How to Make Your Holiday Air Travel More Bearable

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There’s not much that any traveler can do about the crowds and long lines at airports during the holiday season. But there are ways to cope.

Stay current on flight and airport status. Track the flight status through the airline’s app, and monitor the airport’s Twitter feed.

Sign up for TSA PreCheck. Frequent travelers are nearly unanimous in their recommendations of this program, which gives expedited passage through security to travelers who have undergone background screening.

There’s still time to sign up before this holiday season if you move quickly: The agency says there is about a two-week wait for appointments, and turnaround is about a week more if your background check is clear.

Fly on the least busy days and times. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day tend to have lighter traffic than other times during the holidays, said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, an air travel app.

An analysis by Hopper of Thanksgiving week travel patterns finds that, as a general rule, traffic at airports in Western states peaks early in the morning, as travelers try to bridge the time zone difference. Hubs like Chicago and Atlanta also tend to have busy mornings, while big international jumping-off points on the East Coast have an evening “rush hour” as travelers begin overnight journeys.

Choose your low-fare carrier carefully. A cheaper fare can come with drawbacks, said Gary Leff, co-founder of Low-fare carriers don’t have as much redundancy in their schedules or the same kind of partner networks as their mainstream counterparts, so a delay or a cancellation could mean being stranded for days rather than hours.

Check prohibited carry-on items and wrapped gifts. The Transportation Security Administration says that some security bottlenecks around the holidays happen because infrequent travelers don’t know what they cannot carry onboard the plane with them. (See the agency’s rundown of prohibited items here.)

If you bring holiday gifts in your carry-on luggage, don’t wrap them, in case T.S.A. agents want to see what’s inside.

Beware the short layover. Missing a connection is bad enough, but with planes packed to capacity, finding a seat on a later flight can be a challenge, Mr. Leff warned.

Also consider that while you may be able to sprint to your gate and make your connection, any bags you checked might not move as swiftly. That could leave you at your destination on time, but without your luggage.