Pro Tips for Flying
Travel is a wonderful thing, but getting there by plane can sometimes be stressful. To get the scoop on how to travel like a pro, we spoke with flight attendants Mary Kay Roberts and Kim Niosi as well as Brittany Chaffee, a former flight attendant, to get all their best tips for flying. Here’s what they had to say:
Question: What are your tips for flying like a pro?
- Drink a lot of water, especially if you’re flying early (I suggest packing an empty water bottle in your carry on so you can fill it up on the other side of security). Air travel is extremely dehydrating and it’s important to double up what you’re drinking.
- Dress in layers! Plane temperature fluctuates (the pilots are in charge of the heat) and airlines don’t sell blankets anymore. Beanies and thick socks are always helpful for plane travel. If you are always cold when flying, it’s typically the warmest in the back of the plane.
- If you’re worried about turbulence, the seats right over the wing are usually the smoothest ride.
- Check in to your flight ahead of time.
- Bring some disinfectant wipes. Those tray tables RARELY get cleaned.
- Remember: always wheels out when putting your bag in the overhead bin!
- Pack clothes that don’t require maintenance.
- Color coordinate your outfits ahead of time.
- Lay out all that you think you are going to bring and then put half of it back. You never need as much as you think. Toting too much is stressful.
- The seat pockets are not very clean. I wouldn’t put anything in there.
- Keep your phone with you. People leave their phones or lose them in the seat all the time.
- Bring your own snacks. It can be difficult to find your own specific favorites. Especially if you have any dietary restrictions. Airplanes don’t stock sugar free, gluten free, low salt, low carb.
- Bring a nice pair of flip flops. You can wear them almost anywhere these days.
Question: What do you wish you could tell the average traveler?
BRITTANY: A lot of people are wonderful travelers, but I wish some would understand how much work goes into being a flight attendant. Flight attendants don’t get paid until the airplane door closes, so it’s always important to be kind to them! In fact, I always suggest people befriend them. Flight attendants aren’t airline management and can’t do anything about a delay.
MARY KAY: Be kind to the flight attendants! Traveling should be fun. Always allow extra time. Allow for plenty of time between connections. Why have the stress? Don’t get stressed out if there are delays due to weather or maintenance. You have no control, nor does the flight attendant. It is always about safety, and it will all work out in the end.
Question: When you fly, what are your essentials?
BRITTANY: I love books and crossword puzzles for flights, and headphones of course. I always like to buy an orange juice for early morning flights because the sugar helps with light-headedness inflight. I also like to have a back-up protein bar and gum/cough drops. I also love packing rose water facial spray to refresh when we land.
MARY KAY: Extra change of clothing, moisturizer, makeup, aloe spray, safety pins. A sweater or jacket on the plane. The airplane can be quite cool, even in the summer.
KIM: Saline nasal spray because planes are so dry, Emergen-C gummies (if someone is coughing next to me on the plane, I take a gummy!), extra Ziplock baggies always come in handy, and a packable shopping bag. I love to shop!
More Tips for Flying
- Get TSA Pre-Check. For only $85 you can take the fast lane through security. And that’s $85 for 5 years. You won’t have to remove your laptop, liquids, shoes, belts or light jackets when you go through security. For those who travel with any frequency, this is a game changer. CLEAR also offers expedited access to security, but it’s more expensive and isn’t available at every airport.
- Invest in great luggage. My Away Carry On is my secret weapon when it comes to travel. Its wheels turn 360 degrees, so my shoulder isn’t sore from awkwardly lugging the thing by the time I reach my gate. It also has a built-in battery so I can charge all my devices while I wait to board. It’s the perfect size so I can pack everything I need and skip checking a bag.
- If you want to sit next to someone you’re traveling with, but neither of you wants a middle seat, book two aisle seats right across from each other.
- Be prepared just in case the airline loses your checked bag(s). Pack outfits for 1-2 days, valuables and medications in your carry-on to avoid a nightmare.
- Get to know your home airport. At terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St.Paul International airport you can get quickly through security with a little-known trick. As long as you’ve only got a carry-on bag, you can get dropped off at the Intercontinental Hotel. You don’t have to be a guest there to use the security entrance up on the third level. (open 5:15-10 a.m. daily)
I also asked Julie Thompson, Julieta vice president, for her tips for flying. Here’s what she said:
My must-haves for travel and travel tips: Bose noise-canceling headphones, moisturizer, cashmere scarf, Briggs & Riley luggage. I pack everything Marie Kondo-style. Saves space, and I can see everything I brought. Shoes always go in their own individual bags. This protects the shoes from getting scratched and protects your clothing from the bottoms of the shoes.
If you liked these pro tips for flying, check out these other posts on travel: