Holiday Travel Tips From TPG’s Flight Attendant Insider

Dec 20, 2016

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Travel has become at best, stressful and other times, well… just plain feral. Summertime is the worst of the worst, with crying babies by the truckload, endless weather delays and hot, sweaty runs through overcrowded, overheated terminals to make a flight that turns out to be delayed anyway — I know, you’re cringing already. Having spent countless holidays traveling as a passenger, and now as a crewmember, I thought I’d share a few easy ways to help you make it to your long-awaited holiday travel destination — with your sanity intact.

1. Go to Your Happy Place

No, not your cottage on Fire Island or that resort you love on Maui. I’m talking about your everyday happy place — that thing you do or that place you visit in your mind’s eye that lets you escape from it all for a few minutes when you really need to. Maybe it’s the dark chocolate sea salt caramels you swore off or an episode of that one TV show you never have time to watch. Whatever it is that makes you decompress, put it in your carry-on. When the going gets tough, go to your happy place. You — and the people around you — will be better off for it.

2. Just Check It!

One of the biggest hassles with holiday travel are all the carry-on bags — everyone and their mother has packed the kitchen sink, fights break out over space in the overhead bins and you end up with no legroom because you had to stuff something under the seat in front of you. Three words of advice: Just. Check. It. Yes, you’ll probably have to pay $25, but honestly, what’s $25 compared to the stress of fighting, stuffing, waiting, gate-checking and then running out of those happy-place chocolates in your bag because you started to binge? Don’t put a price on your happiness — do yourself a favor, check your bag and easily eliminate some stress.

3. Timing Is Everything

Holiday travel is rife with cancellations and delays, many of which are weather-related. (Hello, snowstorms!) Yes, that 40-minute connection in Atlanta looks great on paper, but so does communism. Book the two-hour connection instead, thus giving yourself a reasonable margin of error just in case. Mother Nature is temperamental at the best of times and simply cannot be trusted. If everything is on time, you bought yourself enough time to enjoy a coffee (or a cocktail) and you can casually stroll over to your next gate instead of sprinting. Another tip: always pack a bathing suit. You never know where the delays and cancellations might leave you stranded and once the skies clear, you’ll want to enjoy the pool at the nice resort the airline is putting you up in.

4. Pack a Survival Kit

Every holiday traveler should have a survival kit. Even if you do time your connections well, you just never know where you’ll end up and for how long. The kit should include your happy place item (obvi) as well as deodorant (long runs through terminals do not a rose-smelling passenger make); underwear (unless you’re John Hamm, commando isn’t a good look); a toothbrush; a t-shirt; and a few liquor minis. When the proverbial poo hits the fan, that’s one less line you’ll have to stand in and you can get to the hotel ahead of all the poorly prepared folks who need to wait for an airline-issued survival kit with far less cooler — and less useful — items than yours will have.

5. Keep It Cool

When all else fails and you do end up delayed, cancelled, rerouted, diverted or just plain stuck, keep your cool. Remember that the vast majority of delays around the holidays are indeed weather related and not the fault of the airline nor the one agent rebooking all 150 of you. Triple Platinum 18K Elite Status won’t do anything for you if you’re screaming at the agent on the other end of the counter. The customer who actually gets that coveted, last seat on the next flight out or the suite at the hotel is going to be the one who says “Please,” “Thank you,” and offers the agent a piece of that yummy chocolate you have in your bag. Having been in the service industry for more than 15 years now, I can guarantee you that the customer who shows even a little bit of empathy get just that: the empathy, compassion and upgrade they’re looking for. Stay calm, cool and collected and it will all work out.

I want to wish all of you a joyous, happy holiday season filled with friends, love and laughter. And of course, a happy, healthy, prosperous and travel-filled 2017. See you all in the new year!

What are your secrets for surviving a crazy holiday travel season? Share them with us, below.

Featured image courtesy of Mario Tama via Getty Images.

 

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