Santa’s sleigh isn’t the only way to fly this year!

“So Jay, where are you headed next?”

It’s one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since March and my answer has remained the same:

“Somewhere! But nothing’s booked yet!”

Well have to wait to eat more pastries in Lyon, France for just a little bit longer!

Even in a non-pandemic year, there have been some Octobers that have come and gone and my wife and I still aren’t sure where we’re heading for a Christmas vacation. Some years, it’s because we’re waiting on a good flight deal or cheap air tickets (SEO value), other times it’s trying to line up two vacation schedules.

This year is like no other and destinations we’d love to see are currently closed to American tourists. So here are the six things you should know when you decide you’re ready to fly: (just a heads up, this information is current as of October 2020 and subject to change)

1. Airfare prices are generally lower than normal for November and December to US destinations.

If you’re wondering whether we’re the procrastinators this year because we haven’t booked our flights yet, this Washington Post article confirms we’re not alone. Many people who would usually have their travel booked already haven’t clicked the purchase button yet on their flight. As a result, airfare prices are pretty good!  If there’s any bright spot in this year, it’s that itinerary change fees have been shelved and airlines are more flexible than ever. Joining Southwest (who has never had a change fee), United announced that they are also doing away with them permanently. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have also eliminated change fees on various ticket types. 

A foggy Christmas afternoon in Hilton, SC with just us and the beach!

Consider visiting holiday destinations that actually see fewer visitors around the holidays.  One of our favorite trips was spending Christmas 2015 in Hilton Head/Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA. We stayed in a 4.5 star hotel for $100 that was $350+ during high season… and had the beach to ourselves!  And, CVG has direct flights to both destinations and you can’t go wrong with a beach holiday. (SEO value)

TIP: Check the Jet with Jay Deals page to see where you can fly for less from CVG

Remembering simpler times... 2019. Hotel Estherea in Amsterdam offered incredible Christmas treats each night during our trip.

2. What might be a little different at the airport when you travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas

Good question! And I wish I could answer that with 100% certainty, but policies are changing on a daily basis.  I recommend checking CVGAirport.com along with the website for the airport you are traveling to for parking information, TSA wait times, delays, construction, and other up to the minute information.

A few things that are a little different right now:

  • You’ll need to wear your mask in the airport and on the plane. So, make sure it’s a comfy one!
  • Several states and cities advise or require travelers to quarantine upon arrival so it’s a good idea to double-check before you fly! (We had to scrap a last minute trip to Chicago, as the City of Chicago has an Emergency Travel Order and listed Kentucky as a state that required a 14-day quarantine upon arrival)
  • The TSA says it’s cool to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer on the plane with you. It will need to be packed in a separate bag from your regular carry-on liquids.
  • Bring the disinfecting wipes. It’s cool. Even the larger size containers are OK, but just be advised they’ll likely be screened separately.
  • Policies and procedures are changing… frequently! CVG Airport maintains a great page in their Fly Healthy section to help travelers.  Check Out com/FlyHealthy – and click on the Resource link or the Airline Info links to get answers to your questions before you depart.

TIP: Even before corona times, I always put my phone, wallet, keys, change in a zippered pocket in my carry-on bag when going through security.  It always helps me make sure I don’t forget something in the bin and limits the amount of shared surfaces your personal stuff comes into contact with.

Hand sanitizer available throughout CVG Airport.

 3. Travel insurance = Peace of mind

It’s a personal decision and comes down to how much risk you’re willing to accept for a trip being cancelled or rescheduled.  Travel insurance options vary greatly, from simple blanket health coverage to 100% cancel-and-get-a-full-refund plans (spoiler alert: those are REALLY expensive!)  Most health insurance plans you get from your work don’t cover anything once you leave the country.  For us, we never leave the US without an international medical insurance policy. The cost varies based on your destination; our last trip to Europe in December 2019 including the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Hungary cost $48 us for a $0 deductible policy with up to $1,000,000 in medical coverage. Talk with your insurance agent for a policy quote from a trusted provider.

We spent last Christmas in Europe and really enjoyed the Christmas Market in Bratislava, Slovakia.

4. Bringing presents with you?  Totally cool, but don’t wrap them too nicely!

The TSA is totally cool with bringing most presents on a plane… keyword is most.  It’s important to note that these will be screened like any other piece of luggage, so they may need to be unwrapped if they need further inspection.  I’d suggest a gift box that can be easily resealed.  Christmas lights are also Santa and TSA approved as well.  Beware of bringing snow globes back with you, if they contain more than 3.4 ounces of liquid and don’t fit into a quart sized resealable bag, they will need to be checked.

 

TIP: If you’re traveling with a menorah (Happy Hanukkah!), be sure to leave the lighter at home and make sure any oil you’re bringing follows the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on liquids. Find more TSA Holiday tips, complete with animated gifs here.

Exploring the streets of Montreal, Canada in 2019. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to visit our neighbors to the north again soon and have a trip to Toronto planned for April 2021.

5. Florida remains an excellent low-cost option for holiday travel

CVG has non-stop flights to twelve different destinations in Florida and six more cities are just one stop away. Yea, 16 travel options in one state!  There’s a lot of competition among cities to get you to visit them which means low airfare for you. And it’s not just budget airlines like Allegiant and Frontier offering low fares, I’ve been watching flights on American and Delta for under $100 roundtrip including a carry-on!  Southwest is putting some great deals out there too.  Keep an eye on the Jay’s Deal’s page to find the lowest airfare and destination ideas for your next trip!

Surfs up at the Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, FL (2017)

6. Book now to save BIG in 2021!

I’ve been spotting some really great deals for Spring 2021. Our much-loved CVG to Paris direct flight returns spring 2021 with non-stop service four times per week on Delta.  If there’s a destination you have your eye on for next year, use your favorite platform (KAYAK, Google Flights, etc.) to set a deal alert so when a flight goes on sale, you’ll be the first to know.

 

Don’t want to stress about the details of a trip? Vacation Express and Apple Vacations make it easy with their airfare and hotel package deals. It’s a great way to save time and a bunch of money!

Bonus activity: find a crisp Fall day to check out the free viewing area at CVG.  There is plenty of room for the family to enjoy watching the planes takeoff and land!

The Airplane Viewing Area (AVA) at CVG Airport - one of my favorite spots to just sit and relax!

When you’re ready to fly, CVG is ready for you!  Make sure to check out the Fly Healthy section of the site for the most up-to-date information on keeping you and your family safe as you head out on your next flight.

You’ve got options, so take advantage of the increasing flights from CVG – check out the latest nonstop destinations here.

It’s a clean environment – check out this video about the clean air quality on planes or this article which quotes a Department of Defense study noting the “COVID risk on planes is ‘virtually non-existent’.”

Mask up… wheels up!

-Jay