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7 Things You Need to Know About Holiday Travel This Year in Order to Survive

The holiday season, and thus holiday travel, are both in full swing. And while plenty of merriment and joy come along with the former, pounding headaches, stranded hours, and all sorts of dilemmas are associated with the latter. Most of this is just par for the course, and can’t be avoided when you’re one of the millions traveling during the two-month holiday season—but we’ve come up with a list of seven things you need to know in order to (almost) guarantee that you’ll at least survive your holiday travel plans.

2015 is the Busiest Holiday Travel Season Since 2007

AAA reports that the 2015 holiday season is the busiest for travel since 2007, which is not so surprising considering that 71 percent of adults say they will be traveling for either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s (or all three) this year.

For Christmas travel this year, Wednesday, December 23 is the busiest while Sunday, December 27, is the least.

About 5% of Holiday Flights Last Year Were Canceled

During the 2014 holiday travel season, five percent of flights with canceled—largely due to inclement weather. This season, be sure to stay up to date by signing up for text alerts from your airline—and follow the airlines on social media, as they’re often more likely to announce delays and cancelations here first. If your flight is canceled while you’re at the airport, get in line to speak to a representative, but also give the carrier’s customer service line a call; travelers who do this often get quicker service.

The Earlier Your Flight, the More Likely It Will Leave on Time

You never know when or why (or how) a flight may or may not be delayed or canceled, but if you book an early morning flight, chances are it will take off on time. In 2014, 91 percent of flights departing the U.S. between 7 and 8 a.m. took off on time.

Checking-In Early Helps

When you get the alert that you can now check into your flight, do it ASAP. Travel + Leisure reports that most airlines start at the bottom of the “check-in list” and work their way up when it comes to having to bump travelers from oversold flights. Checking in early also makes it easier to switch to a different seat.

The Best & Worst Airlines to Fly During the Holidays Are …

Forbes ranked the best and worst airlines for 2015 holiday travel. As it has time and time again, Frontier came in dead last, while Hawaiian took the top spot. Second place for the best travel experience among major airlines went to Delta.

Nearly 2 Million Bags are Lost, Damaged, or Stolen Every Holiday Season

In a 2012 study, Travel + Leisure found that about 1.8 million bags were lost, damaged, or stolen that year—and that’s just among domestic flights on major U.S. airlines. While those numbers have improved over the past several years, the chance that your checked bag won’t be at the carousel when you land most definitely exists. Our advice? Try to fit all your luggage into a carry-on whenever possible.

The Most Popular Holiday Destinations Are …

Often, your destination during the holiday season really isn’t up to you—you’re visiting family, or a certain location is a tradition, or you planned the trip months ago. But if you do have some leeway with where you’re headed, avoid New York City; it’s the most-visited holiday destination among North American travelers, meaning higher prices, longer waits, and more cancelations. Miami comes in second, followed by London, Los Angeles, and Chicago respectively.

—Jane Reynolds

This article was originally published by under the headline 8 Things You Need to Know About Holiday Travel This Year in Order to Survive . It is reprinted here with permission.

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