A bit of advice for those who plan to travel this summer.
Flying this summer is rough! A flight attendant shared the following tips to get you through airline travel for the foreseeable future.
Things are not good. If it’s less than seven hours, drive! I’m not kidding! There is nothing enjoyable about flying right now. On ANY airline. If you must fly, keep reading.
Download and use the app of the airline you are flying. You can do everything on it: get your boarding pass, track your bags, see your incoming plane, and change a flight. It sure beats waiting in the long line to talk to an agent. Usually these apps will tell you a flight is cancelled before the crew even knows.
Fly much earlier than you need to—a whole day early if it’s important! I’ve seen many people miss important things like weddings, funerals, cruises, international connections, and graduations. The tears were very real, for very real reasons, and there was nothing I could do. If you have to be somewhere, spend the extra money, go a day early. Have a glass of wine and stay in a hotel and enjoy your night not being stressed while everyone else misses their events.
ALWAYS fly the first flight in the morning so you have all day to be rebooked if the things hit the fan. Yes, that means it might be a 3 a.m. wakeup alarm, but morning flights are not cancelled nearly as often.
This is not unique to this year, but keep in mind that summer is thunderstorm season. A single storm can shut down a whole airport. We can’t fly through them. Storms usually build later in the day. Fly early!
Schedule long layovers. Your one-hour layover is not enough anymore. Thirty minutes? Not a chance. Three hours minimum.
What you see on the news is an understatement. We are short staffed and overworked. Not just pilots and flight attendants, but also ground crews. Without ground crews there is no one to park the planes, drive jetways, get your bags on/off planes, or scan boarding passes. This causes many delays that snowball throughout the day. Sometimes by hours. (Another reason morning flights are best!)
When flight crews get delayed, we time out. We cannot fly longer than 16 hours. It’s illegal. So it doesn’t matter if you have a wedding to get to: when we are done we are done. The way things are now, there are no backup crews, so when this happens your flight cancels. (Now you are starting to see why those morning flights are best!)
Avoid connecting in Newark. It is literal hell! You have a 50-50 chance your flight will cancel or missing your connection. They have been cancelling flights at their starting points to keep the planes out of Newark because there just aren’t enough people to manage the planes, so the gates stay full. Also, the restaurants are expensive, it is not a great place to be stuck!
Be nice. As stated above, we are overworked and tired. We will not help you if you are mean. No one cares that you are going to miss your cruise if you are a total jerk! So even if we can help, we will save our help for someone nice. Tensions are high. Our patience is gone. If you make us mad … you will not be flying on our planes. We will leave you behind without a second thought, and laugh about you later.
Being drunk on an airplane is a federal offense, so don’t overdo it. If you drink too much at the bar waiting for your delayed flight, you risk not being allowed to fly at all. We are too tired and stressed to deal with your drunk behind when we have legitimate issues to deal with.
Get trip insurance if you have a lot of money invested. I hate the whole idea of this, but I also hate the idea of losing money. Example: I was working a flight that waited over an hour for a gate. A family of eight missed their flight to Rome—the only flight of the day. They were going to a cruise which they would now miss. They were all crying, and there was nothing I could do. (Also a reason to fly a day early)!
Flights are FULL. If you buy the cheap seats you will not be able to sit with your family. It says so when you purchase your ticket! Flight Attendants aren’t there to rearrange the whole plane just so you can sit with your family because you tried to save $100 on a third-party website.
Speaking of third-party websites and saving money… Like I said, flights are FULL. If a flight is oversold and no one volunteers to give up their seats, who do you think will be bumped? You guessed it, the family that saved a few $$ by using sites like Expedia, Kayak, Hotwire, etc.
Pack smart. Don’t be “that guy” who will hold up boarding because you have your suitcase extenders open till they are busting and you can’t figure out how to make it fit in the overhead. (Passengers are stressed too: they can be aggressive when boarding a delayed flight).
Take showers, brush your teeth, leave the perfume off, don’t eat stinky food (Caesar salad and tuna fish? Yes, I’m talking to you and about you!) and bring headphones. Trust me! These things sound basic, but add to the stress on crowded planes. If you are stuck on the tarmac for three hours after a four-hour flight, you will thank me for this.
Bring a sweater if you tend to be cold. So tired of half-naked girls asking me to turn the heat up. NO. Wear clothes! Side note: If you dress like this and ask for heat, there’s a chance I will turn the AC up.
That’s not water on the bathroom floor. For the love of God wear shoes to the bathroom!
Don’t tell Flight Attendants they look tired. We are and we know that! You may cause us to ugly cry right there in galley.
Lastly, a personal suggestion: If you are sick or don’t want to get sick, wear a mask!