Posted: May 13, 2016

Barcelona airport crowds

When it seems as though the busiest days to travel are on every month of the calendar, it can become pretty overwhelming for some people to hop on a plane. Like Disneyland, airports are full of lines, people, and more lines. More than 8 million people make their way across the sky every day, and that’s a lot to compete with. However, unlike the overpopulated theme park, there are ways to cheat the system behind crowded airports.

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything when it comes to booking flights. If you’re goal is to avoid as much airport anarchy as possible, you have to plan ahead. Your best bet for a smooth travel experience and a window seat is during the middle of the week, specifically Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Vacation departures consume weekends, business travel booms on Mondays, and people come home toward the end of the week, making Tuesdays and Wednesdays the least popular days to fly. If your schedule allows you to be a bit more flexible, take advantage of the decreased demand for plane tickets during the middle of the week.

Early birds get the short lines

Whether you’re a morning person or not, it’s true the ‘early bird gets the worm’ when flying. Booking early morning flights will almost always reward you with lower prices, shorter lines, and an on-time arrival. The only downside to morning flights is the added hassle of waking up before the sun does, but you’ll be coasting through security check and sleeping on the plane in no time. According to Forbes, ideal flights are scheduled to land between 6:00 and 8:00 in the morning, but if you can’t hit that window, remember that any morning flight is better off than the evening. Air traffic comes into full swing after a.m. flights, causing delays and lines for the rest of the day.

“Flightmare” Before Christmas

It’s not breaking news that holidays dominate travel throughout the year and can make going on vacation a living nightmare. Flying during this time is never fun, and all it takes is one storm to wreak havoc and test the sanity of a population of travelers. In fact, November and December are home to a few of the worst days of the year to travel. If you find yourself lucky enough to be going out of town over the holidays, try avoiding November 25th and December 23rd, as those are top priority travel days for every airline. Beating the holiday rush isn’t easy, but there is a dead week in December that comes right after Thanksgiving weekend. For most airports, this time seems to be the least busy during the holidays for most airports, and the best time to book if you can make the early trip. Keep in mind that Sundays are the popular days to fly home, so plan on leaving Saturday and avoid some of the mayhem. Slightly adjusting your vacation time frame can be the difference between a “Merry Christmas” and a “bah humbug”.

To sum up

Traveling makes even-tempered people act insane. Add crowds and you exacerbate the situation. Smart travelers will plan ahead to avoid the chaos, and get in and out of the airport without breaking a sweat. Use your smartphone to check in online, get to the airport at least an hour early, and do yourself a favor and book flights during the middle of the week and before the sun comes up. Plan vacations accordingly, preferably avoiding holidays and busy weekends like Memorial Day and the 4th of July. Better yet, travel during the ‘offseason’ months at the beginning of the year, and you’re sanity is sure to remain in check. Don’t settle for less behind the guy who walks through security check with a belt on.

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