Flying for a Living
So I was at the airport the other day, I know, what a shock… A flight attendant in an airport… but as a flight attendant for a charter company, I traditionally have the luxury of starting my trips from private hangers and not public airports. However, there are occasions where I have to travel to meet my plane that’s located in a different state, or rarely even, a different country. And some of the times when I end my rotation not near my home, guess what I get to do? Commercial home. Needless to say, I have come to realize how wonderful it is to travel by private jet. I know that I sound like such a dick, but bear with me. Flying as much as I do has made me realize the little pessimistic quirks about traveling commercially. I know that flying first class will be as swanky as we mere mortals will get, and I know that the only way I get to be on a private plane is because I work on them, but I have some suggestions/observations that could possibly make your flying experience more enjoyable. Maybe? I guess we’ll find out together.
Get to the Airport Early, Trust Me
As someone who has the option to fly out of Newark, LaGuardia or JFK, since I hail from the widely beloved garden state, I always fly out of Newark. LaGuardia and JFK are both nightmares to get to no matter the time of day or year, but realistically, there will normally always be some kind of slow down when getting closer to any airport in general. And although Newark is the preferred option for me, there has always been some kind of traffic along the way because ya know, accidents, someone getting pulled over and (the number one reason for traffic) merging. Nobody wants to let people on. People are being aggressive and not abiding by the zipper merge, and if you don’t know what that is, I’m sorry to say but you’re probably part of the problem. I can say that because I learned how to drive in Jersey (I am being completely sarcastic). And then you have those revolutionaries who think they can get away with flying down the middle lane and then all of a sudden try to cut into the twenty-car-deep exiting lane at the last minute. Lol Jersey drivers keeping the stereotype alive… So for me, I have to include the inevitable human factor when driving to Newark, as should you wherever your home airport is located. Take into account the time of day because rush hour can be such a bitch. That’s why Waze is amazing to calculate the best time for you to leave. If you didn’t know this, you can go into the app, type in the location and then scroll over the time that you would like to arrive at the airport (or any location) and then see when the best time would be for you to leave. There is even an option to set an alarm to remind you. Boom. Technology. If you already knew that, sorry for wasting your time. So you truly have no excuse arriving thirty minutes before boarding and you still have to go through security. No excuse.
Don’t Worry, Fly Happy
My number one suggestion of all time whenever you are traveling is – BE NICE. Be nice to TSA. Be nice to the people at the Jamba Juice. Just be nice. There is absolutely, one hundred percent no reason for you to ever be nasty towards anyone at the airport. If you miss your flight, do not be mean to the person at customer service. That is your own damn fault for not being there on time. This is the one thing that irks me to my core. Their job is to provide individuals with customer service, and guess who’s going to have to pay for a brand new plane ticket because of their nasty attitude. You. If you are just nice, explain that you left later than expected and hit more traffic than anticipated, and ask if there are any other flights heading to your destination that day; they will most likely help you. And you may not have to pay for this new ticket considering you missed your previous flight that you already paid for. If you notice (depending on the time of year and day), there are usually multiple flights heading to the same location with the same exact price. If you are nice and respectful, you will most likely be put in that other plane, free of charge.
Simple Tips and Tricks
Have you ever booked a last minute trip where you’ll be flying in approximately four hours? Well I have. At least once or twice every rotation. And as someone who books last minute flights, let’s say I have to cancel it because the plane I was actually going to meet up with in North Carolina is actually flying into New Jersey so I no longer need the flight. Guess who I call, customer service! As a loyal United member (#notsponsored #iwish), if I book a flight and then cancel it the same day, I get a full refund. The cost of my entire ticket purchase, including extra legroom, will be refunded back into my account after 5 to 7 business days. Sometimes you can do this on the website, but mostly I give them a call. Even though the wait time can take a while, it’s mostly easier to just talk to a person instead of wondering if the cancellation went through online.
Second piece of advice when commercially flying, try and wear something you are comfortable in. If I am flying out for work, I typically wear something along the lines that can be classified as business casual. But I don’t put on my belt until after going through security and I always wear slip on shoes. But when I’m done with my rotation, I typically wear something more comfortable. Just don’t be those people that go all out. Like, you are not the Kardashians; although technically, they’d be on a private plane anyway… You are not someone that has paparazzi waiting for you. And even so, don’t wear your nicest stuff. You will have to take off your Gucci belt and those ridiculous heals, which will leave you barefoot going through security. I truly don’t understand the women that decide to wear heals while traveling. I get that you’re probably thinking that you’re going to be sitting for a majority of your experience, but unless they’re your knee-high boots that is saving you space in your carry-on, then it’s not acceptable. Like no. Don’t be that person, homie. Put some slip-ons on your little feetsies and call it a day. Save the Louboutins for another time. This is Newark Liberty Airport, not New York fashion week.
Listed below, in no particular order, are just some things I’ve noticed when traveling commercially and would like to share with you:
1.) Even though I just stated that this was in no particular order of importance, I take that back because this is by far the most precious piece of advice I can give you: Stop mobbing around the area before you head down the corridor to the plane if your group number has not been called. I get it if you’re anxious about not getting overhead space if you’re a later group number, but you are being annoying just standing there blocking the people that are trying to walk through. And also, you are encouraging other people to stand up and wait too, thinking that their group has been called. I know this sounds aggressive, but I fly a lot and see this everywhere I go. Just wait. It’s really not a big deal if you don’t get overhead space because although your bag will now be traveling underneath the plane, it will be traveling for free. And most of the time they will tag it with a priority label and just have it ready for you after you land at your destination. And if you aren’t worried about getting overhead space, then just sit and wait. You will be ok, I promise.
2.) If you are worried about not getting an overhead space and you have to make a tight connection, been there, done that, I have sweat stains to prove it. Get a luggage label that has your name, phone number and e-mail on it. This will be a lifesaver if anything happens to your bag. Let’s say you need to reach out to your airlines customer support, or maybe they reach out to you from the Aspen airport to tell you that your bag is there and asks where you are when in fact you’re still in Denver and have no clue how your bag arrived before you did… Then you know exactly where it is and will never have to worry because your name and contact info is on your luggage.
3.) The other thing about clothing that I believe to be a big no-no when traveling is, do not, I repeat, do not wear tiny shorts, short skirts or white/light colored pants. Reasoning: There are hundreds of thousands of people sitting, spilling, squishing things onto those seats around the clock before you sat your butt in 21F. One plane could have flown five separate legs without anyone ever cleaning it. You don’t want your bare legs touching that nor do you want there to be a stain leftover from another flight on your fresh white pants. Just let that marinade.
4.) Also as someone who is always cold, and if there are others out there like me you are not alone, pack some thick or fuzzy socks in your backpack, purse or whatever bag you stick underneath the seat in front of you. It’s life changing. If you don’t want to bring a sweatshirt or another layer for your top half, just bring some socks.
5.) Another thing that I don’t think people think about is the hot water and coffee on the plane. I’m sorry to break it to you, but don’t ask for hot water for tea or request a cup of coffee. It’s most likely brewed with the water from the plane and the pipes of that plane rarely have been cleaned. If you want caffeine, either bring a Red Bull with you or ask for some Coke because you may get sick from drinking either the hot water or the coffee. Not everyone does, but as a precaution, I’m just giving you a heads up.
6.) Either pack some Airborne or Emergen-C, and most definitely some kind of nasal spray because you can absolutely get sick after traveling on a plane. You are in a pressurized metal tube that circulates the same air and are sitting in seats that thousands of others have sat in and most likely have not been recently cleaned. You will be surrounded by germs and bacteria. You can totally bring hand sanitizer, but your best bet for helping yourself out are Airborne and nasal spray. And do not travel if you are super congested or have a sinus infection, there is a possibility that you could rupture your eardrums or mess up your sinus’s for life. That’s my PSA to you.
7.) HYDRATE. This is extremely important. You lose so much water and moisture when you fly. If you are traveling home after a tropical getaway, bring one of those gigantic water bottles on the plane and be that annoying person that has to keep asking people to get up for you to go to the bathroom. If you ever fly with a sunburn you are already dehydrated from that, don’t make it worse by depriving yourself of water on the flight home or to wherever your destination is, and don’t eat the salty snacks. Salty treats are provided because we lose a decent amount of our taste when we fly, so pretzels and chips are usually handed out as a snack option. But don’t give into the salty goodness; it will dry you out even further.
So there you have it, my rant/opinions/tips that nobody asked for, for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoyed it, or were at least able to sit through its entirety. Have you had similar travel experiences or am I just being too picky?