In my years as a flight attendant, I have had passengers try to claim premium seats, embellish their airline status, and even claim to have paid more for their ticket than they did. Passengers do not realize that the flight crew is provided a passenger information list (PIL) or passenger manifest list before the plane leaves the gate. That PIL has a wealth of information on passengers. Here are a few things your flight attendants may know about you when you board the airplane.
You must provide identification before boarding an airplane. Before that airplane leaves the gate, a passenger list is provided to the flight crew listing everyone on board by name. This information is often utilized in premium cabins to personalize the flight experience, but it is available for everyone on the airplane. Immigration also uses this information to prescreen arriving and departing passengers.
Recently a flight had to be returned to the gate because passengers refused to leave premium cabin seating. Although there may be empty seats on the airplane, they are not for the taking. Seat assignments are allotted by ticket pricing, airline status, and other factors. Flight attendants do not assign seating, the gate agents do, but flight attendants have some leverage in reassigning seats while on board. Often passengers are asked to accommodate other passengers traveling together. However, once you are assigned a seat, you do not have to give up that seat assignment unless requested by a flight crew for a specified reason.
Depending on your airline status, you may be entitled to certain perks onboard the airline. Many were the days when I had passengers declare themselves to be “million” milers, platinum passengers, or VIPs demanding a particular service. That information is available on the passenger manifest, so claiming a status you are not is often a waste of breath.
One of the initial reasons for the passenger information list was to assist passengers with connecting flights while onboard. Before landing, the flight crews are provided with connecting gate information. When traveling in a premium cabin, passengers are often individually given connecting gate information before the list is relayed to main cabin passengers. This list also helps flight attendants request other passengers’ patience to allow connecting passengers to deplane first. In some cases, if seats are available, the flight crews can move passengers closer to the front of the airplane for faster deplaning.
With the many security matters that have arisen since 9/11, flight crews now can know if you are traveling alone or with a group, if you have or need medical assistance while onboard the aircraft, or even if you have been a problem passenger on a previous flight. If a problem arises and authorities meet the flight, they will already have your information when the flight lands.
I hope you realize that you are far from anonymous when you board an airplane or travel in general. The flight attendant can note your behavior, bad or good, in your flight itinerary. It’s not all to your detriment however, I remember wishing passengers a happy birthday, congratulating couples on their wedding or anniversary, even upgrading passengers for special milestones, or assisting grieving passengers. Were you aware of how much your information is shared? Please comment below and let me know.
If there’s anything that provides an authentic travel experience, it’s long-haul flights. As a flight attendant, I commuted to work by air from Dallas, London, Germany, and Singapore while being an international flight attendant in New York. It is not a commute I would recommend, but it worked for my lifestyle at the time. Here are a few tips for anyone taking a long-haul flight, especially in the times of Covid.
Sanitizer wipes are a must-have for travel to help protect yourself from the Covid virus. In the case of travel, the more you have, the better. Instead of using one wipe for all the different surfaces, you are cleaning, use one per item. For instance, one wipe for the seatbelt buckle and another for the tray table. Doing this prevents cross-contamination. You will always be able to get more at your destination as they are readily available everywhere.
You cannot board an airplane without wearing a face mask as you are more exposed to many more people and spaces that you are unaware of. However, as with all face masks, frequent changes are necessary. It is preferable to wear masks that do not directly touch your face for long-haul flights as they are more bearable for breathing. Most airlines will provide face masks, but face masks come in many different varieties, and if you have a preference, then it’s logical to have extras of your own.
Wearing comfortable clothing makes sense. However, depending on how many flights you have, a change of clothing between flights is recommended to prevent cross-contamination and spreading any virus you may have touched. Travelers should have a separate bag to place any used clothing.
On long-haul flights, unlike domestic flights, snacks are usually provided. However, having your snacks prepared by your hand is highly recommended. Not only will your snacks be prepared by you, but they will be of your preference and maybe a healthier option than what is provided by the airline.
Class of service
Many will say that all passengers arrive simultaneously, so the class of service does not matter. If you’ve even had an opportunity to travel in premium cabins, you may beg to differ. Traveling premium class is not all about fine dining and china. There’s something to be said for more legroom and being able to recline more than 4 inches on a long-haul flight. Arriving at your destination tired but not worn out is the ultimate goal of premium class travel.
Recently a friend traveled from Washington DC to Egypt. She discussed with me the harrowing experience of trying to get a required Covid test for travel. With recent federal guidelines, the need for Covid testing has increased, and availability has decreased. As the holidays are a busy travel season, it stands to reason travelers needing testing during the holidays will also surge. Here are a few things to think about regarding Covid testing and the holidays.
A surge in Covid testing
Many of the issues involved with the current availability of Covid testing affect the recent executive order requiring Covid vaccination for federal employees. Companies with over 100 employees will be required to comply with the order or face significant fines. As expected, there are many questions regarding the order and implementation that need an answer. However, the demand for Covid testing has risen, and so travelers need to prepare.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s usually one of the busiest times for people to travel. In 2020, many suggested curtailing travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, and many ignored that suggestion. In preparation for the upcoming busy Thanksgiving travel season, the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act may require all passengers on domestic airlines to either be fully vaccinated, tested negative, or fully recovered from Covid.
Preparing for holiday travel
In essence, travelers should be aware of travel restrictions and Covid guidelines. They should know where their Covid testing sites are. Find out if they need to have Covid symptoms or can test as a precaution. Research the timing of their test before seeing friends and family as exposure varies. It’s also good to know the different Covid test options, PCR or antigen.
As with any travel experience, preparation is critical. Stay safe this holiday season and if you choose to travel, do it safely.
It’s true that not being able to communicate can be frustrating and scary. However, it should never be an excuse for not traveling. There are universal ways of communicating like yes and no, and many other common gestures. There are also plenty of mute, blind, and or deaf people who travel. Not knowing a local language is very similar in that a few key phrases or gestures will help travelers through most situations. Here are a few ideas on travel and the language barrier.
People communicate both verbally and nonverbally. If there’s one universal language that crosses all borders and cultural differences, it’s body language. Often, we don’t realize how much we communicate through facial expressions or gestures. When language is a barrier, the power of body language becomes enhanced. It’s incredible how much miming and pointing will suffice in any language.
Just as body language crosses borders, English is also considered the universal language of travel. Many tourist attractions have signage written in both the local language and English. The chance of traveling to a place where no one speaks English is very slim. However, communicating to locals in their language, no matter how inadequate your language skills, makes you a better world citizen.
It’s incredible how much we can communicate with our facial expressions. Our faces express and provide hints to our thoughts and feelings. Looking confused or worried will most often get you a response of help. A smile is understood universally as being friendly and open. With facial expressions, sometimes no words are needed.
Hello and thank you.
Just these two phrases will suffice despite any language barrier. No matter the destination, learning just these two phrases in the language of your destination will allow you to get by. Although these two words are not enough to carry a conversation, they will indicate respect for the language and people. Respecting the language of your destination will always get you the assistance you need for further communication.
The essential part of communication is giving and receiving information. When language is a barrier, it can be frustrating, stressful, and scary. However, travelers do not have to speak the native language to be understood when traveling to a country with a language barrier. Knowing a local language can enrich your travel experience, but not knowing should never be an excuse for not traveling.
Have you traveled and experienced a language barrier? How did you overcome it? I’d like to know.
Most travelers never stop to think of having their items stolen on board an airplane. I recently took a women’s safety awareness class. The one thing that stood out to me is that most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Although theft on the airplane is rare, it does occur. In most cases, the person never realizes that they were victims until after the flight. Unfortunately, flight crews can do very little if it happens in flight unless the person is caught red-handed. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when traveling to prevent your items from being stolen on the airplane.
Place luggage across from your seat
Many travelers like to place their carry-on luggage directly above their seats. When you are seated on an aisle seat, you can usually see what happens when someone goes into the overhead bin. However, when you are sitting in a middle or window seat, you cannot see your luggage if it is directly overhead. Your items can be stolen right before you without you knowing it has happened. When you place your luggage across from your seat, you will always see it and anyone that handles it.
Lock your carry-on
Travelers assume that they only must secure their checked luggage, and I would advise that you lock and protect your carry-on luggage as well. Remember that overhead bin space is shared space, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to stow your carry-on items at or near your seat. On most crowded flights, especially during holidays, overhead bin space gets full very quickly.
Make your bag easily identifiable
Many bags look alike, and some dishonest travelers take advantage of that fact. If caught, their excuse is that they thought it was their bag. Place something on your bag that makes it easily identifiable, like a brightly colored ribbon, sticker, or bag tag. Anything that differentiates your luggage will discredit the excuse of unintentional handling of your carry-on luggage.
Stow your valuables well
Many people like to have their wallets or purses at hand. Unfortunately, this can be a perfect crime of opportunity for a fellow traveler. Once you are onboard an airplane, there is no need to have your purse or wallet out. Most airlines now are cashless, so having a single credit card accessible is enough for most travelers.
Use common sense
If you go to the restroom, take your purse or wallet. Men tend to remove their wallets or phones from their back pockets and place them in the seatback pocket, and women will leave their purses unattended to go to the restroom. In both these cases, travelers leave the opportunity open to become victims of theft. The person traveling next to you is usually a stranger. You may never see them again in life, and it is not likely to get to know them well while onboard. Even though your seatmate or fellow travelers can be friendly, always remember that they are strangers.
I hope you have never experienced any theft while onboard an airplane. I have seen it happen, and I know it can happen. Be careful and use your common sense. Have you ever given theft on the airplane a thought? As always, your comments are welcome.
There are many packing tips available, but few discuss the right bag for the trip. When it comes to luggage, the choices are plentiful. The type of bag you carry can make a big difference in your travel experience. There are several considerations to make when deciding what kind of bag to carry on a trip. Here are some thoughts that will help ensure you are carrying the right luggage for your trip. How long will your trip be? How are you traveling, plane, train, or by car? How much are you packing?
Many travelers try to travel with as little luggage as possible. With the cost of checked baggage, tips on traveling light are plentiful. But what if your trip is more than a weekend or a week. What considerations should you make? Will you be carrying your luggage for any length of time? How often will you be handling your luggage? How much does your luggage weigh? Suitcases, backpacks, or tote bags are a few choices available.
Suitcases are the easiest option, with a carry-on suitcase being the most go-to option. However, many travelers also use tote bags, backpacks, or even trunks. Most suitcases have wheels, so they are effortless to maneuver through the airport and city. When considering a suitcase, consider its size, features, durability, price, and safety.
Size is essential as you may have trouble lifting or maneuvering your luggage throughout your trip. In addition, airlines have strict baggage dimensions. While you may be allowed one checked bag, you are still subject to fees if that bag is considered oversized. Additionally, with larger baggage, most people tend to overpack.
Suitcases have many different features. Some have either two or four wheels. A suitcase with two wheels can tend to tip over, while one with four wheels usually stays upright and is easier to maneuver. Handles should be adjustable to your height. Picture trying to roll a child suitcase being over 5 feet tall. Another helpful feature is external pockets in the suitcase or baggage. Outside pockets are handy for last-minute additions or when going through security.
When it comes to durability, whether your luggage is waterproof or not will make a difference if your baggage is handled during rain or ends up in a puddle somewhere. In addition, travel can be hard on luggage, and the last thing any traveler wants to experience is to have their luggage fall apart while on a trip.
Luggage should have safety features that include sturdy zippers or a latch system. In addition, travelers should consider durable locks or zip ties. Locks have to be TSA certified, or you will risk having them cut off by TSA. Zip ties are an alternative to locks. While not very secure, you will at least know if someone has been in your luggage.
The price of luggage is a personal decision, and often price reflects the quality. However, designer luggage does not always equate with quality when traveling. While it may be stylish, baggage is almost always damaged, scuffed, or scratched during travel. In addition, designer cases are more susceptible to theft.
I hope you find these tips valuable. Drop me a comment; I’d love to hear your thoughts.