When we picture New Year’s Eve celebrations in our minds, we think of fireworks and huge parties. Here in the US, we tend to think immediately of the sparkling globe dropping to the rooftop of 1 Times Square at exactly midnight — an American tradition since 1908!
But what about traveling during the New Year? What is it like to be in the air on this holiday?
There are definitely both pros and cons, but some are trying to make “New Year’s In The Air” a new popular way to celebrate … many by promising a second celebration in a different time zone.
New Year’s Eve – What To Expect At The Airport
This might actually be one of the best parts to flying during this holiday, especially if you’re not traveling for the novelty. For the most part, airports on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are far emptier than during other days this time of year. This is mostly because people are already at their chosen destinations.
USA Today surveyed some of the busiest airports in the United States, and found a common theme among all of them:
“[Los Angeles International Airport] says about 239,000 fliers are expected to pass through the airport on both Dec. 21 and Dec.23. The slowest days there will be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, LAX says.
At Florida’s Orlando International, however, officials say five of the six busiest days during the window will fall between Christmas and New Year’s. Orlando officials believe that airport’s two busiest days during the holiday period will be Dec. 28, followed by Dec. 27.” – USA Today
So maybe flying on New Year’s Eve is simply the smart choice to make for someone who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of an otherwise busy time of year.
But what if you are interested in actually celebrating the holiday in a new way? Well, it looks like airlines are starting to oblige.
Getting Two New Year’s Eves in 24 Hours
The idea of celebrating New Year’s in one location, then flying “backward” to celebrate it again isn’t new. What is new is the fact that some companies are starting to offer packages to promote exactly this.
Business Insider highlights private jets that will take a party of 8 from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California in order to celebrate the New Year in both locations. “the time in LA is 19 hours behind Sydney, so if you can make the journey between the two cities in less time than that, you can fly “back in time” and arrive several hours before you left.” These kinds of packages bring hefty price tags, however, so unless you are ready to save up quite a bit, you may want to skip on down to the next option:
Simpleflying.com offers a look at possible other routes to plan for a double-party on New Year’s Eve, as well as a handy graphic to show why this is possible when flying across the international date line. Essentially, any flight taking off from the asian side of the pacific and landing in the western hemisphere will provide you with two different New Year’s celebrations.
Examples on simpleflying.com include:
Hong Kong -> Los Angeles, CA
Tokyo, Japan -> Los Angeles, CA
Guam -> Honolulu, HI
Image of the International Date Line from TimeAndDate.com
Spending Midnight In The Air
This is another trend that is slowly catching on – airlines offering New Year’s Eve packages for spending the magic moments of the new year at 30,000 feet.
Aerotime.aero puts together lists of flights which will be in the air at midnight (for both originating time zone and destination) so that you can party with the others on your flight. They also pay close attention to what cities you will be flying over. This way, you can observe festivities on the ground.
For a first-hand account, we turn to the author’s father, who is a very frequent flyer. “I got stuck one year having to take a flight from Grand Rapids, MI to San Diego, CA on New Year’s Eve,” he said. “I thought I’d probably just sleep through the whole thing like I usually do, but we got to see the fireworks all across the first part of the country from the air. We saw the ones in Chicago, then I want to say St Louis, but don’t quote me. Plus a bunch of smaller cities’ firework shows in between. Either way, it was pretty spectacular, and now I’m glad I was able to see it.”
When asked if he would do it again, he replied “probably not, unless I could be up there with my family. Then it might be pretty fun.”
Though it should be noted as one blogger points out regarding her own New Year’s Eve flight experience, champagne is not allowed on some airlines due to its pressurization. If you are going to be opening a bottle when flying those airlines, it would need to be a flat wine instead. Check with your airline of choice before booking if this would be a deal-breaker for you.
In an interview with Today.com, Dr Robert Quigly of MedAire.com also warns that carbonation can expand up to 30% at the higher altitudes. So that bubbly would make you feel a lot more bloated than it would on the ground anyway. It might be better to skip it until you land at your destination.
Ringing in A New Decade
No matter how you are going to be celebrating the New Year (and the New Decade!), we here at Cornerstone Information Services hope that it is full of happiness, joy, and great memories. Above all, we wish you both prosperity and safety in your celebration and for the whole of 2020.
And if you are traveling, you may want to check out our previous post on “Holiday Travel Hacks” from many of our veteran travelers here at Cornerstone!
Happy New Year, and Safe Journeys!