(Graphic: Ryan McCullah)
“Betty“ is a real-life flight attendant who has had enough.
You think you’ve got it bad when your inflight entertainment conks out, the Pixie-Stix addicted kid behind you mistakes the back of your chair for a vertical trampoline, and the plane runs out of “Good Morning Sunshine” cheese boxes? That’s child’s play. Welcome to Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant, a Yahoo! Travel series where “Betty” describes the harrowing, real-life situations she and her comrades in the sky face every day, 35,000 feet away from a foot massage and premium whiskey.
This week Betty shares 15 tips to keep ourselves, our fellow passengers and, most importantly, our flight attendants as happy as possible when we fly this summer.
1. Think about your outfit for your airplane trip. Not how you look but how you will feel! People get on airplanes dressed in ripped shorts, flip-flops, and a tank top and then complain that they are freezing?!? Whenever I fly, I always have a scarf or jacket I can put on if I’m cold or use as a pillow.
Guess who’s going to be shivering during her flight (Photo: Thinkstock)
2. If you’re traveling with a pet you might want to ask your vet about a light medication for your animal. We call it “doggy dope.” It will lessen the stress on your furry friend and you both will arrive at your destination a little less harried!
(Photo: Getty Images)
3. I know it may sound basic but wear socks or shoes when entering the airplane bathroom. You’d be shocked at the number of passengers who go into the bathroom in bare feet. Men don’t have the best aim even when they’re on the ground; you can be sure that in a small space and with rough air, the bathroom floor is not exactly germ-free!
It looks clean but you don’t know where this floor has been (Photo: Getty Images)
4. Airline tickets used to be booked by professionals. Today consumers do it themselves online, with price being the only factor they consider. Big mistake! When booking online, you need to consider another important factor: the time you have between connecting flights. If you only have 45 minutes or less to connect to another flight, you’re basically flirting with a very stressful running-through-the-airport situation.
Give yourself plenty of time to make connections (Photo: Getty Images)
5. My favorite packing trick is to bring clothes that are old or you’re not crazy about and then just leave them behind during your trip. Your closet gets cleaned out and you have more room in your suitcase for purchases. And as an added bonus, if you’re traveling to a developing country, you can give those items away! Now you’re thinking: “Lovely… you’re giving dirty old clothes away?!” That doesn’t have to be the case. Lots of times you buy something and it just doesn’t fit perfectly or it’s not your color. So it sits unworn in your closet. Why not just pack it, wear it, and give it away to someone who can use it? I once gave this green velvet shirt from the Gap to a woman in Morocco. She was so happy you’d have thought I’d given her gold!
Traveling’s a great opportunity to clean out your closet (Photo: Thinkstock)
6. Flight attendants are cheap dates. Say a passenger brings chocolate for the flight crew. That costs the passenger, what, maybe just a couple of bucks? And yet we’re thanking that passenger as profusely as that Moroccan woman I gave my shirt to. Next thing you know, that passenger gets a free headset or a free drink. It’s actually funny because it can be something so small and yet we bend over backwards with “thank yous.” It’s just nice to be thought of!
Kindness goes a long way with flight attendants (Photo: Thinkstock)
7. On the same thoughtfulness note, the best new trend I’ve seen is the preemptive baby apologies. I was on a flight a few months when I saw a passenger with a baby putting little bags of candy on the seats around her. The bags had a note attached that read: “Hi, my name is Jordan and I’m five months old. Sometime during the flight I may get hungry or fed up with sitting on my mom’s lap. So I may cry a bit. Just know that my parents are going to do everything they can to keep me happy and quiet so I don’t bother you!”
Your baby may need your help with his preemptive apology (Photo: Thinkstock)
8. Once most of the people are boarded, start looking around the plane to see which seats are empty. Once everyone is on board you’re allowed to move around your cabin. But you have to be fast because someone else is probably eyeing that aisle seat! And remember you can always move toward the back of the plane. I’m always amazed how people will stay jammed together in the front of the airplane while the back is empty. They just never looked?
9. Ask for or book the exit row seats because you will most likely have more room. But what most people don’t know is that it is always colder by the doors and window exits (much colder), so dress appropriately (See #1)!
Exit row seats are great but bring a sweater! (Photo: Karl Baron/Flickr)
10. If you have any special dietary needs, you should plan ahead. People get used to their dietary routines at home and are shocked when we don’t have a vegan, gluten-free option on our Food for Sale menu.
"Umm… do you have anything macrobiotic?” (Photo: Getty Images)
11. For heaven’s sake, put any crucial item in your CARRY-ON bag. You would not believe the important items people put in their checked baggage: diapers, medication, inhalers. These are things you NEED so you NEED to have them on the airplane with you!
This won’t do you much good in your checked baggage (Photo: Thinkstock)
12. Book the first flight of the day. Yes, you have to wake up really early. But the morning flights have a huge advantage because the airplane is already there. You don’t have to worry about delays or weather in some other city where your plane is flying in from.
Remember: the early bird catches the flight (Photo: Getty Images)
13. It’s also a good idea to have a printed copy of your driver’s license and passport inside your suitcase in case your carry-on is lost or stolen. And for the ultra-scary event like an armed robbery or fire where your suitcase and carry-on is lost, I scan my ID, passport, and travelers checks and e-mail copies to myself. This way, you can go to any computer and print a copy of your documents.
14. As you probably know, everyone must take off their shoes in the airport security line. You may want to think of how many people are traipsing though the metal detector barefoot — and what you may catch in the process. I suggest wearing socks!
15. And lastly: for goodness’ sake, don’t wear a lot of jewelry, belts, chains, or boots you can’t quickly take off. The people behind you in security will give you the stink eye!
Hold up the security line and your fellow passengers will hate you (Photo: Thinkstock)