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A Flight Attendant Shares Her Secrets to Make Flying Easier

By Bennett Kleinman
Read time: 6 minutes

Flight attendants spend thousands of hours in the sky each year, so who better to ask for tips when it comes to air travel? Their hospitality and breadth of experience ensure the safety and comfort of passengers during each journey. And with so much time spent in the skies, it should come as no surprise that flight attendants are privy to some insider info that the average flier may not be aware of. To find out the scoop, we reached out to Linzey, a flight attendant at a major airline, and asked for some tips and tricks that promise to make any plane trip a whole lot easier. (The conversation that follows has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Toddler sleeping on mother's lap in airplane
Credit: Pollyana Ventura/ iStock

What are your go-to flight essentials for staying hydrated and avoiding jet lag?

I bring a 50-ounce water bottle with me every time I fly (for work and personal travel). You just need to fill it up in the terminal before your flight. My skincare routine is also important to me — I am constantly reapplying hand lotion and lip balm during flights. To avoid jet lag, try to adjust to the time zone you’re going to as quickly as possible.

Any other tips for surviving long flights?

Like I said, stay hydrated! I also bring my own little snack bag, so I don’t have to pay airport prices — and I get to eat what I like if I don’t love the onboard options. The other non-negotiables for me are noise-canceling headphones, hand lotion, lip balm, and a sleep mask. I also like to have a few movies or shows, playlists, and books downloaded for entertainment if I’m not trying to sleep during the flight. I’ve even brought easy card games like Uno when traveling with a friend.

What are some airplane etiquette tips that you wish more people followed? Any passenger pet peeves?

Honestly, I wish people would just be considerate of others. As for pet peeves: Please don’t touch or grab me. There are so many other ways to get my attention.

View of aircraft aisle looking toward front, with passengers seated on either side
Credit: Pollyana Ventura/ iStock

Is there anything that passengers can do to make your job easier?

If you bring a carry-on bag, make sure it fits the size requirements ahead of time. If you can’t lift it above your head and into the bin, you should check it. We aren’t allowed to lift bags and put them overhead for you, which is why I’m stressing this so much. We can help you guide it into the bin, but you still have to be the one to lift it.”

Otherwise, look at the drink and snack options in the seatback pocket before we get to you and know what you want to order. And if we ask you to do something, it is almost always safety related — so please don’t argue with us.

Do people request free upgrades? Are they ever successful?

All of the time. I don’t give out free upgrades. If you want to upgrade, you can talk to the gate agent before boarding starts and learn your options.

What do you think are the best seats in the economy cabin?

I personally prefer a window seat with extra leg room, like an exit row. I think the “best seat” is wherever you are the most comfortable.

Flight attendant in aisle interacting with passenger on airplane
Credit: Shine Nucha/ Shutterstock

Do you have a favorite time of day to fly?

I prefer early morning or late night flying because people typically seem to be more relaxed during those times.

Should I be worried about turbulence? How do flight attendants deal with it?

No! It honestly doesn’t bother me at all. The one kind of turbulence you have to be more concerned with is clear air turbulence because there is no warning for it — which is why you should always have your seatbelt on when you aren’t up for something, even if the seatbelt sign is off.

Close-up image of flight attendant pouring coffee in airplane aisle next to seated passengers
Credit: YakobchukOlena/ iStock

Water, sparkling water, ginger ale, and Coke are probably the most popular drinks, but it really depends on the route. Certain drinks are more common in specific regions or time of day. In terms of beverages worth avoiding, anything with a high sodium content or that causes you personally to bloat. 

As for beverages we don’t like serving, definitely Diet Coke and Coke Zero. They take so much time to pour because they fizz up so much so it just slows the rhythm down a bit. 

What do flight attendants usually eat and drink in the air?

It really depends on the flight attendant. For food, I bring bagged salad kits (with grilled chicken, tofu, or smoked salmon), baked potatoes (toppings of choice), carrot sticks, pickles, fruits, cottage cheese, oatmeal, granola bars, protein shakes, and usually whatever leftovers I have. For drinks, I drink through my 50-ounce water bottle a few times, and I bring my own coffee and tea. I also bring electrolyte powders and usually have a Coke Zero at some point. 

I also asked a few of my friends:

Flight Attendant No. 1: I pack fried rice, noodles, stir fry, burritos, yogurt, cereal, and oatmeal. I drink water and my own coffee and hot tea. Sometimes I also drink Coke Zero and seltzer water.

Flight Attendant No. 2: I drink more water when working than when I’m not. For meals, I often bake a pizza before I leave for a trip or eat chicken wings that heat up well in airplane ovens. And I always have oatmeal and ramen packed, as those can be made with boiling water.

Flight Attendant No. 3: Chicken and rice, popcorn, gummy bears, and lots of water and sparkling water.

Flight Attendant No. 4: I meal prep for every trip, so I bring all my food. My last couple trips I brought “egg rolls in a bowl,” which didn’t need to be reheated. The trip before that, I made sweet potatoes stuffed with chickpeas and kale, which did need to be heated. (I use a tin from the plane and reheat in the oven.) For breakfast, I usually do overnight oats, yogurt, fruit, cottage cheese, or a bagel with cream cheese or avocado. For snacks, I bring pickles and fruits, nuts, and popcorn.

Passenger placing backpack in overhead bin on airplane
Credit: Chalabala/ iStock

Is it better to check my luggage or bring a carry-on? 

It depends on the person and on the trip you’re taking. I never check bags, but I know I can lift my bag and put it in the overhead bin, and I know my tote bag fits under the seat in front of me. If I needed to check a bag for a longer trip, I would absolutely do that and just bring a small backpack with my essentials for the plane.

Any tips or tricks that we didn’t cover?

If you have a great flight attendant, please let them know! And fill out the quick survey or feedback to the company and let the company know when someone is doing an awesome job. It really means so much to us when we get positive feedback, and it takes 30 seconds of your time.

Note: All featured products and deals are selected independently and objectively by the author. Daily Passport may receive a share of sales via affiliate links in content.

Featured image credit: Credit: SeventyFour/ Shutterstock

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