We’re proud to present the first of an on-going series of articles called Airline Anonymous: Insider’s Tips from Flight Crews. We’ve reached out to FAs, Pilots and even airline Execs under the cover of anonymity to have them share with our community their best tactics for not just surviving but thriving long haul business journeys. After all who better to give advice on global travel then the men and women who earn their living in the air.
First up, we tapped one of our favorite In charge Flight Attendants for her expertise on how to arrive in style. After years in the air she always arrives looking better and more put together than her passengers, so clearly she has some secrets.
Global travel will always take its toll. Flying in a cigar-shaped tube for 15 hours is bound to exhaust you, dry out your skin, wrinkle your clothes and generally put you in a bad mood. That is of course unless do what us, err more seasoned, FAs do and follow a few simple rules. Here are my top 5 tips for arriving in style.
Bring a Sleep Suit
Whenever a FA has time off on a long haul flight we change into sweats before trying to get a little shuteye. Any form of comfy cotton pajamas or sweat pants and a tee shirt will do. Not only will you feel much more relaxed and ready for sleep but you’ll also not wrinkle your clothes. Imagine landing in Sydney and not looking like you’ve been living in your suit or dress for the last 24 hours.
Certain international carriers still offer pajamas to their first class passengers but this is becoming more rare, so when I travel I always pack my own. They’re light and easy to stash in my carry on bag and don’t worry about other passengers or the Flight Crew laughing at you behind your back. When we see a traveler making a quick change in the lavatory we instantly know he or she is a pro and we respect their experience.
Most FAs and veteran travelers never unpack; they keep their suitcase ready to go. That means having two cosmetic bags or shaving kits; one for home and one for the road. Sure we all top up our supplies from time-to-time but we rarely ever unpack. I have found that this is the only way to avoid running out of your favorite hand cream when you’re in the Sahara Desert or needing to find Tylenol after a night of celebrations in Barcelona.
One passenger I often chat with on flights tells me he takes this one step further and always has the hotel do his laundry and fold his shirts the day before he checks out. This way he arrives home with a clean, already packed suitcase that can be ready to go again in a moment’s notice.
Always Pack Sober
Believe it or not I have often had desperate male and female passengers ask me about the shopping in the destination we’re flying to. Not because they are making chit chat but because they have realized they forgot to pack dress shoes or a belt or in one case, a bathing suit. He was a professional surfer. They all packed in a hurry at the last moment, while also doing emails or in some cases, drunk. Yes we see it all.
So my advice is to make a mental note of everything you’ll need a day or two before you travel. Then when you pack lay out your clothes for each day you’ll be away and pack by outfit. This way you’ll be sure to pack just the right amount; not too little or too much. I even have one frequent traveler who uses FedEx to ship his clothes to his hotel a day or two before check in. That way he only has to bring his computer bag and not wait for checked luggage. With FedEx’s notifications he can rest assured that clean, pressed shirts and trousers await his arrival.
Check Bags All the Way Through
Often my passengers have multiple connections. They fly from one major hub to another and then onto a smaller satellite city. In these cases I always urge them to stick with carriers from the same alliance or at least with airlines that have interline agreements. Why? Well aside from the obvious value of earning points and having your hard earned elite status be recognized, this also means that they can more smoothly check their bags all the way through to their final destination. In places where you have a tight connect this is a must.
In some markets like the United States travelers must clear US Immigration at their first point of entry and they must pick up their bags for Customs. However if the bags have been tagged all the way through to their final destination this is still easier on the passenger. All he or she has to do is re-drop their bags off on the connecting flights belt or with the Agent. This is much more simple than going to the Departures level and re-checking in. Also at your first point of departure be sure to ask the Check In Agent to give you all the Boarding Passes you’ll need. When possible this is another great time saver.
Use Non-Direct Routes
When I fly for pleasure I like to try to find connecting routes rather than direct ones. Why? Well often the ticket price is cheaper, usually passenger loads are less and so you’ll receive more attentive service and there should be more of a chance that you have an empty seat beside you. And the big bonus with this strategy is that these flights will often have more upgrade space. Finally you’ll also usually earn more EQM and FF Miles which, even if you’re a FA, is a nice thing to have.
So what about you? What tips and tactics do you use to make travel more enjoyable? Our community wants to know.