Christmas at the airport.

santa_planeWhen you fly on a buddy pass you travel standby. Using a pass during the holiday season is a total crapshoot – or, in airline parlance, “not recommended.”

But I when I decided to visit my daughter for the holidays, I believed the traditional wisdom about flying on Dec. 24.

“Folks will already be where they want to be,” I kept hearing. “Plenty of room on the planes on Christmas Eve.”

Apparently a whole lot of people missed that memo.


When I got to the airport in Anchorage at it was packed. I’d planned to check my suitcase, but the drop-off-your-bag line was so long I couldn’t see the end of it. The Delsey goes with me, I decided, and headed toward security – and a similarly long line.

Fortunately my standby boarding pass said “TSA Prechk.” That’s not something I’d pay for, mind you, but I’ve been getting it a lot lately. Either I’ve got a good track record or the security system assumes that airline employees don’t give buddy passes to deadbeats. I sailed through in about 60 seconds – didn’t even have to take off my shoes! – and headed toward a concourse that was just as crowded as the bag drop-off area.


A very merry Chrismoose

Some glimpses from beyond the checkpoint:

A chunky, scowling Chihuahua, out of her travel carrier and wearing a Santa Claus hat. Or maybe she wasn’t scowling; perhaps it was just resting bitch face.

A ton of families, some of the kids whining and grizzling (it was really late, after all) and some of them super-stoked. The most excited ones were also wearing Santa hats, or blinking holiday-light necklaces, or what I swear were Christmas PJs (perhaps their parents were praying they’d sleep on the four-hour flight to Seattle).

Three brightly lit Christmas trees next to the airport moose – yes, we have an airport moose, a giant triumph of taxidermy. (An airport musk ox, too, plus a polar bear, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, tons of birds and probably some species I’m forgetting.) People were taking selfies with the festive ungulate.

Copies of “Your Playbook For Tough Times” at Mosquito Books (woot!).

Christmas music, from the sacred (“Adeste Fidelis”) to the annoying (“The Chipmunks Christmas Carol”).

A boy who looked to be about 7 years old clapping his hands at midnight: “Merry Christmas! Airport Christmas, yaaay!” I half-expected him to lead a carol singalong, at which point I might have tried to teach him the lyrics to one of DF’s parodies, “Rudolph the Roasted Reindeer.” (I have made small children cry with that song.)

A truly Christmas miracle: Although the gate agent warned of a full flight, I got a place on the flight. Not only was it on the aisle, the middle seat was empty so I slid my backpack under it and stretched my legs out under my own. (Lest people accuse me of being selfish, let me say that the window passenger was wearing a sleep mask and didn’t stir when I sat down.)

The flight was quiet except for a baby who cried sporadically. Or maybe the child cried nonstop. I wouldn’t know: I’d taken a dollar-store generic Benadryl and slept for most of the journey.

Now I’m in the Seattle airport, yawning and waiting for the second leg of the journey: an 11 a.m. flight that as of this writing has 16 open seats. “You’ve got a good chance of getting on it,” the gate agent told me. God bless us, every one.

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  1. Lake Livin'

    Ah, the joys of non-rev! Glad you made it part of the way, and hopefully the rest of the way, and glad everyone seems to be in good spirits.

    • Donna Freedman

      It looked as though I wouldn’t get on the 2:55 p.m. flight, either: I was #16 on the list of people waiting for seats and apparently only three were available. Due to a Christmas miracle I got the last seat, way in the back of the plane and in the middle of the aisle.

      Didn’t care. I was on the plane! And I got in at around 6:30 p.m. rather than 11 p.m.

  2. Donna, you better’n me! Just going to an airport during the holidays (forget flying somewhere) would flip my switch. ;o) Enjoy the holidays with Abby and Tim.

  3. Glad you made it. Hope you guys all had a nice Christmas.

  4. I’m happy to hear that you made it and hope you had a great Christmas!!!

  5. Kaycee Fisher

    I am honestly curious as to who told you that flying on Christmas Eve is/was a good idea? I have only ever heard it was the busiest travel day of the year. For all modes of transportation. :/

    • Donna Freedman

      My flight was actually on Dec. 25, at 1 a.m. Thus I was surprised to see so many people at the airport — and to see a ton of people in the Seattle airport at 3 p.m. Christmas Day.

  6. You are one brave lady. I stopped going in airports after TSA began hassling innocent people. These days if I can’t get there by car, I don’t go.

    But even back in my traveling days…heeee! Couldn’t’ve got me into an airport on Christmas!

    No doubt everybody had the same idea you did: Take the red-eye on Christmas Day and avoid the crowds. Ooops!

  7. teinegurl

    lol at resting bitch face! haha that was a good one!

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