7 Things Flight Attendants Personally Avoid When Flying During The Festive Season

Don't make these errors when you're travelling at this time of year.

Whether you’re a frequent flier or only fly around the holidays, it’s safe to say everyone wants a smooth and hassle-free experience.

According to a NerdWallet survey conducted by The Harris Poll, 40% of Americans plan to travel for the December holidays including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Because of the high volume of people, airports might be a bit busier than usual ― but there are some ways you can make your travels go more smoothly.

No one has flying down to a science like airline employees. We spoke with flight attendants about what they would personally never do when traveling at the holidays based on their own experiences. Here’s what they said:

Flight attendants avoid short layovers.

In many instances, airlines don’t fly directly to your destination so you have to hop on a connecting flight. If that’s the case, you want to make sure you have a layover with ample time.

Always give yourself extra connection time as your incoming flight can potentially be delayed due to weather, especially in the winter,” said McKenna Ford Henrichs, flight attendant for a major U.S. airline. “Even if there isn’t bad weather in your specific destinations, the place your plane is coming from could have bad weather ... it’s always so important to give yourself two to four hours of wiggle room between connecting flights.”

They aren’t rude to flight attendants.

Although you might be excited to go see your family, remember that the flight attendants are spending their holidays with you instead of their loved ones. With that in mind, Henrichs stressed that you should treat flight staff with kindness ― even when you’re frustrated.

“Most of the time the problem is completely out of their control and getting attacked by passengers all day will literally only make everyone’s day worse and get you nowhere,” Henrichs said.

They don’t leave the day before they need to be somewhere.

Flight attendant Valerie Fraser said she’d never take a flight the day before she has to be somewhere, especially around the holidays.

“Travel schedules are never guaranteed and winter weather can throw things astray sometimes, so I’d always give at least a one- or two-day buffer,” Fraser said.

They don’t put something important in a checked bag.

While your checked bag will usually make it to your destination without a problem, sometimes they do get lost or delayed in transit. Make sure you keep your important items on you in your carry-on or personal item. (This applies to gifts, too!)

“I’d never put something I can’t live without in a checked bag,” Henrichs said. “If there is something you absolutely need ― like makeup, inhaler, medication, phone charger ― always take it in a personal bag with you. Never check it.”

Make sure you bring all your important items in your carry on.
Photosomnia via Getty Images
Make sure you bring all your important items in your carry on.

They don’t wrap gifts before flying.

You may be traveling around the holidays to visit family and friends to celebrate the season. But if you’re traveling with gifts, then you’ll want to save the wrapping until you get to your destination.

Just in case TSA needs to do additional screening while you’re passing through security, they may need to unwrap any gifts or items you have in your bag for inspection,” said Rich Henderson and Andrew Kothlow, the flight attendants behind Two Guys on a Plane. “You’d hate to spend all that time wrapping gifts just to have them unwrapped by the TSA.”

Plus, lots of airports have gift wrapping stations available before you get to your gate so you can always stop in there if necessary.

They don’t skip bringing extra layers.

You’ll always want to dress warm when on a plane because there’s a chance it could be cold onboard.

“Every plane’s heating and cooling system is different and some planes will be hot and some will be freezing,” Heinrichs said. “I always wear a tank top under a sweater and a coat over that.”

They don’t arrive at the airport too late.

Many people travel around the holidays, which means airports will usually be busier than normal. Knowing that information, you’ll want to plan accordingly in terms of traffic and TSA lines.

“Don’t underestimate the quantity of people flying,” Fraser said. “It’s better to be early than to miss your flight, so I recommend giving yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and make your way to your gate.”