S*x, fights and mid-air surgery: the real life of a Virgin Atlantic air stewardess

Suturing up a stomach wound and witnessing a celebrity passenger cheat on his girlfriend are just some of the gory details laid bare in a new tell-all book by a Virgin Atlantic flight attendant.

Mandy Smith has lifted the lid on her 10-year stint as a Virgin Atlantic crew member in the racily-named Cabin Fever: The sizzling secrets of a Virgin air hostess.

Smith saw it all as she travelled the world serving up tea, coffee and safety instructions. Her story offers up some fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits on what life as a flight attendant is really like.

As you might expect, the Mile High club features strongly – with some passengers unable to resist the time-honoured thrill of sex at altitude.

“The official stance was that if we saw anyone being amorous, we would tell them to stop it,” Smith explained, in an interview with ITV’s This Morning. “It’s not really encouraged… We would be knocking on the door saying, ‘Can you come out please?'”

Mandy Smith in her days as a Virgin flight attendant

Smith’s book reveals one instance when an A-List celebrity (whom she doesn’t name) cheated on his girlfriend with an air hostess mid-flight on the way to Antigua – with his girlfriend sitting nearby. The crew member hadn’t realised he had a girlfriend and was mortified when she found out.

But affairs are apparently par for the course when it comes to flying.

“One businessman was travelling in Upper Class and getting it on at the bar with a fellow female passenger. They’d had a few drinks and had a few snogs,” Smith recalled, in an interview with the Daily Mail. “Literally five minutes later his wife walked through to see him. She’d been sitting back in Economy with no idea what was going on! We were shocked.”

Then there was the time when one of Smith colleagues “was caught giving oral sex to a steward”.

“She was sacked on the spot, they take that very seriously…,” Smith said. “The Virgin crew are professional and diligent and I wanted to make sure that came across.”

Mandy with her tell-all book

When it wasn’t sex causing a stir, it was mid-flight fights and air rage – such as pizza-throwers and head-butters.

“The passengers behaved far worse, especially in Premium Economy because they think they’re better than Economy, but actually can’t afford Upper,” Smith said.

“I had a man throw pizza in my face once because he said it wasn’t good enough for his son to eat… [another passenger] head-butted my colleague who was merely trying to restrain her outburst, and her nose burst open and I don’t even think she ever apologised. We have to put up with a lot.”

Mandy appearing on ITV’s This Morning

Dealing with mid-air emergencies was another key part of Smith’s job. One time she had to help stitch up a man whose stomach wound had ruptured “with butterfly stitches”, while on another occasion, she comforted a woman who had just miscarried in the airplane toilet.

“I gathered plastic aprons, surgical gloves, face masks and cloths from our first-aid supplies in the galley and returned to the scene with more crew to help,” she recalled. “We have to be calm and helpful in all situations, nothing can faze us. No matter how upsetting, we are there to help.”

The book that says it all

Of course, there is a glamorous side to being a flight attendant and Smith describes being treated “like royalty” as she and her crew attended raucous and debauched parties everywhere from Las Vegas to St Lucia and Cape Town.

She writes about skinny dipping en-masse in St Lucia and a hell-raising stag do the Virgin crew went to in the City of Sin.

“The boyfriend of one of the crew members was on the stag do of a Calvin Klein model,” she says.

“Afterwards we all went back to their hotel suite which was massive. People were getting it on all over the place and drugs were lined up on the tables, though of course we didn’t touch them because Virgin do random drug tests.”

Smith worked in the engineering department at Virgin Atlantic before becoming an air stewardess. She has now retired from the profession to live in West Sussex with husband Glenn and their 19-month-old baby.

Her book Cabin Fever: The sizzling secrets of a Virgin air hostess by Mandy Smith and Nicola Stow, £9.99, is available now.

Top 10 most common mistakes made by Air Travellers

EDMONTON — Whether it’s booking a flight to the wrong airport or showing up to the airport on the wrong day, travel mistakes are more common than some might think.

“One of the most budget-busting, stress-inducing experiences in travel is making a mistake with your booking and not realizing it until it’s too late,” said Neil Bhapkar, chief marketing officer at Flight Network.

“Booking mistakes can really ruin a trip – or even worse, prevent one from happening.”

In hopes of educating people on important travel factors, travel experts at FlightNetwork.com recently analysed more than 40,000 flight bookings to find out the most common mistakes travellers make when booking flights.

Not checking passport expiry dates

The number one mistake was forgetting to check passport expiry dates. Travel experts say this is one of the first things people should do before planning a holiday. If the expiration date has passed, you will be denied boarding, which could lead to costly changes or even travel cancellations.

Most passports expire every five years, although recent changes now allow for passports with a 10-year validation period. And be careful, some countries require you to have a passport validity of up to six months from the last leg of your itinerary.

Entering incorrect names

Entering incorrect names into online booking sites was a close second in the research. Experts say often times people will book tickets with their common names, rather than legal names. By making a booking with anything other than your legal name, there’s a good chance you’ll have difficulty checking in at the airport.

Not checking required travel documents

Passports aren’t the only thing people should check before making travel plans. If you don’t have proper documentation you’ll likely be denied boarding at the airport. Some travel Visas take months to receive, so experts recommend checking with the destination country to find out what documents are required. Remember to check with the consulate general of any transiting countries, as well.

Not checking airline baggage fees

It’s becoming common practice for airlines to charge baggage fees, even on the first piece of checked luggage. And depending on how much luggage you’re bringing, the fees for checking bags and overweight luggage can be costly. Experts recommend checking the fees in advance and packing smart. And remember the journey home, too, as you might be inclined to buy a few souvenirs, right?

READ MORE: Here’s how much WestJet, Air Canada will rake in from baggage fees

Showing up to the airport at the wrong time/date

When it comes to travelling almost nothing is worse than missing your flight, and this means you’ll have to fork over the money for a pricey last-minute ticket or head home disappointed. Experts recommend making sure you have the a.m./p.m. and 24-hour clock down pat. And remember, for many international flights, companies require travellers to be at the airport three hours prior to departure.

Entering the wrong credit card expiry date

It may not sound like a big deal, but if your credit card expiration date is incorrectly entered, the transaction will not go through and you run the risk of losing your booking. Those seats are then released and could quickly get snapped up by another traveller. Double check all information before clicking “purchase,” experts say.

Booking the wrong city

It might sound hard to believe, but some people have ended up in the wrong city. When booking a flight, don’t just check the city name; it’s important to also verify the name of the country. Otherwise you could end up in Sydney, Nova Scotia instead of Sydney, Australia – or vice versa.

Not booking in time

Flight Network experts say most travellers don’t realize that the longer you wait to purchase your flight, the more likely it is to go up in price. Airlines sell seats in blocks, with the cheapest seats released first. The closer you get to the departure date, the more the seats are going to cost, according to the Flight Network.

Ignoring terms and conditions

Terms and conditions can be long, wordy and frankly, boring. The fine print can include very important details, including cancellation fees, baggage fees and no-show policies. The typical cost to change or cancel a flight in Canada is $250, while some can charge upwards of $600 for specific changes. Take the time to read through the terms and conditions, experts recommend.

Opting out of travel insurance

While it may seem like an added expense on top of an already pricey trip, travel insurance can save you thousands of dollars if you’re injured while out of the country. Experts recommend purchasing a travel insurance package before you go, especially for international travel. It’s also important to check any existing insurance policies, though, as your employer may cover travel insurance.

Just How Dumb Do Airlines Think Their Passengers Are?

According to statistics that I’m making up off the top of my head, 97 percent of Americans who have flown on airplanes have been completely miserable with the experience and have therefore told at least five friends and coworkers how much they hate using specific airlines. Of course, that hardly ever stops us from using the same airlines over and over, because there are four companies that essentially control our long distance travel destinies, and until Elon Musk makes good with that Hyperloop idea, we’ll all continue to bow down before our air travel overlords, as they make their seats smaller and cut the number of snack options we’re given on a flight from two to one broken, stale pretzel.

Obviously, these airlines know exactly what they’re doing when they’re ripping us off and ruining our fun, and that’s evidenced by the recent accusations of price fixing. And don’t even get us started on cable companies and their robocalls. Instead, we’ll let anchors Tom Storey and Briana Lane handle that on today’s episode of The Desk.

 

Pilots and flight attendants confess dark secrets about flying (22 photos)

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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