If you’re a longtime reader, then you probably already know my number one and two travel tips for being treated like a rock star and inspiring good karma when traveling. It’s been years since I last wrote about them and I recently received a question on Twitter, so I was inspired to write an updated post, especially since I just took my first flight with my whole family in over two years. So here goes:

Reader Question
I’m flying for the first time since last February to NYC for a family emergency. I’m fully vaccinated, but a little nervous. I want to bring something for the fight crew as a thank you for them having to deal with idiots who don’t want to mask up. Any suggestions?

My quick response
I quickly replied: “I would bring a bag of Hershey kisses or Starbucks gift certificates or something like that, which are wrapped individually. But @Heather_Poole might know best.”

I tagged Heather Poole, who is a flight attendant for a major carrier and the author of the New York Times bestseller CRUISING ATTITUDE: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers. Heather replied, saying: “Just saying “thank you” means a lot. Little gifts are always appreciated. @JohnnyJet is correct about individually wrapped items & gift cards. Crew isn’t supposed to accept food that isn’t wrapped.

My long response
I’ve been meaning to write a much longer response so here it goes. Hi Azurest79, first of all, that’s very kind of you to want to take care of the flight crew. Secondly, you’re not alone in being a little nervous for flying for the first time since the pandemic began. I had re-entry anxiety myself and canceled what was supposed to be my first flight in April as I just wasn’t ready. Thirdly, because of the mask mandate, you probably won’t encounter too many “idiots” on the plane as flight attendants now have some power. If someone acts up, they will not only be kicked off the plane, banned from flying the airline and arrested, but also fined (up to $52,500).

My number one and two tips for traveling are:
Always be genuinely nice. If you are, then people will go out of their way to be nice in return.

2. I almost always bring a small gift for the flight crew and gate agents. Usually, bags of Hershey Kisses (nothing with nuts, since people on the plane could have a nut allergy) but I also have $5 Starbucks gift cards in my carry-on just in case I run out of chocolate or cash to give to housekeepers. BTW: Here’s how much I tip housekeepers and a unique way to make sure they get it.

Because I took COVID-19 seriously and didn’t travel, I took over a year off from flying or even stepping into an airport; the longest stretch in my adult life not flying was three to four weeks. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’ve flown several times, including just the other day with my wife and two kids. It was my 22-month-old daughter’s first time on a plane and my wife and my four and a half year old son’s first time in over two years! Although, my son has been on over 60 flights between the ages of 8 months and 2.5 years so he’s no stranger to flying.

When I fly with my kids, I give them the chocolates to hand to the flight attendants and another bag for the pilots, since I always ask them to sign their flight log books (Here’s how to get a kid’s flight log book for free).

Whenever I give chocolates to the flight attendants, it’s amazing how appreciative they are. Usually, they all come by at some point during the flight to say thank you. Just like they did on our flight on Saturday. Not only did the flight attendants treat me and my wife like rock stars but it was also amazing how they treated my kids like rock stars, too. They invited them into the cockpit to meet the pilots and came by with extra treats for all of us.

Note: The only way to do this is to be truly genuine. If you’re only doing it to get better service, then most people’s sixth sense will kick in and your trick could backfire. But if you give with no expectation of anything in return, you will likely be pleasantly surprised.


14 Comments On "My Number 1 and 2 Tips For Being Treated Like A Rock Star On Flights"
  1. Kelly|

    You took the pandemic seriously? Yet you are flying before the pandemic has been declared over? You are traveling with your young kids, which I assume have not received the injection? You are traveling for pure enjoyment and not out of necessity during a pandemic? Interesting how you define seriously…

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Yep, I followed CDC guidance all along and, like so many people, refrained from travel for over a year. Current CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated Americans can travel domestically while still adhering to safety guidelines like wearing a mask and social distancing. I don’t make the rules but I’ve been abiding by them and will continue to do so.

  2. Elly Tucker|

    One of the things that I have noted this past year is that Johnny Jet was someone I wanted to follow. I listened to you on Leo Laporte. I really appreciated how honest you were with your feelings of vulnerability during the past year. Thank you from a huge fan.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thank you for the kind comment

  3. Scott|

    What’s with your cute kids walking into the open cockpit? I think cockpit doors are supposed to be closed and locked, even on the ground.
    I am hoping for a better cockpit security on any flight that I am on

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Hey Scott,

      I don’t think I’ve ever been on a plane when the cockpit door wasn’t open prior to pushback.

  4. SF|

    how are you handling tips for housekeeping in hotels where they are short staffed so not providing any on a daily basis? it’s common now in NYC due to LockDown people not able to come back to work until probably September when schools re-Open .

    at a very nice Marriott they only sent housekeeping once a week for over 2 week stay. I’ve only seen the clean team in the fitness center is the same 2 guys so I tip them directly. but what should I leave in the room, i.e., it won’t be the people who cleaned it when I first got here or any time in between. (we have to go to front desk and ask for towels, Kleenex) I guess I leave a lump sum with the concierge and ask them to disburse it to Clean Team?

  5. Gigi Schultz|

    I’ve always noticed the cockpit door open when boarding. I first thank the flight attendants then kind of peek around the door to the flight crew and also thank them. Then privately say a little prayer for all of our safety!

  6. MaryBeth Verge|

    Hello Johnny Jet…
    I enjoy reading your articles!
    I am a flight attendant for a major carrier as well. We truly appreciate the small gifts like chocolate, however, it’s a small bag of Ghirardelli or Godiva (all individually wrapped) that shows a little more thoughtfulness than ordinary Hershey kisses. But it is the thought that counts.
    Also, the flight deck door is almost ALWAYS open during boarding for passengers to say a quick hello from the boarding door.

  7. Bill|

    I get you’re a nice guy and fly a ton. I, however, while always polite and appreciative, am not tipping a crew after I’ve paid $1500 for a stopover flight to Europe…whenever that is.

  8. Dayna Springfield|

    Hi Johnny! Love all your tips! When do you suggest handing them out? To the flight attendant standing on the plane when you first walk in, or once seated? Do you give to one to give to them all? I always say thank and be super nice, I appreciate them! I once saw a newly married couple give a small bag of candy (I’m talking 2 fun size) to a gate agent, then asked to be upgrade for their honeymoon – so insincere! Thank you!

  9. Emily Bacian|

    That is really thoughtful! I know the crews work long hours and it can be grueling. I’m sure that goes a long way! How many crew are there normally? 3 attendants and 2 pilots? I am flying soon and want to know how many to bring so everyone gets a little treat. :)

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Depends on the size of the plane. Always 2 pilots and could be between 1 – 18 flight attendants.

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