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12 Shocking Secrets From a First Class Emirates Airline Flight Attendant

The strict hair and makeup guidelines that cabin crew members follow are pretty mind blowing.

I’ve always been fascinated by flight attendants. Every time I board a plane, I find myself wondering things like: Do they have to wear their hair and makeup like that—or did they choose to? What’s the strangest thing they’ve ever experienced on a flight? What do they really think of passengers who order one too many cocktails?

But there is nothing more intriguing, at least to me, than the chosen few who work in First Class for Emirates, the glamorous Gulf carrier that charges five figures (and up) for its spacious private “suites.” When passengers expect a level of service that’s on par with a five-star hotel, cabin crew members are required to double as sommeliers, concierges, fine dining experts, and more.

So, what’s it like to be one? I asked Joanna Collins, a UK-born, Dubai-based flight attendant who’s been with the airline for six years (two in economy, two in business, and two in first). She joined Emirates immediately after graduating from the University of Leeds, and says that although it’s rewarding, the job is far more grueling than people think.

Here are the most mind boggling things I learned from Collins about working for the elite section of one of the world’s top airlines.

1. They know a lot about you before you even board the plane.

“We have a briefing and a team talk before each flight, where we’ll review the customers who are traveling with us, including any VIPs. We get their names and have information about them stored in on-board tablets.”

Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted x❤️✈️

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2. They take notes about their guests during the flight.

“We use these on-board tablets to record details about the passengers: their hobbies, their dietary requirements, what they like to drink and eat, where they’re going to or coming from, whether they’ll be tired on their next leg. That information gets saved and passed on to the next crew that serves them.”

3. There’s an “Imaging and Grooming Department” that provides guidelines on nail color, lip color, and eye shadow.

“Emirates likes to keep uniformity. Your nails can be nude, light pink, or you can have a French manicure. We also have different variations of red nail polish that are outlined by the Imaging and Grooming Department. An ‘Emirates red’ lipstick with lip liner is required. We like to use Mac’s Russian Red because it stays for a long time. Eyeshadow can either be black or beige, and liquid eyeliner is recommended.”

4. Hairstyles are even closely regulated.

“We can have a French twist or a bun with a red scrunchie. The red scrunchie is optional. I usually make my bun with one of those ‘hair donuts.'”

emirates cabin crew
COURTESY EMIRATES

5. They take classes on makeup and skincare.

“Some girls know a lot about makeup and hair, and some go for a more natural look. We have classes that teach you how to do your makeup and care for your skin.”

EMIRATES

6. Rules about jewelry are equally as strict.

“We can either wear pearl earrings or studs that are diamond or crystal. Necklaces aren’t allowed. Watches are fine, but they have to be plain and simple.”

emirates flight attendant
COURTESY EMIRATES

7. You can spot the chief flight attendant—also known as the purser—based on his or her uniform.

“Our standard uniform is the skirt and white shirt with a jacket, hat, and scarf. Every crew member dresses the same, except for the purser who wears a brown color.”

8. When a crew member gets promoted from economy to business or first class, the training is rigorous.

“It’s quite a dramatic change, especially when it comes to dining. In economy there’s just one tray; in First Class, we have ‘silver service’ dining, so appetizers, main courses, and desserts are all served at different times, and customers can ‘dine on demand’ whenever they want. We’re taught all the etiquette about cutlery and the different plates used for each course.”

GETTY IMAGES

9. They’re even required to take a wine education course.

“When you’re serving things like Dom Perignon and Bordeaux, you need to have a thorough understanding of what you’re pouring. We need to know the difference between old world and new world wines, as well as champagnes, bourbons, whiskeys, and other spirits.”

10. They change their uniforms after take-off.

“In the airport and during the boarding process we wear heels, but we can change into red flats after take-off. Some girls prefer not to, but I couldn’t be in heels for a 16-hour flight. After take-off we switch to ‘service attire’—we remove the jacket and add a waist coat.”

emirates flight attendant
COURTESY EMIRATES
ADVE

11. They receive bizarre requests—but not as often as you’d think.

“I haven’t had many in my time at Emirates, but I did have a couple ask if they could use a crew cart to rock their baby to sleep. I told her that I would love to help but it unfortunately wouldn’t fit our safety procedures.”

Always a friendly smile x✨❤ @aakuna_matataa

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12. Crew members often work together for a single flight, and then never see each other again.

“There are always fresh faces. Occasionally you’ll go into the briefing room before the flight and recognize someone you flew with one time last year, but not often.”

15 Reasons Why Flying United Airlines Sucks

flying-united-airlinesWhen I decided to move to Sweden, I switched airlines. Normally, I’m a loyal American Airlines traveler and member of the Oneworld alliance. I like American Airlines and their Oneworld partners (except Finnair — that airline sucks!). However, the main airline in Sweden, SAS, is part of the Star Alliance network. Not wanting to lose my elite flier benefits, this year I switched to United Airlines (the main US Star Alliance member) in order to earn elite status. That way, when I flew SAS, I could get lounge access and potential upgrades.

I had never flown with United prior to their merger with Continental. I can’t really say how their service compares to what it used to be, but after 15 flights with them this year, I can say that their current service is absolute shit. I mean, it is so awful that I would rather walk than fly United. Once I get back to America, I plan on switching back to American Airlines, especially since they just decided to join the rest of the world andupgrade their planes. I long for American every time I sit on a United airplane. And the thought of having to fly United for the next few months of the year in order to reach the top-tier service makes me depressed. (Once I hit top tier, I’ll get a status match from American so I can be top tier on their network.)

Let me count the reasons why I think you should never fly United Airlines if you have the choice:

  1. They lose children.
  2. They kick service dogs.
  3. They break guitars.
  4. United is so bad, pilots will still tell you they’re a Continental crew. It’s their not-so-subtle way of telling you they aren’t part of this mess.
  5. United doesn’t respond to customer service requests on Twitter.
  6. When you do call customer service, you get some guy in India who has no idea what you’re talking about. Now, I’m a product of the global age, and I don’t care where a call center is located. Hell, the Mars rover could be answering my customer service request. Doesn’t matter. What I care about is that the customer service representative speaks my language and knows what I’m talking about. It took 20 minutes for the rep to figure out I wanted a round-the-world ticket, not a round-trip ticket. Then, upon telling me that wasn’t his department, he transferred me to someone else who had no idea why I was calling and who also passed me off to another department. And another time when I called for help, the representative just hung up on me.
  7. Their planes are old and ugly. They keep talking about upgrades, but at least American has a date for the arrival of their new planes. United does not.
  8. They have the worst on-time status of all the major airlines.
  9. They lose the most bags.
  10. Their on-board meals are a joke. I understand that economy meals are never good, but when I’m paying $10 USD for something, I’d like it to be at least mildly edible. Their snack boxes are not. At least I can get a sandwich on other airlines. The bad (and free) cheese sandwich I got from Croatia Airlines was better than what you get fed on United.
  11. There are no upgrades, even when you offer money. On my flight to Sweden, business class only had three people in it. I asked if there were any elite upgrades and when they said no, I asked if I could purchase an upgrade, having heard the guy in front of me ask and get an affirmative response. I was told, “No, there’s no space.” That plane flew with a half-empty first class and a mostly empty business class. Way to encourage customer loyalty among your elite fliers, United!
  12. Their in-flight service sucks, and the flight attendants are pretty sour. (My guess? It’s a manifestation of the crappy corporate culture post-merger.)
  13. Have I mentioned their planes are old and outdated?
  14. They have no Wi-Fi.
  15. Their flights cost more than their competitors…but with crappier service!

Words cannot express the dislike I have for United. They make my blood boil. US Airwaysused to be my most hated airline in the States, but now I think United is far worse. At least US Airways is cheap! This video sums out everything I would tell United:

Not a day that goes by that I don’t hear people complain about United. The news is littered with reports of their customer-service problems, and frequent fliers actively try to avoid United. When American Airlines offered to match the elite status of United’s most frequent fliers earlier this year, so many people tried to switch that American stopped the offer early.

One of the reasons I love the Star Alliance is that it is a large airline network with far more members than Oneworld, including Air New Zealand, ANA, and Singapore Airlines — all top-class airlines. But if being a Star Alliance member means I have to fly United when I travel around America…no thanks. I’ll pass.

If you’re looking for an airline, please choose anyone besides United.

How my family of 4 traveled almost for free on Southwest for a year

By the end of this year, my family of four will have traveled to six destinations in the United States, spending no more than $100 per trip on airfare. We’ve kayaked in the ocean off San Diego, we’ll hike the Rocky Mountains, meet up with Mickey at Walt Disney World and Disneyland and frolic on the beach on Marco Island.

And we’ll do it all flying Southwest – and entirely on frequent flyer miles.

Southwest Airlines FLIGHT ATTENDANT LEAVES PASSENGERS STUNNED BY WHAT HE SAID OVER THE SPEAKERS

FlightAttendantSpeechSouthwest Airlines is well known for its lower fares and more relaxed attitude about air travel, and the video below makes it very clear why!

The flight attendant in this clip is both talented and dedicated, and he is bound and determined to give his passengers a bit of entertainment as the board the flight, find their seats and put away their bags.

This musical Southwest flight attendant named David puts on a funny, but quite professional rap version of the usual safety and introductory speech that passengers here on every single airline flight they take.

David’s rap song version covered all of the important information but presented it to passengers in a much more entertaining fashion. He began by asking the passengers on the flight to please clap their hands or stomp their feet to give him a beat to work with. Once a few passengers started up, pretty soon most of the cabin was clapping or stomping along, and David launched into his rap safety / instructional spiel.

The talented flight attendant and rap artist got a hearty and well deserved round of applause at the end of his rap monologue.

Don’t Take a Picture on the Plane Until You Read This Story

Next time you’re tempted to take a snapshot of an interesting cloud formation or your seatmate sprawling into your personal space on a plane, remember Arash Shirazi and Steven Leslie.

Both of them are law-abiding citizens and air travelers. And both recently ran afoul of the airline industry’s confusing photography rules.

With only days before the busy summer travel season unleashes millions of shutterbugs on America’s airports, it’s helpful to know about the airline industry’s little problem with cameras so that your own camera doesn’t become hung up on it.

Don't Take a Picture on the Plane Until You Read This StoryShirazi, a music agent, was recently waiting in the Reagan National terminal for a flight from Washington to Los Angeles when he decided to take a picture of an American Airlines aircraft with his smartphone. He wanted to share it with his friends on social media.

A gate agent saw him snapping photos, stopped Shirazi and “demanded to know why I was taking a picture of airport equipment,” he remembers. “I showed her the picture and offered to delete it, but she became even more combative, accusing me of being a security threat. She made it a point to tell me that she was going to document this security breach in my travel record.”

Shirazi said he apologized, adding that even as a frequent flier he was unaware of any prohibitions against taking photos of planes. “But she was curt and told me to either get on the plane or take the next one,” he recalls.

He’s right. American Airlines doesn’t publish any prohibitions against taking photos of its aircraft. But late last year it updated its internal policies to allow employees at the airport, including ticket counters, gates, cargo, baggage, and onboard, to stop passengers from taking pictures.

“The policy is in place to protect employees and customers,” says Andrea Huguely, an American Airlines spokeswoman.

Steven Leslie faced a similar reaction from an airline employee when he started filming a passenger boarding a JetBlue flight. Leslie, a soft-spoken pharmacist flying from Albuquerque to New York, noticed a family with a sick child. The crew looked worried about the boy’s health. His family said he had cancer and had been medically cleared to fly.

The incident occurred only a few days after another cancer patient was expelled from an Alaska Airlines flight under similar circumstances, and Leslie decided to tape the conversation on his phone.

“It was my original intent to record this uncomfortable situation because I felt it was wrong,” he says.

Apparently, JetBlue felt something was wrong, too. After the family was removed from the aircraft, an airline employee ordered that Leslie delete the video. He politely refused, and then he, too, was escorted from the aircraft.

The reason? A crew member told him he didn’t “feel safe” being recorded.

JetBlue rebooked Leslie on the next flight, which departed nine hours later. After I covered the incident on my consumer advocacy blog and a New Mexico TV station aired a report about Leslie’s expulsion, the airline reviewed the incident and admitted to Leslie that the crew member’s request to delete the recording fell into a “gray area.” It apologized, offered him a flight credit and covered some of his expenses associated with spending an extra night in Albuquerque.

It turns out JetBlue doesn’t have a published photography policy, either. “Our crew members use their professional judgment in evaluating the appropriate use of photography or videography onboard, especially when it involves the privacy of other customers and the safe and secure operations of the airline,” says Morgan Johnston, an airline spokesman.

If these incidents prove anything, it’s that airlines can be a little camera-shy. That’s not new. When pressed, most airlines say that their policies allow cameras to be used onboard to record a “personal” event, but that snapshots of the crew, other passengers or any security procedure are off-limits.

But what’s unusual is the number of photography cases that have crossed my desk recently, thanks to the loosening of restrictions on in-flight electronics. They’re amplified by a larger debate about police misconduct and body cameras happening beyond travel. If I had to make an educated guess, I’d predict more confrontations between crew members and passengers with cameras in the future.

Can airlines stop you from taking photos? Yes, if you’re on a plane, says Daniel Greenberg, an attorney who specializes in photography rights issues.

“You can’t prohibit photography in public,” he says. “But the prohibition of photography on private property is legitimate. That decision is up to the property owner. If you don’t want to follow the carrier’s rules, don’t get on the carrier’s plane.”

For summer air travelers, it’s perhaps best to view photography on planes as you would taking pictures in France, a country known for its restrictive public photography laws. At least that’s how Nancy Nally, a frequent flier and photographer, thinks of it.

“I’m very careful about the circumstances I photograph in onboard,” she explains. “I am very clear about not pointing the camera at anyone but myself or inanimate objects. I don’t photograph with flight attendants nearby. I have gotten very good at not drawing attention to myself because I know that my travel schedule is subject to the whims of the flight attendants.”

Jeffrey Loop, an attorney and photographer, agrees that keeping a low profile is the best way to avoid a photography-related entanglement. “If you are taking photos on the aircraft and are asked to stop, don’t argue or take offense,” he adds. “Just stop and save yourself a heap of potential trouble. Arguing with cabin crew about your perceived rights will almost always be a losing proposition.”

Why are airlines so photo-sensitive? Part of the reason is surely publicity; they don’t want to end up in a viral video. Another part is security, which Shirazi’s incident only hints at.

Either way, it means that on your next flight, you’ll need to watch where you point that lens.

After you’ve left a comment here, let’s continue the discussion on my consumer advocacy site or on Twitter, Facebook and Google. I also have a newsletter and you’ll definitely want to order my new, amazingly helpful and subversive book called How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle). Photo: Shutterstock.

 

10 mistakes you’re making at the airport

By Deb Hopewell

From the baggage drop to the security line to the boarding gate, just getting through the airport these days can throw pitfalls at you that you never saw coming. Even if you sail through the lines, there are other things you can do to make the wisest use of your time — and money — at the airport. Here are 10 typical airport mistakes you may be making, as well as my expert tips on making it out of the airport, and onto your plane, with as little hassle as possible.

1. Not downloading your airline/airport app

Using your carrier’s app is important not just at the airport, but before you get there, too. Most carriers have apps you can download on your smartphone that will alert you if your flight is delayed or canceled, even before you leave for the airport. Once there, the information on the app is often more up-to-date than the arrival/departure screens in the terminal. More and more airports have developed apps that help travelers navigate the terminals with maps, lists of services, etc. One particularly useful app is GateGuru, which covers more than 200 airports and, among other features, allows users to rate shops and restaurants as well as offer insider tips — a Yelp for airports.

2. Not checking in online

I was flabbergasted recently at the line snaking up to the ticket counter — just to check in. (And there were even check-in kiosks!) Unless you have some kind of problem that can’t be resolved ahead of time, there’s no good reason for not checking in online. Just have the ticket sent to your phone (via text or email link), and if you don’t have any luggage to check, you can skip the counter and head straight to the security line. (If you have luggage you’ll need to drop it off, but if you’ve checked in beforehand, this goes quickly.) Also, some airlines only let you choose a seat when you check in; if you’re flying one of these, you’ll want to check in and choose your seat as soon as possible within the check-in time (usually 24 hours).

 3. Not having TSA PreCheck

If you fly more than just a few times a year, you’ll want to apply for TSA PreCheck. It’s very rare that the PreCheck lines are anywhere as long as the regular lines.  And because you don’t remove your shoes, laptop and liquids, the lines move much quicker AND you’re not likely to leave something behind in the bin as you scramble to get things back into your carryon. You’ll need to fill out the application and pay a $85 non-refundable fee, then schedule an appointment at one of the more than 380 enrollment centers. That may sound like a lot of work (not to mention the money), but it’s good for five years and worth its price in saved time and aggravation.

4. Not bringing food with you

It’s no secret that airport food, whether from a grab-and-go vendor or a sit-down restaurant, comes with a hefty price tag — and the only value-add is convenience, usually not quality. And that’s not the only reason to pack a snack in your carry-on luggage: If you get held up in the TSA line and get squeezed for time, a sandwich, chips, cookies and fruit in your carry-on can save the day. Most food is allowed, except for liquids like salad dressings, soups, yogurt, etc. If in doubt, check the TSA’s website for prohibited food items.

5. Wearing the wrong clothing

I don’t just dress for comfort on the plane, I strategically dress to get through the line faster too. Even if you have TSA PreCheck, there will be times when those lines are closed and you end up in the regular lines, unpacking your laptop, taking off your shoes and belt, and digging out the liquids. It pays to play it safe if at all possible. That means eliminating anything that could set off alarms when going through the body scanner, like chunky jewelry or a belt. Keep your footwear simple, too, with shoes that are quick and easy to get on and off (and don’t forget socks!).

6. Not taking advantage of courtesy checked bag at the gate

If you’re a travel warrior who never checks a bag, this isn’t for you. But if you have to check a bag (i.e. you’ll need to go to baggage claim anyway), you can often check your carry-on at the gate for no extra charge. I’ve run across this numerous times, especially on domestic flights that are full and when overhead space is at a premium.  Usually the gate agent will make an announcement asking for volunteers to check their carry-ons, but I’ve asked and been given the OK. I just make sure the things I need on the plane can fit in a bag under my seat, and I have one less bag to carry around — particularly helpful if you have a connecting flight and don’t want to lug it around the airport.

7. Not playing nice

It’s not a matter of if, only when: You’re going to need someone’s help. It could be a problem of your own making, or the airline’s, or a force majeure, but it almost never pays to be angry, indignant or whiny. Patience and a smile go a long way when it comes to increasingly harried gate and flight attendants, TSA agents and even your fellow travelers. I’ve seen overweight bags given a pass (no punitive fee), seats changed and special favors accommodated clearly because someone asked nicely. And even if you don’t end up getting what you want (or need), you know you went about it the best way possible.

8. Not buying a pass to the airport lounge

If you’re not an elite flyer, or aren’t enrolled in a credit card that offers this perk, the world of airport lounges can seem like a pricey, exotic indulgence. But there are occasions — most notably if you have a long international layover — that it’s worth buying a day pass to your carrier’s airport lounge. Not long ago I had a seven-hour layover in San Salvador, and I happily coughed up the $25 fee just to have a quiet place to rest. It also included free Wi-Fi, surprisingly good food and a generous array of beverages, including liquor. Most U.S. airlines charge $50-$60 for a day pass, which is a good chunk of change. But not paying food and drinks offsets a good part of that.

9. Sending personal information over the airport Wi-Fi

Thankfully, more airports are acknowledging that free Wi-Fi isn’t just a convenience for travelers, it’s a necessity. And that’s a good thing! But never forget that “free” doesn’t mean “safe”: Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t secure, so whatever you do, don’t type in personal information — passwords, IDs, etc. — or you could return from your trip only to find your Facebook has been hacked and your bank account drained.

10. Not marking your luggage

You’ve been there, done that, and now you’re almost home. All that’s left is to grab your luggage from baggage claim. And one by one here they come, an endless stream of suitcases that look more or less the same. Save yourself the hassle of looking at each bag as is it goes by marking yours with a brightly colored tag (mine’s bright orange). Not only will it have your contact info  — gasp — your luggage go missing, but if all goes as planned you’ll be able to spot yours in a quick second and on your way you’ll go.

Flight attendants reveal 9 ‘behind the scenes’ secrets – which most passengers don’t know about

Flying has never been easier – but make sure you pay attention to these lot before you take your next flight

Beautiful-young-flight-attendant-standing-at-the-aircraft-door

Once upon a time, jetting off on an airplane used to be the preserve of the super-wealthy.

Nowadays, thanks to relatively recent rise of budget airlines, increasingly competitive airfares and more flight paths, experiencing an overseas holiday has never been easier.

As a result, many of us probably think we know exactly what to do at check-in , as well as what to expect at 35,000 feet.

But as with any work environment, there’s a lot more going on behind the sceneswhich we don’t know about.

Flight attendants and airline employees shared some fascinating insights on Quora , revealing plenty of things most airline passengers are unaware of.

A mixture of the gross and the enlightening, they’ll (hopefully) change the way you fly. At the very least, you’ll certainly think twice before putting on a pair of headphones.

1. Music to the ear

Watching a film, listening to some music or simply drowning out the noise around you may seem like a great way of passing the time, but maybe ask for some new headphones before you tune out.

GettyWoman listening to music on a plane
Those headphones may not be that ‘boxfresh’

Apparently, many “airlines who provide headphones hardly or even NEVER bother to replace the foamy-like ear parts.

“So please ALWAYS tear them once you use them just to make sure that they will replace them.”

And the same applies to any pillows or blankets you’ve been handed for the flight. Ask for a new set if you can.

2. Working hours

“We are not paid during boarding or until the door to the aircraft is shut. This means it’s mandatory to show up to work about two hours early but not be paid for it.”

3. Thirsty?

Another flight attendant pitied anyone having a water-based drink.

GettyWater on a plane
Two words: ‘Galley Springs’

“The water from the plane is disgusting. I feel truly sorry for our coffee and hot water drinkers. That water is in a tank under the plane and I’ve never seen that tank be cleaned out.”

Another one even revealed the plane water was referred to as “Galley Springs”.

Delightful.

4. Toilet break

No one likes the toilets on planes. The constricted space, the unflattering lighting. But even flight attendants avoid them if possible.

One fight attendant admitted, “To be honest I only use the lavatories on the airplane if I need to wash my hands or if I absolutely have to go to the bathroom.

GettyCabin lavatory/toilet in modern airplane
Cabin toilet in modern airplane

“If it’s a short flight and I can leave the plane, I’m definitely waiting until I can use the bathroom in the airport.”

And Kelly Goodnuff added, “[…] Just how dirty the floor is. We think it’s disgusting when you do not wear shoes in to the toilet.”

5. Kindness pays

Being a good Samaritan and swapping seats can result in some VIP treatment according to Fatihah Sudewo.

“If you’re one of those who have a big heart in giving up your seat for whatever reason without making a scene, we treat you ‘special’.

“We would give you two bread rolls instead of one, a whole can of soda instead of rationing it, basically we would compensate you for your kindness.”

No mention of an upgrade to first class though.

6. DON’T ask us to help in the following scenarios

An anonymous user revealed the following: “We have to be diplomatic in situations to avoid discrimination lawsuits.

“For example, that man that’s overweight and spilling into your seat on a full flight? I can’t tell him to suck in his gut or ask a thin person to switch with you.

GettyA close up of an overweight man's stomach on a plane
A flight attendant needs to be careful with what they say

“However, you can, because the worst that can happen is you’ll get a no and maybe a glare.

“If I do, I am risking a possible lawsuit against my airline or at worst, my job.

“With the age of social media, a lot of things get twisted. I never want to be the flight attendant that ‘harassed a mother and her crying baby’ or ‘not let allow a man with a medical condition sleep’ because he snores.

7. Perk of the job

Fatehah also admitted, “Our meals are slightly better than the passenger meals, and even though it depends on the airlines, we also get fresh fruits – like whole fruits and not the cut ones, pickles, bread rolls, desserts, beverages.

“Basically we have at least a trolley dedicated for the crews.”

Can we have some?

GettyPlane food tray
A flight attendant’s meal may be a lot better than yours

8. Getting tipsy

That free booze on the trolley? Go easy on it. According to more than one flight attendant, many passengers don’t realize how much more drunk they get at 35,000 feet, owing to the altitude.

And if you’re getting noticeably drunk or out-of-hand, the flight attendant is responsible for managing the situation.

GettyDrunk on a plane
It could be down to the altitude

“Sometimes if we think you’ve had too much to drink, we’ll serve you, but not serve the whole mini-bottle of booze,” confesses one user named Ellen. ”

“We may just dip the rim of the glass in enough vodka or gin and fill the rest with mixer.”

9. Missing a flight attendant?

Another anonymous user also explained an important point as follows.

“If your boarding is delayed because they are missing a flight attendant and you see a flight attendant rushing on to the plane, that flight attendant is most likely not the flight attendant that caused the delay.

“At airports we have standby flight attendants (one or two at a time) who are dressed in uniform, bags packed and ready to go if a flight needs them or reserve flight attendants who get short notice to cover a trip when another co-worker cannot make it.”

Revealed, the secret travel tips that airlines don’t want you to know

  • Experts offer little-known tips and tricks to ensure successful travel
  • Consider controversial ‘hidden city’ ticketing to secure a cheaper fare
  • Make sure you fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays 
  • Delays of more than three hours could result in a payout from airlines

Whether you’ve experienced that last-minute, several-hour flight delay or the unfortunate experience of an airline losing your baggage, almost all frequent flyers can tell their fair share of holiday horror stories.

 

But, as it turns out, there are ways to ensure that your air travel experience is as seamless as can be expected… despite what the airlines want you to think.

We’ve talked to the experts to ascertain the most important money and time saving hacks to get you flying like a pro. 

Scroll down for video 

Air travel horror stories are common, but there are several little-known time and money-saving tips to help

Try 'hidden city' ticketing: buying a cheaper airline ticket for a flight that has a layover at your destination 


1. Consider ‘hidden city’ ticketing for serious savings

This is the idea of buying a cheaper airline ticket for a flight to anywhere that has a layover at your actual destination.

It’s clearly a controversial travel trick, however. When a New York City man developed a website, Skiplagged.com, last year, which helped travellers find cheaper flights through this style of ticketing, both United Airlines and Orbitz filed a civil lawsuit.

It’s also important to note that this strategy only works if you book a one-way flight, have no checked bags, and happen to be heading to a destination that is not a regional airline hub.

The idea involves booking a flight with a stop-off and not taking the second leg of the journey. For example, if you want to fly from Miami to New York, it could be cheaper to book a flight to Toronto with a change in New York, then just abandon the second part of the journey. The same applies around the world.

Flight schedule changed at the last minute without warning? It turns out that full refunds may be possible

2. Full refunds on flights are possible to redeem

Have you ever booked a flight months in advance, only to have your flight schedule changed just weeks ahead of your trip?

As it turns out, when an airline does that, most are obligated to re-book customers on new flights without any additional fees – and if they newly proposed travel times aren’t acceptable, travellers just may be eligible for a full refund.

Keep in mind, however, that you will likely wind up paying more anyway since fares tend to go up closer to departure meaning that your full refund may not cover the cost of a replacement flight.

In the US, it's been ruled that there may not be 'arbitrary limits' placed on compensation for lost checked bags

3. Compensation owed on delayed bags may be greater than you think

In the United States, the Department of Transportation issued a directive to all airlines stating that in the event of lost checked bags – and also delayed bags – that there cannot be ‘arbitrary limits’ placed on monetary compensation.

Essentially, this means that while often airlines offer very little in compensation (if any) for delayed bags, or simply hand out a future travel voucher or frequent flyer miles, the maximum liability that you can claimed may actually be as high as $3,300.

However, this particular number does only apply for domestic US travel and the limits on international travel are often less.

Want some space to stretch out and relax? Book a flight on days when airlines have more seats available

4. Flight delays could offer a major payout

It’s not just American passengers who benefit from compensation. In the EU, you are entitled to a pay-out if your flight is delayed by more than three hours on arrival – if it was the airline’s fault.

On a short flight, the amount payable is €250 (about £200) per person; on a mid-length flight, it’s €400pp (around £320); and on a long-haul flight, it’s between €300 and €600pp (about £240 to £480), depending on the length of the delay.

And don’t feel obligated to accept vouchers, you’re entitled to the cash, according to EC Regulation 261/2004.

These rules apply to all flights made from airports in the EU irrespective of the airline, and flights made to EU airports on EU airlines. The rules also cover flights from/to Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, even though these countries aren’t in the EU. 

But if the disruption was outside of the airline’s control, such as bad weather, air traffic control problems or staff strikes, it doesn’t have to pay out.

If airlines cannot get you to your destination in a timely manner, they may owe you the fare - and then some!

The U.S. Department of Transportation has a similar rule. If the airline gets you to your destination late – between one and two hours of your scheduled arrival on a domestic flight or between one and four hours on an international trip – you may be owed a compensation of 200 per cent of the one-way fare to your destination.

If the airline can’t meet those time requirements, it owes you 400 per cent of the fare – which could be as high as $1,300.

And if your carrier opts to book you an alternate route on a different airline, the original must still cover all expenses and extras that the new airline may levy.

5. Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays

Recent research from Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) has found that it’s best to buy tickets on a Tuesday – and ideally, more than 21 days in advance – to take advantage of the best possible rates.

But that doesn’t mean those are the best days to take to the skies, according to USA Today‘s Rick Seaney.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays tend to be the days when airlines have a greater surplus of seats available – likely because they are the least convenient days when it comes to accommodating work schedules and weekend getaways – and so, offer the cheapest fares.

In the United States, after three hours of Tarmac delays, you can disembark the plane

6. After three hours of Tarmac delays, you CAN get off the plane

At least in the United States! The Department of Transport mandates that during a lengthy Tarmac delay in the U.S. (arrival or departure), an airline cannot keep passengers on a plane for more than three hours on a domestic flight or four hours on an international flight without allowing you to disembark.

After two-hour delays, airlines also must provide you with food and water, provide regular 30-minute updates. So even if you are just connecting through the US, this applies to you.

In the UK or the EU, however, no equivalent rule exists. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, while there is not a specific length of time that airlines can keep passengers on a parked aircraft during a delay, it is expected that ‘all operators abide by the regulations that are in place regarding delayed flights and ensure a suitable level of welfare is maintained.’

And all of this, of course, is subject to security and safety considerations.

Take advantage of the fact that some websites allow you to switch the date of your flight without paying more

7. Save hundreds by ‘booking the wrong date’

‘EasyJet’s Flexifares let you switch the date of your flight by a few weeks, without paying more, Steve Nowottny, consumer and features editor at MoneySavingExpert explains.

‘This offers a sneaky way for you to bag peak-time flights for less.

‘For example, you can buy cheap flights during in-term time, then swap for your chosen school holiday date.

Of course, it’s not fool proof – and you’ll need to be careful that the dates will line up correctly to such a plan – but Nowottny insists that some travellers have saved serious amounts using this little-known trick.

Experts also recommend checking out 'code-sharing' to find cheaper bookings between two partner airlines

8. Code-share and always check for cheap seats

There are plenty of ways to ensure the cheapest possible fare on the flight of your dreams.

‘Sometimes, two or more airlines sell the same flights and booking via one partner is cheaper,’ Nowottny tells MailOnline Travel.

‘For example, a United flight from Birmingham to New York can be cheaper via Lufthansa. This can be a good way of flying with well-known airlines for less.’

The MoneySavingExpert editor also recommends checking how many cheap seats are left on a flight if you’re thinking of booking, but not quite ready to commit just yet.

‘Many airlines let you book seats for up to about nine passengers, so pretend to make the booking for more seats than you need,’ he says.

‘If the cheap fare’s still available for nine seats, then you’ve got breathing space. If the fare shoots up after three, four or five seats, you’ll need to grab it as soon as possible.’

It's also recommended to use a credit card for your booking whenever possible and to keep all documents

Although plenty of airlines offer incentive for completing a booking on your debit card, it may be wise to pay via credit card instead.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket advises always paying at least £100 of your travel purchase by credit card to give you financial protection in the event of anything going wrong.

If that’s not possible, using a debit card is still preferable to paying with cash, cheque or bank transfer.

10. Keep all tickets, receipts and any other documentation 

To make any sort of successful claim, you’ll need to have kept all travel receipts, tickets and any other relevant documents.

Atkinson also recommends writing your experience down while it’s still fresh in your mind.

‘Jot down as many details as possible at the time of your delay so you don’t forget any key facts,’ he tells MailOnline Travel.

Former flight attendant: Not only do pilots hook up with the attendants but also passengers frequently

Last week, we received a huge response from readers when we posed the question of whether or not pilots hop in bed with flight attendants regularly while flying together. My friend, Pilot Mike said he’d never really witnessed it, but many of you replied and said otherwise. Let’s look at some of your responses.

Yes, they do hook up:

Abacaxi: As a former flight attendant who recently resigned: Yes, they do hook up with flight attendants frequently. I can’t believe he said he has never seen it. Not only do pilots hook up with the attendants but also passengers they meet on the flights, random women at bars hotels etc. Same goes for flight attendants, quite a lot of whom have multiple guys they see in different places. We were warned in training how often this happens and that in smaller companies, assume everyone will know about it. Its a stressful lifestyle and a lonely one, prone to a lot of drinking on layovers. Also, it seemed like most of the pilots who were married- were actively cheating or trying to cheat on their wives. I learned that one airline, the pilots wives came together to pressure the company into booking different hotels for Attendants and pilots to avoid this.

MisterHippity: My brother is an airline captain and I spent a lot of time hanging out with professional pilots, and this has been been my impression. I shared an apartment with him and partied with his pilot buddies, and I can testify that these guys and flight attendants hook up all the time. As a general rule, they all liked to drink and have sex, a lot.

astrongcupofjoel: An ex got a job as a flight attendant for Delta about two years back. Said pilots and flight attendants were hitting on each other pretty openly. Most of the people she worked with were pretty old and we thought it kinda funny that so many of them partied so hard and sexed it up so much. Once while on the phone after one of her flights, I overheard her saying goodbye to the other attendants and pilots and one of the pilots told her to come to his room later for a drink. Sounded pretty out in the open to me…

VTECkickedinBRO: I’m betting the male/male flight attendant/pilot hookups happen waaaaaaaaaay more than the male/female hookups do.

kingcaii: I had a co-worker who became a good friend of mine. Her (now ex-) husband was a commercial pilot for a major company. She came to find out that he cheated on her, many times, with one of the flight attendants that flew with him. It was like a fictional story— when he and the FA in question landed anywhere except their home port of SeaTac, WA, they acted like they were a couple. Even in the airport. One of my co-worker’s friends happened to be at one of those other airports and informed her. So…. yeah, it happens.

Jesus Diaz: There’s plenty of pilots and flight attendants hooking up for both long term relationships and one-night stands in Iberia airlines. I’m told (by pilots) it’s the same for any other airline in Europe. There are also cases of pilots having double lives and two families (in Spain and in Miami or Cuba or some South American country) back in the days when the flight crews had to stay at their destinations for a few days. Neither family knew about each other.

toecutter: My mom worked housekeeping at an airport motel. A lot of pilots and flight attendants stayed there. She said it was like a Roman orgy.

J-box25: I worked as a driver for a Hilton hotel for a few years and let me tell u they definitely hook up lol. We would pick up the flight crews and bring them to the hotel. They are like kids on a school bus once the plane lands.

Flight attendants from various airlines at the Boeing 737 dedication. [Getty]

You said they also hook up with other strangers:

sorbo1980: They don’t hook up with the crew; they hook up with the hotel staff (usually a bartender or waiter) where they’re staying. Also, tends to happen with airlines with younger staffs. I write from experience.

TheTroof: You should have asked how often they have random hook-ups and one night stands during their overnight stays in different cities. If you live near a big airport, just troll the nearby hotel lobby bars, or local watering holes, and trust me…you’ve got a pretty good chance of banging a flight attendant that night LOL. 😉

TaterNutsAnon: In university I was in a crappy bar one night with a friend. Next table over was 4 flight attendants and a pilot. All in their uniforms and getting very drunk. We ended up joining our tables together and getting absolutely wrecked. I was looking to head back to the hotel with 1 (or 2! [Ahhh, youth]) of the ladies when the pilot suggested, why don’t we move this back to the hotel, I got upgraded to a room with a king bed and a Jacuzzi. The girls seemed interested, but it was just too weird for me. My buddy went with them, and passed out in the cab on the way to their hotel. They left him in the cab.

Reborn Pyrrhic: From personal experience I find that most of the hooking up by the flight crews is done with strangers over Craigslist.

TSZ2788: So some of these people are practically like pirates. Where every port they went to they had a girl to f**k with.

They may hook up, but it’s a bad idea:

Tony: Because you have to work with that person again. And it’s awkward if everyone knows you did the nasty and is trying not to comment on it and you’re trying to pretend that nothing happened. Just because it’s an office at 35,000 feet doesn’t mean it’s not an office!

gla2yyz: In my experience flying as a passenger on US regional carriers, hooking up with a member of the cabin crew wouldn’t be something to brag about. I’m sure they’re all lovely people who most definitely work in very challenging conditions but the photo above isn’t EXACTLY representative of who will be serving you pretzels and a thimble of Sprite on your typical Colgan or Comair flight.

Diesel: I saw a documentary about a pilot hooking up with his stewardess. It didn’t end well for either of them.

By the time most flight crews are done for the day, they’re too tired to have much fun. [pic by Sebastian Oliva on Flickr / Creative Commons commercial license]

These people are full of it:

LeeTunnell: As a pilot for one of the largest US airlines (probably the most hated too) Here is my version..Maybe I’m jaded from the years….Hookups…Ha Have you seem most crews walking around? That would make for the worst porn movie in the world. Here is what it would happen. Old pilot tells tales of his flying stories or high school football days “Glory Days” and flight attendant shows pictures of her cats. Then they fall asleep at 7 pm. I guess between our cat loving grandmas in the back and the grumpy old farts up front I don’t think much is happening but hey you never know throw a long layover in there with some booze.

colorfulyawn: Maybe I’m naive, but I expect flight attendants and pilots to behave in a professional and respectful manner toward each other, and would be surprised if the salacious cliches were true about them “hooking up” with each other.

figbash > colorfulyawn: You’re not really that naive. Most pilots and flight attendants are too damn tired when they reach their destinations to do any major hooking up, and even if they had the energy, they usually don’t want to hook up with the people they work with. They want sleep, not a roll in the hay.

Thanks to everyone who responded with anecdotes, either first-hand of from acquaintances. As you can see, there’s not a general rule here — but the lifestyle makes it possible to have frequent non-committal encounters, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

Day In The Life: What It’s Like To Be A Female Pilot At 40,000 Feet

Michelle Knoll likes to think her “office” has the best view in the world.

From her window, she sees the ruins of Rome, or some days, the Northern Lights.

Knoll, 44, is a corporate pilot and her Fortune 500 company’s first female captain. For six years, she has privately flown the company’s executives domestically and internationally to hours- or days-long business meetings.

It takes a certain kind of personality to do Knoll’s job. She has a thick skin (as a woman in a male-dominated industry) and she loves the novelty of constant travel: “The way I’m made, I really crave for things to be different. I like the unfamiliarity. I adapt well to change.”

Here’s is a snapshot of a recent day in the sky:

cockpit

Prep Time

In preparation for a 10:00 a.m. flight from New York to Charleston, S.C. and a four-day trip, Knoll spends the evening before in her Jersey City, N.J. apartment, packing her suitcase and work materials (including her flight crew credentials and her pilot and medical licenses) and reviewing her flight and fuel plan and route options.

Being a pilot is a “24-hour-a-day job,” says Knoll, so sleep is important — getting eight hours per night helps her body adjust to time changes and long periods of sitting.

G550

Off To Work

Knoll wakes up to her iPhone alarm at 5 a.m. and gets into her typical gray suit and Brooks Brothers white collared shirt (just like the guys she works with). To compensate for a rather sedentary job, she eats light: breakfast is fruit and granola.

It’s New York and there’s always traffic, so Knoll pulls out of her driveway at 6:30 a.m. to arrive at the company’s hangar by 8:00. She spends two hours “pre-flighting” the aircraft (which includes testing equipment and reviewing maintenance performed) alongside her second pilot and one flight attendant and the dispatch, line and maintenance crews. She personally welcomes her passengers (usually anywhere from one to 12 businesspeople), briefing them on the weather, time en route and expected turbulence.

display

Up In The Air

During climb and descent, to and from 10,000 feet, Knoll and the other pilot observe “sterile cockpit,” when all conversation is flight-related. During cruise (usually above 40,000 feet), the plane is set to autopilot, allowing for personal interaction.

“You get to know people very well when you sit with them in the cockpit for hours and hours on end,” Knoll says. “You become sort of a family.”

Knoll’s co-pilots are usually male — currently just three of 16 pilots in Knoll’s company are female. Overall, only 6% of commercial pilots are women.

In fact, people “all the time” assume Knoll is the flight attendant, particularly when traveling into countries less accustomed to seeing a women in such a role. One time, an on-site crew repeatedly directed all questions to Knoll’s male co-pilot, despite the fact that her co-pilot repeatedly deferred, saying, “She’s the captain. She’s the captain,” Knoll recalls.

But women make great pilots, according to Knoll, because women are natural multitaskers. And encouragingly, more scholarships and flight-instruction internships are being offered by groups like Women in Aviation, opening up the field to a wider group of women.

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