Book your flights as early as possible. Whether using award miles or buying tickets, the time to book air travel for the holiday season is as soon as you know which dates you plan to travel. The heaviest air travel days are before and after Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Ride in style. If you are using award miles and the flights or dates you want are either full or double the miles of typical reward travel, log out and back into the airline website to search for first class options on that date. Often, premium seating will be available and for the same amount of miles or points as coach.
Fly early in the day. The earlier in the day, the less chance of air traffic or ground delays. Also, most planes are at the gate overnight, so there is less risk that the arriving aircraft will arrive delayed or in need of service. Finally, with winter weather, early flights increase your odds of finding alternate flights if weather impacts travel. The FAA Flight Delay Information website from the Air Traffic Control System Command Center can help track delays during travel and is also helpful in identifying airports with the highest number of delays.
Have flexibility in dates of arrival/departure. While nobody enjoys traveling on a holiday, often Thanksgiving morning is an ideal time to fly to your destination because the herds of travelers have already passed through the airports. There is greater availability on most airlines if you can arrive a few days early or stay a few days later. Book a night or two at a bed and breakfast near your destination for a little alone time and let the other holiday travelers crowd the airports and planes.
Planning ahead and being flexible can help make your holiday travel easier and hopefully more enjoyable. Knowing the reservation systems and award programs can help maximize your hard-earned miles.