Harriet Baskas writes for NBC News Travel, CNBC Road Warrior and other outlets and is the author of seven books, including Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You, and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas.During the holidays, fog, snow, extreme weather, long lines at security checkpoints and other challenges may conspire to leave you stuck at the airport longer than you planned – or ever imagined.
No need to let a delay ruin your trip. Here are some tips to help time fly by.
Get ready for battle
The best offense is a good defense and this applies all the more when traveling during the holidays. Try to get a good night’s sleep before your flight so you arrive at the airport on-time, well-rested and ready for anything. Pack snacks, a little “mad money” and your good humor.
Make technology your co-pilot
Sign up for airline flight alerts and have them sent by phone, email and/or text message. More than one delivery method can’t hurt. On Twitter, “follow” your airline and all airports on your itinerary. Increasingly, Twitter is where news, updates and alerts appear first.
Re-confirm your flight online and get a boarding pass 24 hours before your flight. Mobile boarding passes are great, but print a paper copy just in case.
Prepare for the security checkpoint “experience” by making sure you and your carry-on are TSA-ready. Review the prohibited items list at TSA.gov (http://www.tsa.gov/), see if you qualify for TSA PreCheck (http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/tsa-precheck-how-it-works) and remember there are now rules that expedite the checkpoint passage for kids 12 and younger and adults 75 and older.
Access the amenities
Many airports now have their own apps and robust websites to guide you to upscale shops, fine-dining restaurants and bars offering everything from wine and tequila flights to massages.
During the holidays, airports often offer entertainment by carolers and musical groups, There may be photo ops with Santa and his elves, complimentary gift-wrapping, and free candy canes or other treats. Retail shops at the airport may also offer special discounts. Travelers should check the airport’s website in advance to see what they may be able to take advantage of.
Here are some other ways to make good use of your time stuck at the airport:
Harriet Baskas writes for NBC News Travel, CNBC Road Warrior and other outlets and is the author of seven books, including Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You, and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas.