Up Up and Away on Christmas Day

Ever wondered what it is like to fly on Christmas Day?

ChristmasFamily circumstances offered the chance for an alternative Christmas celebration and as soon as I realised that airfares drop on 25 December, I planned a short break in the USA. My husband and I decided to visit family for 3 days in Salt Lake City and then spend 2 days exploring Zion National Park.

I booked a fly drive package through specialist tour operator and Silver Travel Advisor partner, American Sky.

We chose Virgin Atlantic flights into and out of Las Vegas, a convenient gateway for Utah, with car hire for the duration.

There are a few things to consider when travelling at this time of year, firstly that there is no train service to the UK airports, although some National Express services do operate. We chose to drive to Gatwick and park at the airport, needless to say at 8.00 am we sailed through on empty roads.

Gatwick was very quiet and so much easier to pass through than normal, no queues or crowds and plenty of places to sit. Most of the restaurants, bars and shops were open, albeit on shortened hours. With a fraction of flights departing, our flight boarded early and we had high expectations of taking off ahead of time. Sadly a problem with the cargo hold meant we had a 90-minute delay but we did make up time during the flight.

ChristmasVirgin offered a Christmas lunch option so expectations were high! But sadly everyone on the very full flight chose this option and it soon ran out, leaving us with a tasty, but not so festive, vegetarian curry.

Las Vegas airport was equally as quiet as Gatwick, but credit to US Border Control – they had a full compliment of officers on duty so we sailed through.

Car pick up was easy, thankfully we had booked a large SUV which we were grateful for as we had a lot of driving ahead and the possibility of harsh weather conditions.

The main disappointment of the day was not being able to find anywhere to eat on arrival. We drove 2 hours to our overnight stop in St George Utah and it gradually dawned on us that everywhere was shut. We were staying at a Hampton Inn that did not have a restaurant. Eventually we came across a Jack in the Box Burger Bar and tucked into a very alternative Christmas dinner!

Overall I would recommend flying on Christmas Day if you are looking for a complete change of routine and want to save a bit of money.

Top Tips:

  • Book airport parking well in advance.
  • Try and stay in a hotel with a restaurant on arrival and check in advance if they will be serving food.
  • Book flights early, seats sell fast once the fares are announced.
  • Don’t be tempted to take wrapped gifts on board the flight – you won’t get them through security!

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Sally Dowling

Travel writer

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