- Want the best travel tips and packing hacks? There’s no one better to ask than flight attendants.
- Flight attendants have a great deal of experience making the travel process more efficient and enjoyable.
- From how to secure upgrades and free goodies to hacks for packing lighter, flight attendants shared their best travel tips and packing hacks.
Travelling can come as second nature to flight attendants, who often spend more than 80 hours in the air a month.
So, who better to turn to for travel tips and tricks than the people with extensive knowledge on the matter?
We asked flight attendants to share their best travel hacks and packing tips with us, and we scoured the internet for more.
Here are 17 secrets that could help make your travel experiences easier and more enjoyable:
Get more attentive service from your flight attendants
“While most passengers tend to choose seats that are at the front of the aircraft so that they can disembark first and have a better chance of securing their preferred meal option, flight attendants know that if you’re sitting towards the back, you’ll receive the most attentive service,” a flight attendant with 2.5 years’ experience wrote for Oyster.
“The reason is simple: We like to avoid responding to call bells from the front of the plane because answering one means potentially flaunting whatever item the passenger has requested to everyone else along the way,” she wrote. “This can cause a problem since planes often don’t have enough extra vodka, pillows, earplugs, and toothbrushes, or the time on shorter flights to deviate from the service schedule.”
“For passengers sitting near the back of the plane, however, it’s much easier to slip in that second mini bottle of wine,” she added.
Iron your clothes faster
“Use your flat iron to touch up your clothes when you’re in a rush and there’s no time for the ironing board,” a flight attendant with 30 years’ experience told Business Insider.
Always sleep in clean sheets
“Don’t sleep on hotel sheets that don’t have creases from being folded; someone slept on them already,” a flight attendant with 19 years’ experience told Business Insider.
Keep the hotel room dark
“Use the clips on the pants hangers in the hotel room to clip your curtains together so there is no light coming through,” a flight attendant with 15 years’ experience told Business Insider.
Avoid doing damage to your hearing
“Avoid flying if you have a severe cold,”a fight attendant with four years’ experience wrote on Quora. “It can damage your eardrums, and you may lose your hearing. It happened to me once – I couldn’t hear properly for a week, and it hurt like hell.”
Avoid being seated near a baby
“While there’s no escaping (or blaming) the shrill of an upset child, you can lower your odds of sitting directly next to one by choosing a seat that’s located far from the partitions on board,” a flight attendant with 2.5 years’ experience wrote for Oyster.
“These partitions, which go by the technical name ‘bulkheads,’ are the only places on an aircraft where a parent can safely secure a baby’s bassinet – and are, therefore, where most children under one year old will be situated,” she wrote.
Fight jet lag
“What helps me sleep is having a bedtime ritual,” a flight attendant wrote on Quora.
“Stop using electronics one hour before bedtime, have a cup of tea, and read a bit,” he wrote. “Usually that does the trick, but if I can’t sleep after an hour I just get up, do something else, and then try again.”
Don’t get stuck with a heavy bag you have to check
“Less is more,” a flight attendant with three years’ experience told Business Insider.
“The best way to travel is to pack exactly what you need and nothing more, besides maybe a couple of extra underwear,” he said. “But other than that, I would pack only what I need for that specific trip.”
“Before your trip, call your hotel and check to see if they have a washer/dryer available,” a flight attendant with one year of experience told Business Insider. “If so, bring a couple detergent packs and dryer sheets in a Ziploc bag, and it eliminates two to four days’ worth of clothes, depending on your stay.”
Save space in your suitcase
“My favourite travel hack is definitely the clothes-roll technique,” a flight attendant with one year of experience told Business Insider. “I am often gone from home for several days, even up to three weeks, and I save space by rolling my clothes instead of folding them.”
Get through customs in a jiffy
“Pay for Global Entry – it’s totally worth it,” an anonymous flight attendant told Business Insider.
Never miss out on free breakfast
“If you know you’re not going to be able to attend whatever complimentary meal they’re offering because you’re leaving before it starts or you know you’re not going to be up until after it’s over, check with the hotel to see if there’s some kind of snack or sack lunch they can provide before or ahead of time,” a flight attendant with one year of experience told Business Insider.
“Usually it’s just a piece of fruit, a bottle of water, and a thing of string cheese, but that’s saved my growling stomach on several occasions,” they said.
Get a cheaper upgrade
Some airlines offer reduced-price upgrades the day of the flight,Celessa Dietzel, a flight attendant with three years’ experience, told Business Insider. There are even first-class seats available for upgrading sometimes, she said.
“Be in the boarding area good and early during boarding, because this is when you’ll hear the announcements for last-minute upgrade purchases you might be able to get,” Dietzel said. “It’s not for every airline, but it does happen.”
Don’t miss out on the first-class upgrade if you qualify for it
“I think it’s great we don’t have to travel in suits and high heels anymore. You can be comfortable,” Dietzel told Business Insider. “But you can also be classy and comfortable.”
“Check your air carrier’s rules – there are still dress codes sometimes in first class and, who knows, maybe, miracle of the day, you’ll get that cheap upgrade to first class. Be comfortable, but if you can avoid wearing your pajamas, that’s great,” she said.
Get free stuff… sometimes
United Airlines flight attendant Robert Bingochea previously told Business Insider that, if something goes wrong on your flight, flight attendants are empowered with resolution options, from offering a free drink or meal to upgrading fliers or giving them more points. “We can’t fix everything, but at least we can try to give it a chance and try to make things acceptable,” he said.
But there’s a catch.
“Complaining gets some people free stuff,” a flight attendant with 30 years’ experience told Business Insider. “But with the airline computer systems today, we can track all the free stuff given. We know who takes advantage.”
Avoid sleeping on tray tables
Think twice before napping on a tray table on your next red eye, flight attendants warn.
Flight attendant and YouTuber Treasure Elise says she’s seen several passengers change baby diapers on tray tables, sometimes even leaving them rolled up under seats. What’s worse, tray tables are cleaned less often than other parts of the plane: cleaners do not sanitize the tables after each flight, and instead wipe them down at the end of each day.
“I wouldn’t want to eat my sandwich on the tray table where a baby was changed,” Elise says.
Don’t order a coffee
Some flight attendants skip the coffee and tea on flights because of the bacteria found in aeroplane tap water.
In 2015, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a report that identified 37 species of bacteria in portable on-board water. While the bacteria did not fall into the dangerous infectious microorganism categories, some bacteria had the potential to cause illness to people with weak immune systems.
“Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane,” a flight attendant told Business Insider in 2017. “They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea.”
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