How to fly home for Thanksgiving

Tips and tricks for students flying home this Thanksgiving break. Photo courtesy of travelandleisure.com. 

ASHLEY CALLAGHAN | STAFF REPORTER | acallaghan@butler.edu 

For many students, Thanksgiving break marks the beginning of the fall semester’s final stretch. With only 10 days of classes between break and final exams, Butler students, faculty and staff enjoy a week off, which means that several students are flying home, some by themselves for the first time. Below is a list of tips for students flying this week. 

1. Decide where you want to fly. You most likely already know your final destination, but some air travel, specifically to less populated areas, requires a layover or two before you reach it. Michael Fox, a Delta Air Lines Captain based in Seattle flying the Airbus 220, said that his favorite airports for layovers are Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. 

“I judge airport layovers based on food options,” Fox said. “I think SEA has the best food. MSP has good food but you have to know where to go, like the secret Mediterranean place in the United gates.”

2. Decide when you want to fly. Fox recommends avoiding the Monday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday after. Your flight schedule can be planned around Butler’s academic calendar.

3. Purchase a plane ticket. According to Fox, the best time to purchase is about two months in advance of the flight. However, if you still don’t have your plane tickets for the holidays, you can often find discounted rates on websites like Expedia and KAYAK

4. Pack your bags. Be sure to check the weather forecast for your final destination and make sure that your luggage meets airline requirements

“Ensure your carry-on is actually carry-on size,” Fox said. “Many people show up with bags that are too large to carry on. Checking your large bag is a good way to make your travel day easier. Many airlines have loyalty programs that include free checked bags.”

Although break provides many Butler students with time to relax, some will need to do work as well. 

Emily Johnson, a first-year entrepreneurship and innovation major, said students should pack their backpacks and laptops so they can complete assignments over break because final exams are quickly approaching. 

5. Check into your flight. Most airlines allow passengers to do this online anytime starting 24 hours before and up to 45 minutes before their flight departs. This enables you to skip the check-in kiosk and head right to security when you arrive at the airport.

6. Get your boarding pass. Although you could wait to do this until you arrive at the airport, you can also print it at Butler or download it on your phone. 

7. Grab a mask and head to the airport. Airports currently have similar mask policies to Butler academic buildings. At this time, masks must be properly worn in the airport and for the entire duration of the flight. Keep in mind that Butler’s Student Government Association will cover the cost of an Uber to and from the Indianapolis International Airport during the three days before and the three days after Thanksgiving break. 

8. Go through security. Remember to remove your shoes and jacket before you go through the metal detector. Also, take any liquids, computers and food out of your bag. The airport provides plastic bins for all of these items. Once your bags have been through the conveyor belt, you can grab them and head to your gate.

9. Efficiently make your way through the airport. Fox recommends using the free app provided by your airline to keep track of your flight status, gate location and checked bag carousel location. 

Johnson said she thinks the most stressful part of air travel is maneuvering through the airport. However, she has found that arriving about two hours before her flight gives her time to get through security, find her gate and purchase food if she is hungry.

Ben Whiteside, a first-year exploratory studies major, said the most stressful part of air travel for him is not being able to control the unknowns, especially when you are forced to change your travel plans. 

“In situations where you really have no control over flights getting canceled and whatnot, I have been told to simply be overly kind to the staff that helps with rebooking flights,” Whiteside said. “People will bend over backward for you if you show them gratitude for their work. This gives you the best chance to make the best out of a bad situation that air travelers commonly face.”

10. Fly to your final destination and confirm your ride from the airport. Your family and friends can track your flight status using Flight Tracker. If you are planning on using a rideshare app, it is recommended that you reserve your ride early due to the heavy demand during holiday weeks. Most airports require cars to wait in a “cell phone lot” and quickly pull up to the terminal for pickup. This applies to both personal rides and rideshare. 

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