Essential airport hacks for the holidays

If you're travelling during the winter breaks, you'll be stepping into the hustle and bustle of Canadian airports during one of their busiest times of year. But that doesn't mean you need to stress about your vacation. Here, Teresa Smith, customer service and sales agent for Air Canada at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, shares these hacks for a smooth travel experience.

Travel documents. Double check that the name on your passport, airline ticket and rewards card matches up, especially when booking online and using an autofill feature. Each country has different visa and passport expiry date requirements, so confirm these details with your destination's embassy.

Flying with kids. Parents travelling with children must have appropriate documents, including a birth certificate showing the name of both parents, legal custody documents or a parental consent letter if the child is travelling alone or with only one parent. Remember that parents and guardians must never sign a child's Canadian passport as that will invalidate it.

U.S. travel. If you're travelling to, from, via or over the United States, the TSA recommends arriving at the airport two hours before departure if your flight is in the early morning or evening, when wait times for screening can be up to one hour. The United States also requires that travellers provide additional secure flight information at least 72 hours before their flight or at the time of booking.

Pack right. Smith recommends taking a few extra minutes to verify that you follow all checked baggage and carry-on rules. You can pack up to one litre of liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of 100 mL or less in your carry-on. Consider that sometimes surprising things count towards this limit — for example, peanut butter is a gel, and coconut oil even when hardened is a liquid. Keep medication in your carry-on in the unlikely event of lost bags. No batteries are allowed in checked baggage, including laptop batteries.

Go online. Save time by checking-in, selecting or changing your seat, selecting the number of checked baggage items and paying any baggage fees 24 hours before your scheduled departure time. Have your baggage tags ready before reaching the airport counter. It's also a smart idea to provide your contact information — especially email, which we can usually access anywhere in the world —at check-in to ensure you can easily be reached in case of travel disruptions, like a big snowstorm. Finally, Smith reminds travellers to enjoy and relax — you're on vacation, and gate agents are there to help.