Top 10+2 Air Travel Tips and Tricks (from a Flight Attendant couple)
With my wife and I, having over 21 years of experience being flight attendants (aka FA), you'd think we'd have stories to tell... Weeeeell, we do! We've often been asked if we could write a book of all our stories, from flying. Our usual answer is, "Excyplopaedia Britannica's used to have 33 Volumes, that's nothing!". With that experience comes experience, wait, that doesn't even make any sense! With all those years of operating flights across North American, comes a wealth of experience... much better! We've also been able to develop a few Tips and Tricks, to make your air travel a little easier.
1-For the love of Pete, our galley isn't a Yoga studio!
You see, we're sometimes on the plane for 12-14 hours per day and our galley is our little sanctuary, our haven, our oasis (Dang it, now I have Champagne Supernova in my head). Yes, we signed up for this gig but we never signed up to watch anyone come do yoga or do their stretches in our galleys. We may get 10-12 minutes of quiet time to horf down an $18 sandwich from the airport or our cold pizza we started the night before or whatever we could fit into our lunch bags, from the hotel continental breakfast. How would you like it, if we came to do lunges in your office cubicle? Come 'on, man!
2-Socks to the washroom?
I always have a chuckle when I see people going to the bathroom in socks or even worst, barefoot. I usually just look them up and down and stare at their socks. Eventually, they'll inquire as to why I'm doing that. "Socks to a public washroom? Are you sure that's a good idea?" If they don't immediately turn around and hightail it to retrieve their shoes, I may even add "You know, the water on the bathroom floor, isn't always water, right?" or I'll say "Not everyone has great aim like you do, I'm sure" or if I'm feeling extra-sassy "THANKS FOR CLEANING MY FLOORS!"
3-Give the unexpected gift
Imagine, early in your flight while you wait for the washroom, you make eye contact with a flight attendant, don't make it awkward and stare, say hello! Then ask them when they'll be done work today, again don't make it awkward or creepy. Have a very short conversation cause you might be talking to them in that 10-12 minutes window that we talked about at Tip #1. Ask them if there's anything you can do to make their life easier today. If you've already made a good connection, you might have a flight attendant with some sass, respond by asking you to go do garbage for them, say "Sure! May I have gloves and a garbage bag please?" After the initial shock comes off their face, they'll refuse, obviously, What if they decide to call you out on this joke, give you gloves and a bag? Without hesitating, turn around, go to the front of the plane and pick up garbage while walking to the back of the aircraft. When you get to the back, with a bag full of garbage, you will be known as a SUPERGUEST, a new-age hero amongst men/women, folk songs will be written about you, children will be singing your praises at the end-of-the-year school-play, your bust will be on full display at the company's head office, you will be talked about on every other flight, those flight attendants will ever operate. Do you have any idea, how many perks will come of this selfless act? The possibilities are endless! If you're single, you won't be at the end of this 6 hour flight either.
4-Set an alarm
Most airlines will let you pick your seats for free, 24 hours prior to departure. If you're traveling with your partner (the song "Just the two of us, we can make it if we try" just came into my head... and now, you're singing it too, sorry 'bout that), this becomes very important to be on your computer or phone, with your PNR (Reservation Code), 24:02 hours prior to departure. As soon as the clock hits the 24 hour mark, you need to be logged in, ready to pick your seats. So unless you've been married for 34 years and you actually wantto be separated from your partner for your 4 hour flight, set an alarm.
5-Aisle & Window
If you're traveling as an even number (2-4-6 are considered even numbers) and you want to be seated together, you'll seriously need to follow Tip #4, accompanied with this Aisle & Window Tip. Book your seats towards the last few rows of the plane and if the plane configuration is of 3 seats per side (some planes also have 3 seats in the middle), then book the Aisle and Window seat. Prime real estate is of the utmost importance here. Nobody wants to sit in the middle, which means the aisle and windows seats are the first to go on any aircraft. For some reason, most people want to be near the front of the plane (maybe being closer to the pilots makes them feel more connected to the pilots in spirit, I don't know...). The last few rows are the last ones booked, which is good for you! By getting on the plane as the last few passengers, you may get to your row and find someone sitting in the middle seat of your row. If you don't want to make it awkward by holding your partner's hand in the aisle seat, while you're at the window, ask the person in that middle to move to your aisle or window seat and they'll be super happy and you'll get your loving partner back, which then means, in this case, Tip #5 failed. If you get to your row and no one is in the middle seat, you then have the entire row to yourselves, Tip #5, Win! You see, since no one wants the middle seats, those are the last seats booked and if you remember, people usually want to be near the front, so the middle seats in the back of the plane are the very last ones booked, giving you the greatest chance to success and air travel bliss. (Added Tip, don't book the very last row, sometimes those seats don't recline)
6-Be someone's Gilligan
Crop Dusting, Passenger Shaming, Finding our Gilligan, the list of games we could be playing, just to keep us entertained, goes on and on for days. Gilligan was the main character of Gilligan's Island, a TV show in the '60s where a group of tourist, the boat Captain and his 1st Mate (Gilligan) were stranded on an island after a huge storm destroyed their boat. Finding your Gilligan is basically finding someone (a passenger in this case), that you wouldn't mind being stuck on an island with. In other words, make yourself a little more attractive. Dress nice, like they did back in the '60s. OK, maybe not that nice, not everyone owns or wants to wear a three piece suit or a cocktail dress on a plane but at least, stay away from flannel pyjamas and slippers. Another quick Tip, stop wearing sweatpants, nobody rocks that look. Lululemon pants are great on women but sweatpants are just sloppy. You've already graduated from your Senior Year from of College. Sloppy is not The New Black, Brittany! The biggest advantage of dressing up, besides following these incredible Top 10 Air Travel Tips & Tricks, is that you have a much better chance of being upgraded. No matter how nice you may be, you'll never be upgraded to Business or First Class, while wearing a t-shirt that reads "Bite Me!" You want to stand out to flight attendants but only in a good way! Be nice, dress nice, use some freaking manners and you may find yourself receiving a few freebies from the crew.
7-Be kind to your Aircrew
Aircrew, flight attendant, stewardess, trolly-dolly, skyhag, air waitress, tart-with-a-cart or server of the sky... we've heard them all. You know what we rarely hear, compliments! Please understand that for you to go home for Thanksgiving, go to your BFF's wedding or have some quality family time for Christmas, we have to NOT BE with our family and friends. Walking on the plane and thanking your crew for showing up with a smile and being away from their families, so you can be with yours, shows a lot of respect. Granted, not all flight attendants show up with a smile but deep down and I mean REALLY deep down, down into the depths of hell sometimes, we love our jobs and it's nice to receive a free compliment. (Added Tip, being nice will get your more freebies on the plane than being a jerk, just saying...)
This should be part of Ripley's Believe It Or Not museums! When your flight attendant comes by and asks you if you'd like something to drink, screaming "Coke" doesn't qualify as good manners. We don't go through 4-8 weeks of incredibly intense and rigorous training to learn how to pour Coke. We train tirelessly to save lives, not to be your punching bag. Use some manners Bill, it won't kill ya!
9-Can you hear me now?
Adding to Tip #8, when your flight attendant comes by and asks,
FA- May I offer you a drink?
FA- May I offer you a drink?
Passenger- What? (that's usually when they realize they can't hear you with their earphones in)
FA- May I offer you a drink?
FA- Would you like a sweet or salty snack?
FA- Would you like a sweet or salty snack?
Passenger- What? (that's when they realize that they still can't hear you with their earphones back in)
FA- Would you like a sweet of salty snack?
FA- It's an "Or" question sir... Sweet or salty?
Personally, I've done an extensive research with hundreds of man-hours, to discover that if you take your earphones off when someone is talking to you, your hearing improves by 1000%, FACT!
Air travel is or can be, a very stressful situation. We do it regularly, so IROPs (Irregular Operations (Delays, Snowstorms, Lightning alerts on the ground, any situation that is not normal daily operations)) happen and we're comfortable with it. I understand you have an important meeting you need to get to or that you need to get home to feed your cat or that you just want to get home for Christmas cause this is the year, you'll finally beat your brother at Scrabble cause you learnt 18 new words of over 7 letters each, this semester. Certain things are completely out of your flight attendant's hands and giving us grief over it, doesn't help. No, we are not responsible for the ground handler throwing your bag onto the conveyor belt (they're called chuckers for a reason, Ed!). No, we cannot fly any faster so you can make your connecting flight, there are rules in place. No, we cannot control the weather yet but I'm working on an App for that. Sir, we ran out of sandwiches, not fuel! You have to understand why airlines exist, they're there to get you from Point A to Point B, safely! After that, anything and everything else is a bonus!
I've had a passenger passively-aggressively say that this was their worst flight ever, while exiting the plane. First, it's too late to complain, I can't do anything about it now. Second and I usually say it loud enough "I'm sure the people of SwissAir 111 would disagree", have some perspective folks! Yes, things happen, planes get in late, planes divert, air travel can mess up your plans but at the end of the day, if you're still alive and safe, we did our job and that's what matters. 2 years later, you'll talk about the event with laughter, so relax and enjoy the adventure, Susan!
I can also give you the same lame Tips & Tricks that you've heard before. Get to the airport early, leave a good buffer between connecting flights, especially in the winter months and have a change of clothes, a water canister, toothpaste, medication and underwear in your carry-on bag, in case your checked luggage gets lost. These previously seen Tips & Tricks are there for a reason, they work!!
On a less humorous note, these final 2 Tips & Tricks are equally important, though a little dark in topic. We are Safety Professionals after all. We're here to save your ass, not kiss it!
10+1-Keep your shoes, not flip-flops, ON!
"I just ran from gate 7 to gate 68 and you want me to keep my shoes on for another 15 minutes after take-off and before landing? Are you crazy?" You do whatever you want, I'm just giving some Tips here but think about it, which part of air travel is the most dangerous and crucial? Take-off and Landing. If you were to evacuate in an emergency, there may debris, glass, metals, fire and possibly water all around you. Flip-flops will be off your feet and lost forever. Shoes will hopefully still be on your feet and give you a much better chance of walking out of there without worsening an already, very bad situation!
10+2-The seatbelt sign is OOOOONNNN!
Have you ever heard your flight attendants recommend that you to keep your seatbelt fastened at all times, while seated? Have you ever heard of people getting injured due to unexpected turbulence? Do you know why they call it unexpected turbulence? Cause it's UNEXPECTED!!!
If, in the middle of doing service, we hear over the PA, the Captain suddenly say something like "Flight Attendants, be seated", that's basically his polite way of saying, "FAs, sit down, shits about to get real!" We'll scramble to lock our cart in place, find an empty seat and buckle our seatbelt within 5 seconds, hoping our cart doesn't have lift-off and making everyone's day, a lot less fun! If there are no empty seats, crouch and hold on like your life depends on it... cause it actually does.
That's it for today friends. Please know that no passengers or animals were harmed during the testing of these Tips & Tricks. These humorous Tips & Tricks are humbly brought to you by the makers of Brantley and Emmerson.
For more light-hearted Lifestyle and Travel Tips, stay tuned to The Oily Travelers!
We're inspired to keep the wheel spinning!