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Sunday 17 December 2023

The very worst time of the year to fly is right now

For the next two weeks there is one place experienced travellers will be looking to avoid at all costs: their local airport.

The holiday period is now officially in full swing, with most flights filled to capacity and airports full of once-a-year flyers. This is the time when amateurs take to the skies. 

That will include people who think they can take their suitcase with them as hand luggage; people who try to take knives and other sharp objects through security, people who think they can board at their leisure, and folks who think they can behave on a plane the same way that they behave in their backyard.

With airports cutting down on costs, experienced travellers know that this is time of the year when airports turn into circuses.

And even smaller airports like Hobart are expecting to handle over 10,000 passengers a day over the silly season - far more than normal.

The chaos will not be confined to Australia, but right around the world.

Australia got off to a good start over the weekend, however, when dozens of flights in and out of Brisbane Airport were delayed or cancelled after a significant storm lashed the south-east of Queensland causing major impact to the national flight network.

In the US, travel organisation the AAA expects 115.2 million people will take a trip or return home for the holidays during the 10 days between December 23 and New Year’s Day.

That is up just over 2% up on last year.

“Desire to get away is stronger than we have seen in a very long time,” said AAA spokesperson Aixa Diaz.

“People are willing to adjust their budgets in other areas of their life, but they want to keep traveling.”

The Thanksgiving Day holiday saw a single-day record of 2.9 million passengers on Sunday, November 26.

Trade group Airlines for America predicts that 39 million people will fly between December 20 and January 2.

It expects the busiest peak days could see over three million air travellers for the first time.

Be prepared for some horror stories.

Image: Anand Balaji,  

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