Flying on Christmas Day

‘Will we see Rudolph out the window?” my daughter Grace asks, excitedly. “It depends on how many G&Ts Mummy has,” I reply, drily.

Yep. We’ll be spending Christmas Day in the sky.

According to Flight Centre, there’s been a steady increase in the number of people travelling on this holy day, with airlines reporting up to 60 per cent capacity in recent years.

While Boxing Day is traditionally the busiest day of the year, you can save more than 50 per cent on your airfare by taking off a day earlier.

Qantas is getting into the spirit, with festive chocolates and fruit mince tarts served by cabin crew wearing reindeer ears.

Once again, the Gold Coast is the top domestic destination.

“Last year, I flew back from the Goldie on Christmas Day,” one friend remembers. “The plane was empty so, with little kids, we got a whole row each, and the crew made it fun!”

Virgin Australia says more than 30,000 people will fly on its planes, with the trip to Uluru nearly sold out.

You’ll really think you’re hallucinating if you transit through Changi Airport in Singapore, where SpongeBob SquarePants has taken up residence in the world’s biggest pineapple house. The most popular international destination for Christmas is the United States, followed closely by Indonesia, according to a survey by HotelClub.

Of course, it’s not all Joy to the World. Julia Simens, an expat living in Bangkok, booked a flight for her family on Christmas Day 2006 from Lagos to Cape Town.

“After a two-hour drive, we arrived at the airport and realised there were no cars around,” she remembers. “There was no one at the check-in area, no one at the main counters, not a soul manning the VIP lounge, either.”

Turns out the airline had decided not to fly that day because it was a holiday.

“We showed them our paid tickets … they assured us the airline would resume flights in a day or two,” she laughs.

When Julia later tried to get a refund, airline officials kept asking, “Why did you buy tickets on a day we didn’t fly”?

Perhaps there’s more certainty on cruise lines. Many offer special deals at this time of year, with a Christmas matinee show on the ice skating rink of Voyager of the Seas, as well as midnight mass.

So spending Christmas Day in transit makes sense financially, but what about emotionally?

This year, the kids will experience their first white Christmas. That is, if I don’t have a heart attack first. Flights between Rome and Paris on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day cost an arm and a leg. We’re looking at a flight for a third of the price on Chrissie arvo.

“How will Santa know where we are, if we’re moving all the time?” our son Taj asks.

“Ah, that’s part of the magic of Christmas,” I reply with a wink.

After all, Christmas isn’t about where you are. It’s who you’re with.

As long as it’s not with angry passengers waiting for a delayed or cancelled flight, that’s good enough for me. Oh, and a glass or two of Christmas spirit, too, please!

Read more: