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What is it like to fly on Christmas Day?

December 26, 2013
Christmas Tree at Terminal 5
Christmas Tree at Terminal 5

Christmas Tree at JFK Terminal 5

“We’re glad you decided to fly Jet Blue on Christmas Day,” said the flight attendant at the front of the plane. “We have some of the best people in the business working with us.”

How pleasant!

“Unfortunately, most of our experienced people have taken the holiday off, “ he continued. “But we’re going to try our best to make your flight as pleasant as we can anyway.”

The passengers roared.

We had booked this flight departing from JFK Airport to Cancun on Christmas Day because every post offering travel advice on the web, even one of my own, suggests there are fewer crowds and holiday fare spikes are less ominous when you fly on Christmas Day. Still, we paid twice as much for our ticket than we had paid for the same route less than a month before.

Now that TSA doesn’t allow any wrapped presents in carry-ons, I wondered, aside from price, whether flying on Christmas was any different than flying any other day of the year. Here are a few of my observations:

Airline personnel 

If anyone was grumpy about having to work, they didn’t let on (except for one outlier at check-in). Everyone seemed to be in the spirit and some even dressed for the occasion.

Jet Blue Employee catches the spirit

Jet Blue Employee catches the spirit

Jet Blue Gate Employee with Reindeer Ears

Another Jet Blue Gate employee with reindeer ears

Airport terminal

The terminal was also “dressed up:” Wreathes above the gates, a Christmas tree in the lobby and a politically correct menorah as well.

Jerry at Terminal 5 JFK

Jerry at Terminal 5 JFK

One of the gate wreathes

One of the gate wreathes

Airport passengers

I had the mistaken impression that crowds would be fewer. Didn’t everyone who wanted to go someplace already get there by Christmas Eve? Not exactly. The roads were clear but there were lines of cars at drop-off, lines at check-in, long lines going through security (although shorter through TSA pre-check (and gaggles of families with their kids in tow.)

No wrapped gifts but plenty of travelers with Santa hats

No wrapped gifts but plenty of travelers with Santa hats

Another happy traveler

Another happy traveler

More long lines await us at immigration in Cancun

More long lines await us at immigration in Cancun

Holiday spirit

My husband and I had booked window and aisle seats on our Jet Blue flight (Row 5, seats A & C) hoping that the middle seat would remain vacant. No such luck when you fly on Christmas Day.

To our dismay, a visitor from Stockholm sat down in the seat between us, also on his way to Mexico on vacation. When he extended his arm forward through to Row 4 to caress his girlfriend, I decided to pay it forward. Jerry and I have been married 32 years and we’re still so in love but I decided, since it was Christmas and we have more time to travel, to exchange my seat with hers so they could sit together.

If I were her age, I would have appreciated the Christmas gift.

Happy Holidays to all!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Beautiful story….have fun in Cancun xoxox

    • Irene S. Levine
      Irene S. Levine
      December 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks, Jacqueline! Best wishes for the New Year~

  • Reply
    December 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Beautiful story, Irene! You have such a big heart.

    I love the PC menorah. My office complex is not so PC. It’s all Christmas and lots of it.

    You look so nice when you travel! I’m of the yoga pants, hoodie, ponytail contingent.

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