs at check-in. They can sometimes be significant, depending on the airline. The low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier charge the most for any baggage additions at the airport on the day of travel.

Remember the Upsides of Flying
Airplanes have never been cleaner. Air filtration is excellent. Flying is still an amazing way to get around the country. You’re going to see your friends and family! Even if there are inconveniences, try to have gratitude in the small things. Happy Holidays from CheapAir!


  1. I like how you mentioned social distancing in the boarding area until the group is called. My brother and I need to fly to Colorado before Thanksgiving to spend it with our family. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind as I look for the cheapest tickets.

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