With the kids off school, March Break is the perfect time for a family getaway — and a lot of people share that desire. In 2017, Toronto Pearson International Airport estimated 130,000 people travelled through their terminals the Friday before March Break officially began. With such huge crowds, carting the family off to the airport may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
“Despite the chaos, March Break is a terrific time for families to get away, relax and make memories,” says Susan Catto, Head of Publishing for Travelzoo (NASDAQ: TZOO) in Canada. “Travel brings families together and the change of pace and location lets everyone do a mid-winter reset. Navigating your way through a busy airport may seem daunting, but with some planning and foresight it becomes much less so.”
Susan offers the following advice for getting through the airport as Canadians rise to the occasion for March Break.
• Rise and shine — Book the earliest flight you can, or, fly a day before or after the actual break. When booking flights with a connection and have a choice of airport, choose the one farther south — less of a chance of a weather delay. And keep in mind that airports will be busier over the holidays, so allow some extra time to connect.
• Pre-order kids meals — Even if you’re in the last row of the plane, the kids meals come out first and include food kids will likely eat — and are served with little activity bags.
• Give yourself plenty of time — Giving yourself more time than necessary can ease the process at the airport. If you give yourself 1.5 hours from your door to board without kids, give yourself three to four hours with them.
• Security isn’t that scary — When you’re with your kids you can bring baby food, formula, breast milk, nursery water, etc… just about everything you need. It will get tested and inspected, but you shouldn’t have a problem. Kids can keep their shoes on, but everything, including favourite blankets and stuffed animals, has to go through the x-ray, so it's a good thing to discuss that ahead of time if attachment issues are a concern.
• Early boarding — Do yourself and other passengers a favour. Take the time to get settled, organize your stuff, wipe down the armrests and make friends with the flight attendants.
• If worse comes to worse, think ahead — Busy holiday travel can occasionally mean chaotic airport runs and oversold flights. If your family’s plans are flexible (and you’re travelling with teens rather than tots), capitalize on oversold situations by offering to get on the next flight out — you’ll get a hefty travel voucher and can usually negotiate other perks such as priority lounge access or even business-class seats for your new flight (based on availability).
Don’t let the fear of airports and their chaotic nature stop you from making the most of your vacation time this March Break.