The Plane Truth About Flying
The last time I flew for business was over four years ago. We had moved from NYC to the South Shore of Massachusetts a year before COVID struck, and the only business travel I have done, post-pandemic, has been by commuter train from Kingston to Boston–change to Amtrak at South Station then on to the lovely new Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station, since most of my clients are in New York. The others have been Zoomable, but that’s changing.
People want to meet in person again, so I planned to connect with my colleagues in NYC then fly together to Chicago for a meeting and return home that same evening, which meant I had to do the whole train thing for that to happen. I was up for it!
While the train portion of this journey went pretty smooth, all things considered, I am still processing the sh*tshow that has become domestic air travel. I say “domestic” because I hear international is not the incredible clusterf*ck we seem to be experiencing in this country.
Long story short-ish, the mere fact that I was cautioned to give myself two hours to get to LaGuardia and serpentine through security at 5:30 am should have alerted me to what to expect…and yet, I was blown away by the sheer volume of people waiting on-line to get clearance at that hour.
Since I hadn’t been flying, I didn’t have TSA pre-check, and watched with envy as people who did, sailed through a proprietary line. Then, as if by magic, a very kind and attentive young woman asked if I was interested in learning about a new biometric form a pre-check called CLEAR that would allow me to sail through too. YES PLEASE!!!
Buy a Pre-Check Service
If you plan on flying for business or pleasure, buy a pre-check service! Get TSA Pre-check or Global Entry or all three options, cause it’s not going to get any better any time soon. I was thrilled to have CLEAR on the return flight, which did not happen on the same day as planned. The flight was canceled as seems to be more the rule than the exception these days, and we were forced to stay overnight in Chicago, causing each of us unneeded stress.
On the flight to NYC the next morning at 7 am (same enormous volume of early-morning passengers on- line at O’Hare) I was fortunate to sit next to one of the flight attendants who offered some context about the state of air travel and shared some excellent tips on how to navigate the situation over the next few months and beyond.
Plus, when I got home, hertelier’s own Emily Goldfischer forwarded me information she had seen on a friend’s feed, who saw it on another friend’s feed, and on and on, with good nuggets of advice about air travel, most of which were among those given to me by my new friend, Dawn, the flight attendant, which I will now pass along to you.
So, fasten your seatbelts…it’s well worth a read!
Flying Tips courtesy of travel journalist Debby Waldman on Facebook
Above all remember: Traveling is a privilege.
Kindness toward fellow passengers and airline employees goes a long way.
Ticket agents and flight attendants are not responsible for late or canceled flights.
They’re frustrated when this happens too. Again, kindness goes a long way.
Copied…from a friend's FB feed...
Notes from a flight attendant:
Flying this summer is ROUGH!!! I feel like as a Flight Attendant I should attempt to share some tips to get you through airline travel for the foreseeable future. ✈️✈️
1. Things are not good..... if its less than 7 hours - DRIVE! I'm not kidding. There is nothing enjoyable about flying right now. On any airline. If you must fly, keep reading. 🚗
2. Download and use the app of the airline you are flying. You can do everything on it - get your boarding pass, track your bags, see your incoming plane, and change a flight. It sure beats waiting in a long line to talk to an agent! Trust me - Usually these apps will tell you a flight is canceled before the crew even knows! 📲
3. Fly MUCH earlier than you need to - a whole day early if its important!! This week I saw many people miss important things like weddings, funerals, cruises, international connections, and graduations. The tears were very real, for very real reasons, and there was nothing I could do! If you have to be somewhere, spend the extra money, go a day early. Have a glass of wine and stay in a hotel, enjoy your night not being stressed while everyone else misses their events. 🍷
4. ALWAYS fly the first flight in the morning so you have all day to be rebooked if the shit hits the fan. Yes, that means it might be a 3:00 alarm, but morning flights don't cancel nearly as often.⏰
5. This is not unique to this year, but keep in mind summer is thunderstorm season. A single storm can shut down a whole airport. We can't fly through them. Storms usually build as the day gets later. Book early flights! ⛈
6. Schedule long layovers - Your 1-hour layover is NOT enough anymore. 30 minutes, not a chance. 3 hours minimum. 🏃♀️🏃🏃♂️
7. What you see on the news is an understatement. We are short staffed and overworked. Not just pilots and flight attendants, but also ground crews. Without ground crews there is no one to park the planes, drive jetways, get your bags on/off planes, or scan boarding passes. This causes many delays that snowball throughout the day. Sometimes HOURS.(Another reason morning flights are best!) 👀
8. When flight crews get delayed we time out. We can NOT fly longer than 16 hours. It's illegal. So it doesn't matter if you have a wedding to get to, when we are done we are done. The way things are now, there are no backup crews, so when this happens your flight cancels. (Now you are starting to see why those morning flights are best!) 😴
9. Avoid connecting in Newark (Or any New York airport for that matter). It is literal hell. You have a 50/50 chance your flight will cancel or miss your connection. They have been canceling flights at their starting points just to keep the planes out because there just aren't enough people to manage the planes, so the gates stay full. Also, the restaurants are expensive, it is not a great place to be stuck. 💩
10. Be nice. As stated above, we are overworked and tired. We will not help you if you are mean. No one cares that you are going to miss your cruise if you are an asshole. So even if we can help, we will save our help for someone nice. Tensions are high. Our patience is gone. If you make us mad - you will not be flying on our planes. We will leave you behind without a second thought, and laugh about you later. 🥰
11. Being drunk on an airplane is a federal offense, so don't overdo it. If you drink too much at the bar waiting for your delayed flight you risk not being allowed to fly at all. We are too tired to deal with your drunk ass when we have legitimate issues to deal with. 🍻
12. Get trip insurance if you have a lot of money invested. I hate the whole idea of this, but I also hate the idea of losing money. Example: I was working a flight yesterday that waited over an hour for a gate. A family of 8 missed their flight to Rome. The only flight of the day. They were going to a cruise which they would now miss. They were all crying, there was nothing I could do. (Also a reason to fly a day early!) 🛳
13. Flights are FULL. If you buy cheap seats you will not be able to sit with your family. It says so when you purchase your ticket!! Flight Attendants aren't there to rearrange the whole plane just so you can sit with your family because you tried to save $100 on a third-party website. 💸
14. Speaking of third-party websites and saving money..... Like I said flights are FULL. If a flight is oversold, and no one volunteers to give up their seats, who do you think is the first to be bumped? You guessed it, the family that saved a few $$ by using sites like Expedia, Kayak, Hotwire etc. 🤷♀️
15. Pack smart. Don't be "That guy" Don't hold up boarding because you have your extenders open till they are busting and you can't figure out how to make it fit in the overhead. (Passengers are stressed too, they can be aggressive when boarding a delayed flight) 🛍
16. Take showers, brush your teeth, leave the perfume off, don't eat stinky food (Caesar salad and tuna fish I'm talking to you!), and bring headphones. Trust me. These things sound basic but add to the stress on crowded planes. If you are stuck on the tarmac for 3 hours after a 4-hour flight, you will thank me for this. 💜
17. Bring a sweater if you tend to be cold. So tired of half-naked girls asking me to turn the heat up. NO. Wear clothes!! Side note: If you dress like this and ask for heat, there's a chance I will turn the AC up. 🥶
18. That’s not water on the bathroom floor. For the love of God wear shoes to the bathroom!!! 🤮
19. Don't tell a Flight Attendant they look tired. We are and we know. You may cause us to ugly cry right there in galley. 😭
20. Happy Travels!