Contributed by Kerri Rinehart, GCS Secretary AND Super-Savvy Flight Attendant
Hey all! Happy, happy holidays! This year seems to have blown by...and with the travel restrictions lightening up I am sure many of you have booked some plane rides to visit family, friends, or just to get away. Whatever the reason is, I anticipate this season of travel to be a little...difficult. With staffing shortages everywhere, there have been ... dare I say- hiccups?… among the travel industry.
Part of it is due to the fact we were NOT expecting to bounce back so quickly from COVID. Many airline employees are just now coming back to work, as some thought they would be on a leave for the next 2 years. Another potential challenge I see happening this season is the high emotional state many passengers will be in. It can be stressful enough as it is traveling *cough cough with kids* but adding the mandate with all the cancellations and delays - we understand the short fuse.
So... I'm not here to frighten y’all or anything like that! I just wanted to share some insider tips and tricks to prepare you for your journey! I hope these tips help make your trip as fun and smooth as possible.
Tip # 1. Arrive early please.
This seems like it would be a no brainer... but sadly people like to cut it close. Remember- it is not just the airlines that have been dealing with short staff... but TSA, gate agents, bag personnel, airport employees, etc. We are all interconnected when it comes to getting you from point A to B. So please, give yourself an extra hour at the airport. Worst case... you’re sitting in the airport waiting for a bit to board. But think of the alternative?
*Bonus trick- if you arrive early and there is an EARLIER flight to your destination and say your original flight was canceled - you can be rebooked right there to catch that earlier one. I have had many passengers on my flights who said they got on this one because they came to the airport early and their original flight was just canceled.
Tip # 2. If you can swing it- book the early flight!
I know I know... I’m telling you to get to the freakin' airport way early but ALSO pick the earliest flight of the day?! What the shenanigans? But hear me out...
MOST cancellations/delays happen later in the day. The first flight is a major priority to get out on time - basically it is all hands on deck to make sure that puppy flies. Because if it doesn’t... it sets a chain reaction that can affect travel... literally everywhere. Like I said we are all interconnected.
Plus weather in DFW normally doesn’t start acting all cray until the afternoon.
Tip #3 Pee BEFORE you get on the plane.
It is absolutely MIND BOGGLING to flight attendants how many people come on board just to run to the bathroom. It honestly makes me question humanity. I get it, if you were connecting and running late... but most of the time people feel GLUED to the gate and won’t even leave to use the restroom.
One, the restrooms in the plane are filthy...they get a little touch up between flights (that’s it). Two, when you run to the back to use the restroom during boarding, most likely, you will get stuck back there. And TBH that annoys the heck outta us FA’s. We have limited space as it is AND we are most likely setting things up for the flight. So moral of the story:
PEE BEFORE YOU BOARD
Tip # 4 For the love of God- Don’t ring your call light unless you are actually dying (or there is a true emergency).
Yes I said it. Don’t do it unless you're choking or someone next to you is seizing. And come to think of it - don’t bother with the call light - just scream. I kid a bit about this but really… we are not your servants. Please don’t ding us 15 times to get another drink, snack, have trash, etc. I promise, if you are patient, we will be back through the aisle and you can get our attention then before you know it.
Tip #5 I can’t believe I even have to say this… BUT KEEP YA SHOES ON.
I don't care if you are going to Hong Kong (which is like 17+ hours in a plane from DFW) KEEP THE SHOES ON YOUR FEET! Remember when I said that the bathroom on the planes get a *touch up between flights* well, that’s actually for the entire aircraft. Putting any part of your bare body on the floor of the plane is asking to get... like scabies. Don’t even just trust socks. There are liquids that wind up on the floor... and it's not just water.
Tip #6 Leave the hoochie mamma outfit in the bag- Dress in layers or bring a blanket.
The air temp on planes is a sneaky one… some can be quite warm... while MOST of the time we want to freeze your butts off. There really isn’t an in-between. And since COVID, we have removed pillows and blankets (actually, we haven’t had that in awhile, unless you’re in first class going somewhere pretty far) so, don’t make yourself miserable and ask if we have a blanket - we will laugh and walk away (jk jk... we just don’t have them). Just pack a light jacket or a small blanket, trust me. ;)
Tip #7 Bring your own water (or if you want to be real savvy- bring an empty water bottle).
I can only speak for my airline... but I’ve flown a lot and this seems to be the standard for most... we pour our water from big ole plastic water bottles into small cups. If you are someone who gets dehydrated easily, bring your own water on board. (You get dehydrated way faster on planes too.. so drink up)
PRO TRICK: Bring a large EMPTY water bottle through security and then fill it up at a water fountain once you are through
**Bonus insider tip: Don’t ask for water during boarding to “take your medicine” - if you truly need to take some meds- wait till we are in the air during service. It’s just a small (okay large) pet peeve for us FA’s - boarding is considered the most stressful part of the flight. Not only are we on a time crunch to get this puppy out on time, we don’t even get PAID during boarding (annoying)! And this is when people are trying to find space for their bags, their seats, yada yada- all the while we are literally on top of each other. So help us out and bring your own water!
Tip #8 Bring something substantial to eat on the flight.
Im’ma be real with you all.. unless you are in first class (and this isn’t even a for sure thing) you will not get food. COVID brought on a lot of changes and one was removing food service. We actually just returned to having a second beverage service this past week for long haul flights.
Plus... the food is like.. yikes. You think Mickey D’s is processed? You haven’t seen anything yet.
Tip #9 Prep for your OWN entertainment.
Bring a book, magazine, iPod, (wow who has an iPod still??!) & have shows and movies downloaded to your device. Yes - we are equipped with WIFI and you do get free access to entertainment and such.. HOWEVER- guys… were like 35,000 feet in the air okay... It's SPOTTY... and it doesn’t always work. Don’t wait to work on a big project that requires wifi until you have your 4 hour flight to Seattle. You could be up the creek without a paddle if that wifi is out. No hotspot will save ya then. Plus you have to pay for like actual wifi (if you want to freely browse).
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Tip #10 : Be nice... please... and just wear your mask.
I know we all had a shit storm of a 2020 and we're still picking up the pieces. The airline industry was hit HARD. We ALL (gate agents, pilots, FA, ground crew, etc) have been through the wringer... from getting furloughed, to being recalled, to literally being punched in the face... all while trying to get you safely from point A to point B.
I like to say we are informers- NOT enforcers... however, a lot of FAs take that power and shift to enforces which gets us in dicey situations. The masks... we get it, they’re annoying (trust us... we have to wear them ALL THE TIME ... like 12+ hours a day while working) but it is a FEDERAL MANDATE - and you agreed to it when you booked your ticket. Don’t fight us on it. You will lose. Doesn’t matter your beliefs... it is what it is right now. So keep the peace and be nice. Wear ya masks.
*Bonus tip- smile, say please and thank you. For some of you who want to go the extra mile... bring a little something fun for the crew (candy is a hit for us)
Our days can be long and draining, and we deal with a ton of personalities on the daily and to be honest... some of them can be quite yucky. Plus - many of us don’t get to spend time with our families over the holidays. It takes a toll on us. So when we get people who are genuinely kind and patient... it makes a WORLD of difference. And we will remember you and treat you like a VIP. (Insider trick)
That's all I got folks! Stay safe and enjoy the travel! I hope to see you on one of my flights one day!