Holiday-travel survival guide


(eTN) – Taking a flight at Christmas-New Year? It’s the second-busiest travel period of the year after Thanksgiving. Here are some tips on everything from making flight connections to coping with lost luggage.

Check flight times: Check flight arrivals and departures before going to the airport. Contact the airline or check Sea-Tac airport’s real-time flight information at

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

Delays: Be prepared for flight delays; bad weather in the Midwest or East Coast can snarl air travel nationwide. Pack snacks, especially if you’re traveling with children. Take the airline’s phone number with you; it can be quicker to rebook a flight by phoning than at the crowded airline ticket counters at airports.

Lost luggage : Airlines are especially prone to lose checked suitcases at busy periods such as Christmas.

How long should you wait to get your bags before giving up and filing a lost luggage claim? Most airlines will allow you to seek compensation after 10 days. If the airline pays then subsequently finds the luggage, it will return it to you but likely won’t ask that the money be returned. Just be sure to report your bag missing before you leave the airport; otherwise your missing-luggage claim may not be accepted.

Pack lightly: To avoid lost luggage, try traveling with a carry-on bag only. You’ll also avoid the long waits at the airports’ luggage carousels.

Don’t wrap: Remember to fly with any Christmas gifts in your carry-on bag unwrapped; they may need to be checked by security staff.

Carry-on rules: Heed the 3-1-1 rule for liquids and gels in carry-on luggage — they must be in containers no bigger than three ounces. All containers must fit in one clear, resealable, quart-size plastic bag with only one bag permitted per passenger. For more on Transportation Security Administration air-travel regulations, check phone 866-289-9673.

Carry your valuables : Pack all medications and valuables — documents, jewelry or pricey gifts — in carry-on luggage. Lock any checked luggage with a TSA-approved lock to inhibit pilfering.

Beware of some connections: Found a great deal by buying connecting flights on different airlines to your ultimate destination? If those tickets are nonrefundable, don’t expect any sympathy or help if you miss a connection.

If you’re flying on one ticket, the airline or airlines involved are bound to try to help you if a connection is missed. But if you have two tickets, you are considered a new passenger each time you show up at a ticket counter.