DO I REALLY NEED TO TEACH YOU HOW TO PACK A BAG?
Apparently how to properly pack a bag is a very hot topic. So hot that there are literally thousands of video tutorials on youtube teaching you to “Pack Like A Pro”. Tips on what you can and can’t bring on an airplane and the proper way to roll your underwear and stuff it into your shoes. Really? I’m not one to tell ANYONE what they should or shouldn’t do with there underwear. This also isn't going to be a mushy post about packing your patience when heading home for the holidays. Wine... I suggest packing wine. Actually, don’t. It’s heavy and you will have to check your bag. Just pick up a case when you land.
I will say this: If you still have a home to go home to, two living parents who still inhabit the same space and have their wits about them, you have hit the jackpot. You are not aloud to complain or ask Santa for anything. I’m serious. Additionally, if you have someone to love and kiss you at midnight on New Years Eve….well, aren’t you just showing off now?
So in preparation for all the holiday cheer, let me help get you from point A to point B with a little inside scoop for less stress during this holiday travel season. Honestly the less stressed you are, the less of a headache you become to the people who have to work during the holidays.
CHECK WITH TSA
Yes! There is an app for that. In addition to TSA PreCheck (which is life changing) and Mobile Passport (which makes it a breeze to pass through customs on international flights) I suggest getting the TSA app. The excuse of “I didn’t know” is just that, it’s an excuse. There are PLENTY of ways to find out what you can and can not bring in your carry on and checked luggage this holiday season. For starters TSA has an app you can put on your phone! It’s actually pretty cool, and they also have a blog that talks about what dumb shit people tried to take thru security on a weekly basis. No one is going to call you up and say “Bob, you know you can’t pack that authentic civil war musket that you bought for little Timmy for Christmas in your carry on bag.”
If you have a question on what you can or can not bring on a plane, please don’t text or call your neighbor’s-sister’s-boyfriend’s Aunt Penny, a former flight attendant for PanAm. NEWS FLASH, she is not going to know if you can bring your smart suitcase with a built-in phone charger. You should totally hit her up for some stories on the heyday of flying when inflight cocktails and cigarettes were the norm though. Also, the answer is no to the smart suitcase because it has a lithium battery that will have to be removed from the bag prior to storage.
If downloading an app to your phone is too hard to handle, you can always check the airline’s website.
If reading is not your forte, they even have a phone number where you can call and ask questions.
Fascinating, I know.
The point is PLEASE CHECK BEFORE YOU GET TO THE AIRPORT because if you are holding up the security line, the check-in line, or any line because of your civil war musket, you need to know EVERYONE HATES YOU... including little Timmy. Don’t be that person.
DUFFLE BAGS ARE YOUR FRIEND
If you are planning to “carry on” this holiday season, I strongly suggest using a duffle bag. They even have duffle bags with wheels now! Total jackpot. The reason behind this is soft duffle bags are easier to fit in the overhead bins compared to hard roller boards. Otherwise known as the larger, hard-shelled wheelie bags. Duffels are also less likely to get checked when space in those overhead bins starts to run out.
When packing said duffle bag, go for the classic 5,4,3,2,1 system. Five pairs of undies...if you are into that sort of thing. Four shirts or tops, three pairs of pants, skirts or bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one wild card item. So if you are going away for a the holidays and plan on having a fancy night out on the town that would be your cocktail dress or sports jacket and button down. You can always adjust accordingly based on the trip and destination. This is just to help you get started. If you are like me and are planning to spend the holidays in Florida, I’m all for tossing out those five pairs of undies out and opting for five bathing suits instead. I also suggest picking versatile items and a color scheme. Athleisure wear for lounging around and working out is great. Also, stick with staples and add a pop of color. Black and navy blue have always been the backdrop of my wardrobe (I will forever be an East Coast girl). On a recent business trip to Las Vegas, in the middle of summer, I showed up in black jeans and black loafers… ridiculous, I know.
And my last bit of duffle bag advice: WEAR YOUR HEAVIEST ITEMS. Layers are your friend! Wear the coat with the cardigan and your heaviest shirt underneath. Don’t pack those heavy boots and socks, wear them. Planes are always cold anyway, so even if you get hot it’s much easier to take something off then add layers you didn’t bring. Just make sure you don’t take it all off… that goes for your socks and shoes as well. It’s GROSS! Seriously, nothing gets cleaned… like, ever. It’s a staph infection waiting to happen.
IT’S NICE TO BE NICE.
WE DON'T GET TO SEE OUR FAMILY WE GET TO SEE YOU. DON’T BE AN ASSHAT.
Yes I know that might sound harsh but it’s the truth. I also know you are going to say:
“Well, that’s the industry you chose”
“Well, I’m sure you are getting Holiday pay”
“Well, that’s not my problem”
And you know what? You are right. It’s not your problem and it is the industry we chose. And for about three days during the entire Holiday season from wheels up to wheels down, not including boarding, deplaning, delays, cancelations or diversions, we are getting “Holiday Pay.”
Know what else? It’s a beautiful thing to be kind and truly my only wish this year is to get through those two weeks without being verbally or physically assaulted by the flying public. Shockingly, I’m not being over dramatic. From the past four years, I can share too many stories of men verbally attacking me. One for asking him to hold his jacket until the end of boarding. My plan being to place it on top on his bag, once all bags were stowed. I was informed that he paid for that bin. He was informed he would be taking the next flight after he called me a F@cking C@nt - IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE AND KIDS. She married a winner, that’s for sure. Or the woman who caused a scene and refused to purchase a proper pet carrier because her reusable grocery store bag was fine and she wasn’t told she had to put the pup in a carrier. (It’s literally all over the website when you purchase your ticket, enough said)
Traveling is stressful. Traveling during the holidays is extra stressful. A simple “Hello, I hope your day is going well” goes a long way. Listen to the announcement. Read the menu card. Take a moment and take your headphones off when we ask you what you would like to drink.
HAVE YOUR GRAB AND GO STUFF READY TO GO
Once you have made it to your seat, SIT DOWN. Why do you get up and down and up and down, and grab something from your bag, and oh wait I forgot where I put… SIT DOWN. Before you board the plane, check and make sure you have your “Grab & Go” items ready. I personally keep them in a separate zip lock bag in the front part of my roller board. Once I reach my row, I quickly take off my jacket, remove my travel pillow from my roller board handle, grab my Grab & Go baggie, and stow my roller board or duffle bag in the overhead bin. DONE. There is literally no need for me to get up before the seatbelt sign turns off once we’ve reached 10,000 feet.
What's in my Grab & Go bag? I’m so happy you asked! A book, iPad, two sets of headphones (one for my phone, one for the inflight entertainment system), chapstick, water bottle, eye mask, travel ibuprofen, and a snack. Anything else I need can - and should - wait. The time between boarding and closing the main cabin door is extremely short and no one benefits from being delayed, so the more efficient we can all be the better. Go team!
WATCH THE SAFETY DEMO.
I can hear your eye rolls as I type this. If you do one out of the five things I suggest this holiday season to make your travel as easy as possible, I humbly ask that you not be a giant dick of a human, shut up for three minutes and watch the safety demo. I’m well aware that you have seen it a thousand times. I can tell you I have personally demonstrated it more than that... but here is the thing: the person you are sitting next to may not have. The person in the row in front of you may be on their first flight. And all they hear is you yapping about who won the game last night, and the fact that your stocks are performing better than expected in this last quarter. For three minutes, I kindly ask that you give the crew the respect of your attention, just as you would appreciate respect at your own job. We are trained and paid to evacuate the entire aircraft in 90 seconds. That requires your attention. If you are talking, dismissive or even rude, my faith in you following instructions in a life or death situation is extremely low and that puts the rest of the people on the aircraft in danger. Don’t be a dick.
NO HOT BEVERAGES.
Especially if you are on a flight that is less than an hour. By the time we reach cruising altitude we have about twenty minutes before we start our decent. Add in moderate turbulence with a hot cup of coffee and a crew that is feverishly trying to serve a full plane of passengers, it’s a recipe for disaster and just an added headache. BUT more than it being annoying, it’s actually gross. No joke, you couldn't pay me enough to drink the coffee on the plane and here's why: It’s made from tap water that’s been sitting in a truck and transferred into a tank. Many studies over the years have found it to be a breeding ground for bacteria, in addition to coffee pots that are not cleaned every flight. I would highly recommend against it. Bottled water all the way in my book, or grab a coffee in the terminal before your flight.
All in all, may the force be with you. I hope you take a few minutes to be as prepared as possible before you head out the door and into the security line this holiday season. I hope you take a moment and resist the urge to berate the crew for the unexpected delay. I hope you take some time to be a kind human to another kind human who chose to come to work and not call out, ensuring you can spend it with the ones you love. May your season be merry and bright and my your flights be light.
Till next time. Fly safe birds.
Love, LJ, The Accidental Flight Attendant