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Holiday Air Travel Checklist

So, you’re watching the clock and ready to escape for your end-of-year vacation. Frequent flyers don’t need a reminder of the boring basics (prescription meds and a change of clothes in carry-on: check!) from their regular travel checklist. Here are four more timely tips for this peak travel season from the Fodor’s community. Safe and happy travels!

1. Unwrap your gifts.
You read that right: don’t wrap your gifts if you’re flying. They may look pretty, but If TSA personnel need to inspect your packages, they will unwrap them. (Advance planners know to ship gifts ahead to avoid shopping at the last minute and lugging stuff all over.)
Community Tip: On our Forums, boojis_mom suggested "using those handy gift bags where you can cover over the present with colored crepe paper and simply lift off the paper to show the bag’s contents."

2. Prepare your entertainment and electronics for delays.
In addition to packing extra patience, all plugged-in travelers should be ready for times when electronics aren’t allowed: bring assorted reading material like a magazine, book, sodoku or crossword book (and pen), for times when you have to turn off your e-reader, like taking off and landing.
Community Tip: Fodor’s editor Salwa_J also has a reminder for energy boosts en route: "Keep a cell phone charger in a carry-on bag—you can plug in your phone as you talk if there’s a long delay and you never know when you’ll lose luggage."

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3. Consider a car service to and from the airport.
Finding a cab in peak travel seasons can be hard. To avoid being stranded at such times, book a car service. Unless you splurge on a stretch limo, it probably won’t cost that much more than a regular cab.
Community Tip: On the Forums, hawksbill summarizes how to avoid confusion when booking: "One might say to one’s friend ‘I’m going to call the limo company now,’ but when you actually call the place, you had better tell them ‘please send a car,’ not ‘please send a limo.’"

4. Get insider info about potential delays.
Who could possibly know more about avoiding flight delays and airport congestion than The National Association of Air Traffic Controllers? Their easy-to-use Web site for travelers, Avoid Delays, has information on everything from the best time of day to fly out of a specific airport to the best airports to connect through, plus up-to-the-minute flight delay data.
Community Tip: Fodorite Kay2 also knows that "Gate assignments do change and sometimes the gate agents are making announcements about delays, etc. that are not posted. So I usually check out the situation before I start my exercise of walking all the concourses end to end or hitting the stores or a restaurant."

Photo Credits: Gifts in airport security bin by iStockphoto / sjlocke.

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