Traveling around the holidays is generally pure hell. The stress of seeing family, the long lines, and the delays all come together to create the perfect storm of travel nightmares. This year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that about 33 percent of all Americans will travel for the December holidays, which is more than four percent more than last year. Luckily, for those opting to fly to their destinations, there are a few tricks of the trade that can make your in-flight experience slightly less terrible this winter. I recently talked with veteran flight attendant and Instagram personality Jackeyflygirl to get a few tips on flying like a pro.
Always bring snacks
According to Jackey, one mistake she constantly sees passengers make is not bringing enough snacks. “You never know when you’ll be stuck, and pilots are always anxious to push off from the gate because once they push off the aircraft is in the takeoff queue,” she said. That’s why it’s so rare for an aircraft to return to the gate — and the food court — without taking off even if the runway is temporarily closed. The crew has a schedule to meet and pulling back in drops the flight to the back of the list.
Skip the wrapped presents
On nearly every flight around Christmas time, Jackey says at least one passenger will try to carry on a wrapped present. However, with the tight quarters and the possibility of turbulence, it’s highly unlikely the wrapping paper will survive the flight intact. And forget about candy canes and bows, there’s almost no way items like these will survive the flight. Instead, Jackey recommends either checking the present and wrapping it once you land, or just ship the present to your destination.
Wear warm clothes
Even if you’re planning on flying to Orlando, stash a hoodie and some warm socks in your carry on. You never know if your flight will be diverted to a colder airport. Also, skip the stilettos and flip-flops, as these can present safety issues when you’re trying to run through an airport concourse, and the last thing you want is to start your holiday off with a broken ankle.
Don’t forget the crew
Working on the holidays is especially hard on the flight crews. “Everyone travels in a bad mood,” said Jackey, so try not to take out your frustration on your flight attendants. Instead, consider bringing them a bag of treats or candy.
“If passengers bring us treats, we’ll upgrade them and hook them up,” she said. “We’re supposed to have a break at some point during the day, but if there’s a delay, then we lose our break and our only opportunity to eat.”