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How to beat airport crowds at Christmas

[December 3rd 2008]

Flight cancellations and delays, long queues at check in and airport security, plus bad weather can make Christmas a frustrating time to travel, unless you follow some insider tips.

Flight price comparison site has compiled a top 10 list of how to beat the crowds at the airport this Christmas.

“The joy of Christmas can sometimes be quashed by the dread of facing airport crowds and hiked up prices if you’re spending your holidays abroad,” says Cheapflights travel expert, Nadine Hallak.

“However, with a few tricks, you can turn this chore into a joy and pay half price on your plane tickets while you’re at it. Read on to take advantage of some insider tips,” Hallak adds.

Top tip to beat the airport crowds is to travel at unsociable times. The advice is to book early morning or late night flights or even to travel on Christmas Day. This way it is possible to enjoy speedy security checks, empty departure lounges and deserted flights.

Peak travel days should also be avoided. Last year the weekend before Christmas was the busiest time to travel, and this year it is likely to be again. Flying direct is also sound advice, as it means you avoid the risk of missing flight connections or experiencing delays at connecting airports.

It also pays to look at other airports rather than automatically flying from your nearest airport. Flying from smaller, regional airports often means less traffic congestion, cheaper airport parking and shorter queues at check in, security and passport control.

Another time saving ploy is to check in online. Many airlines now actively encourage online check in and it can certainly be a way of avoiding long queues.

Booking your airport parking in advance is another top tip. Airport parking spaces can be sparse over the Christmas period so booking well in advance gives peace of mind and also means you don’t have to wait in a queue on the day you arrive at the airport.

The final piece of advice is to leave plenty of time. Airport operator BAA recommends that you arrive at least two hours before your flight. Allow plenty of extra time too to get to the airport as roads may be crowded and the weather poor.

Written by: Nick Purdom