The holidays are coming and you know what that means: larger-than-normal crowds, wait times and lines at the airport. This is one time of year you absolutely don’t want to leave your airport parking plans to the last minute.
Approximately 70 percent of Americans say they have travel plans this Thanksgiving, and about half of those travelers say it’s the first time they have traveled during the holiday season since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to USA Today. Almost 25 million seats scheduled to depart on flights from U.S. airports during the Thanksgiving holiday week, representing a six percent increase from 2019.
In light of this, early planning for your vacation is key as you eagerly look forward to seeing beloved friends and family for turkey and pumpkin pie. Hopefully you have already booked your flight, which experts advise to do at least one to three months in advance for domestic flights and two to eight months in advance for international flights.
Now that you have your flight tickets booked, don’t forget about booking your DTW parking and valet service to coincide with your flight. If the planes will be filled to capacity the week of Thanksgiving, you can bet the parking lots will be too.
Make a plan now so that when the time comes to leave for the airport, you will feel calm, prepared and at ease as you head into the busy holiday weekend. Here are some tips on navigating the airport rush during the Thanksgiving holiday.
1. Keep an Eye on Your Flight
Keeping track of your flight reservation as we progress through November is critical. Don’t just wait till the night before to check the status. You should be checking it at least every week before you leave. Log into your account on the airline’s website and make sure your flight times, arrivals and departures are still the same. Check your seat assignments too.
Because airlines make tweaks to their schedules all the time, especially during the holiday rush, you should leave yourself plenty of time to make changes if you have to. If you don’t find out about an aircraft or flight change till the day before you leave, there’s not much you can do.
Here’s another pro tip. When you check in the day before, take a look at where your plane is coming from. You may be alerted to a potential delay before your airline even knows about it. For example, even though the weather where you are may be mild, the weather where your plane is coming from may be causing delays, such as blizzards in the Northeast.
To help you, try using apps like FlightAware.com to learn the status of your scheduled flight as well as the current location of the plane.
2. Check on Airport Lounges
There’s always a possibility of layovers and delays, especially around the holidays. Knowing in advance where you can rest and chill out in between can be a lifesaver, especially when you’re traveling with small kids. Many airports have private lounges that charge you to access and use. Check your credit card to see if they offer complimentary airport lounge access.
If not, inquire with the airport about what it would cost for a day pass, which could be between $30 and $50, with kids under 12 free. Sure, you could spend your extra hours waiting around in the food court at the airport, but if you’re looking for a quieter place to chill with perks, consider an airport lounge.
3. Understand Checked Bags vs. Carry-Ons
As you face the craziness of the DTW airport in a couple of weeks, take a beat to think about whether or not you want to hassle with the baggage claim area. As you probably know, this is often the most chaotic area of the whole airport when flights unload. Consider the possibility of using only carry-ons instead of checked bags. You’ll save money, time and sanity if you can get by with just a carry-on for each member of your party.
It will really depend on your party, how old each passenger is, and how long you’re traveling for. If you’re only going away for a few days and it’s just you and your spouse, for example, it’s possible to get by on carry-ons alone. If you have a large family with several small children and you’re vacationing for a whole week, this would prove problematic – not impossible, but a challenge for sure.
If you have older kids and teens that can take care of their own rolled luggage through the airport and everyone promises to pack efficiently, carry-ons are a good idea to avoid baggage claims. If it’s just not possible to avoid checking your bags, ask the airline if you get one bag free and what the charge is for the second bag.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to visit with friends and family far and wide, no doubt. But getting there can be stressful, especially as you plan out your parking strategy before you even set foot inside the airport. Scheduling valet parking is a smart choice to lower your stress level and give you peace of mind as you navigate the holiday airport rush.