Traveling over the holidays can be stressful, but a little planning can make the trip less cumbersome. The first step is getting the tickets, which can prove to be a bigger obstacle because of today’s economy than it has been in the past.
Some repercussions of the economic situation have been the reduction of flights offered and passenger load. Last minute traveling has also become more expensive because there are fewer seats on fewer planes.
According to Felice Freed, a travel agent with Pepper Travel in Mesa, the most common pitfall in holiday travel is waiting too long to buy tickets.
“Airline tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas should be purchased four to six months in advance,” Freed said.
After tickets are purchased and bags are packed, all that’s left is getting to the airport and on the plane. But according to Rodriguez this may not be as easy as it sounds.
“Try not to enter the airport from the east if you can. We have construction on the east side and roadway restrictions,” she said.
On an average day, Sky Harbor Airport will service around 100,000 passengers, but during the holidays that number can go up to 130,000 passengers causing a significant increase in traffic.
Terminal parking is $4.00 an hour and $25.00 a day. The economy parking lots are $10.00 a day with shuttle service to the terminals, but spaces are not always available.
Sky Harbor Airport also offers “cell phone” lots for those awaiting a flight’s arrival. These lots are free as long as the driver is waiting in the vehicle.
During the holiday travel rush, it’s important to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to departure and Rodriguez suggests using the airlines’ self check kiosks to check baggage and pick up boarding passes.
“It takes half the time of waiting in line at the full service counter,” she said.
Lost items are another concern of holiday travel. The most common items left are keys and cell phones.
To avoid losing any items, Rodriguez said, “Label your baggage inside and out, and tape a business card to your laptop.”
During the holiday season it’s always best to make sure arrangements are in order by planning ahead of time.