My mother-in-law has done it again. She sends me travel articles published in the U.K. papers; she reads a lot of them as she used to live there. The last story she sent me was this one on the ‘right’ way to ask airline passengers to switch seats with you, which also came from the Daily Mail. Today, she shared an article titled:  Upgrade your flight for FREE: Emirates flight attendant shares 10 travel hacks. RELATED: What Do Flight Attendants Notice First When You Board the Plane?

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To be honest, I thought for sure the tips would be a load of rubbish, especially considering the source (The Daily Mail, not my mother-in-law haha) but to my surprise, there were some solid tips, especially for travelers who are flying internationally or on airlines that weigh carry-on baggage.

The flight attendant interviewed in the article was Caroline Kneitz. She’s 34 and spent six years working as an Emirates flight attendant and according to the article, it was “during that time she picked up a slew of insider tips on how to turn an economy ride into a more premium experience.”

I am a consumer advocate and pride myself on sharing travel tips that will help people get out there to see the world, cheaper, smarter, safer and more comfortably. Some of my recent tips include:

Here’s How You Can Really Get Upgraded to First Class
Here’s How to Make Coach Feel Like First Class
15 Tips for Surviving a Long Flight
12 Ways to Save Money on Baggage Fees
12 Passport Tips that Will Save You Time, Money and Headaches
10 Airport Security Hacks to Make Your Airport Experience Smoother

As for Caroline’s tips, they’re below. I left out her explanations (you can read all her reasonings in the full article) and I’ve added my commentary below each of her tips:

1. Bring the crew treats to get first class treatment
It’s interesting that her number one tip is something I’ve been preaching and practicing for decades. I learned this from one of my very first trips back in the early 90s. I used to bring designer chocolates for the flight attendants and gate agents but since I travel so much, it got expensive. So now, I bring a bag of Hershey Kisses or something comparable (and always something that has individually wrapped chocolates so the crew can share safely without having to put dirty hands in the same bag). I stay away from peanut butter or anything with nuts since my son and many others have allergies. You can also give flight attendants gift cards from popular airport vendors like Starbucks. We generally opt for chocolates though and my kids love handing them out when they board the plane. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to thank your hard-working crew and it is always appreciated.

Caroline’s second tip is:

2. Bring your own food and ask for it to be heated up
I’ve always told people to bring their own snacks and drinks so you’re not at the mercy of the flight attendant or in case there’s a long delay but I’ve never thought of asking the FAs to heat something up. I’m one of the unicorns who usually likes airplane food so I won’t do it but I will consider this for my kids. Since my son has so many food allergies, I always bring ramen noodles and ask for hot water.

3. Order a special meal for quicker service
I’ve known this for a while and it’s very true. When I fly up front where they’re serving food (on Emirates and other long-haul flights, they serve food for free in all cabins), you will always get your food first if doing a special order. I sometimes get spicy Asian but these days, I order a kids meal and American Airlines does a great job with spaghetti and meatballs on their LAX-JFK flight. But they don’t always load it so bring a snack as a back-up.

4. Ask for doubles if you enjoy drinking
I don’t drink alcohol so this tip is useless to me and I don’t think it would ‘fly’ on U.S. carriers flying domestically as they charge for booze. Also, I recommend limiting your alcohol intake, especially when flying. It dehydrates you and is one of the main reasons for unruly passenger behavior. Not to mention, who wants to be this guy: Drunk Passenger on American Airlines Throws Up on First Class Seatmates

5. Check in via an app so your hand luggage isn’t weighed
This is a brilliant tip as I didn’t realize you can bypass the scale this way. I usually check-in online but the times I haven’t, like in Germany and England, I have had to remove items from my carry-on. Although, if I remember correctly, in Australia, they weigh your bags at the gate. I think it was Virgin Blue but it could have been QANTAS, too.

6. Bring a pillowcase to make your own pillow
This is a great tip and it’s also one way to bring on an extra carry-on as I know some travelers take the foam pillow out and replace it with clothes. Here’s another tip for you: How to Save Money With a Secret Third Carry-On

7. Bring your own cleaning products to be extra safe
Even before the pandemic, I would wipe down my seat and any high touch points, including the window shade, overhead compartment latch and entertainment screen with disinfectant wipes. These portable pouches of disinfectant wipes are easy to travel with.

8. Noise-canceling headphones are a game changer
If you don’t want to hear the engine roar or kids screaming, then bring noise canceling headphones but more importantly, make sure your phone or computer is loaded up with music or movies because without background noise, you will only hear the noise you’re trying to avoid more clearly.

9. Create your own spa in the sky
For some people, women mostly, I would think, a long flight is a good time to spa, using face masks and the like. Staying hydrated is definitely essential for men and women alike and if your skin tends to get dry, make sure you travel with a good hand cream and lip balm. My wife swears by the cult favorite LaNeige lip sleeping mask and for hands and body, Elizabeth Arden’s Miracle Balm. For me, to be more comfortable in coach, I bring my carry-on bag down from the overhead compartment once the seatbelt sign goes off. I only do it in a bulkhead or exit row when I have a lot of legroom and then put a pillow or my sweatshirt on top so it’s a comfortable footrest.

10. Book an emergency seat to stretch your legs – but to be safest book aft left
As you can tell from the tip above, I do book the exit row seats when I can. I can’t when traveling with my kids since they’re still too little. But why book the back left side of the plane? I learned something new. She says: “If you’re looking for the safest place to sit, this will be on the left hand side at the back of the plane or aft left. We were taught as cabin crew that this area provides the least risk in the event of an explosion or crash. That is also where crew would place a bomb if we found it on the plane in-flight because if it exploded it would cause the least damage.”

Read Caroline’s tips in full here.


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5 Comments On "Flight Attendant Shares Her Top 10 Travel Hacks Including Tips I've Never Even Thought of Before"
  1. joseph|

    For tip 10, what does aft left mean? Is that Port or Starboard?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      towards the stern (rear) of the aircraft

  2. Holly|

    So is that back left when sitting on the plane or when boarding and walking towards the back?

  3. Bob|

    No, what is “left”? Is that looking forward or backwards? This is what Joseph asked. Is it port or starboard? There are two lefts but only one port or starboard side as that always references forward.

  4. Anonymous|

    Just wondering why is aft left safer than aft right?

    Thank you

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