5 Key Flight Attendant Tips For Flying During The Holidays

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Believe it or not, the holidays are upon us. Many of you are probably spending time with loved ones for the first time in 2 years. As a retired flight attendant with almost 25 years under my belt, I can confirm: The holidays can get a bit hectic when flying. This stressful time can move us from Cindy Lou Who to the Grinch quite quickly. I have discovered a few tricks that might make your holiday travel experience a little less stressful and a whole lot more cheerful!

1. Don’t Wrap Gifts

If you are going to carry any gifts onboard, you might want to hold off on wrapping them. This will save you any frustration at security if TSA needs to open them to see what’s inside your package. I would use this rule of thumb: if it’s larger than a shirt box, ship it. The more you ship with FedEx, the more you can save.

Remember you must still adhere to the carry-on rules. Another idea is to pack the unwrapped gifts and bring along wrapping paper or bags and tissue to wrap when you arrive. 

2. Arrive Early

Yes, you’ve heard it before, but the holidays are not the time to play beat-the-clock at the airport. In recent years, I’ve noticed the least stressed passengers have downloaded apps to help with things like online check-in, luggage tracking, and flight statuses. Also, weigh your bags before leaving home if possible. I typically double-check with the airlines to see what’s allowed so I don’t end up paying extra. 

Pro Tip: Most airline apps allow you to select your seat, so be sure to choose wisely. Southwest Airlines only has open seating but you can get bumped up to an earlier boarding by paying more. Sitting together may be important if you’re traveling with a small child or older folks who need more assistance.

3. Pack Smart

You don’t need to overpack, but you do need to pack smart when it comes to your clothes. Think about your activities and the length of your trip. Find things that can be worn multiple times, used indoors and outdoors, or see if there is a washer and dryer in your hotel or rental.

I enjoy clothing from KUHL. It can be used in any climate. It’s wash and wear, lightweight but stylish. My favorite item is the men’s Interceptr Zip. After holiday outings, don’t forget something to lounge around in. I enjoy my WUAI onesie hooded jumpsuit. Don’t knock it until you try it!

4. Carry-On Bag Essentials

Due to more people traveling during the holidays, plan for interruptions. You should pack extra snacks, entertainment, medication, cash on hand, battery chargers and cords for your electronics, and your empty S’well bottle. Once you have cleared TSA, you can fill your bottle up at one of the hydration stations.

I recently purchased a charger, myCharge, with cords already attached and now I don’t leave home without it. Make sure you pack all keys: car, home, and luggage, in your carry-on and not your checked bags. One of those little toothbrush sets you get at the dentist’s office will come in handy for keeping those teeth white and your breath fresh. Disposable wet wipes are also useful. Basically, just be prepared for anything out of the ordinary.

5. Checked Bag Tips

Again, if you packed any gifts inside, be sure to keep the receipts with you. I highly recommend that your bags are identifiable. They should be well tagged on the outside with your information: name, address, phone, plus some personal attachment. Use something that you will recognize immediately when the bags begin to show up on the carousel. Most airline apps now share your bag location with you within the app. This year, I will use the AirTag by Apple inside my checked bags.

It’s also a good idea to have identifiable labels inside the lining of your bags for extra security and identification. I just had these made at my local copy store on a little plastic plate that I glued to the frame.

I hope these tips will help you have a relaxing and stress-free visit with family and friends. My best piece of advice: Remember to always live in the moment and create lasting memories. It’s your chance to leave footprints for others to see your journey.

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