Pro tips: 8 travel hacks from a flight attendant

Travelling isn’t always glamorous. Ziplock bags instead of designer purses, and slippers instead of stilettos are the staples of a seasoned traveller’s wardrobe.

But if anyone can make it look effortless, it’s a flight attendant. They always look cool, calm, and collected, even after a 15-hour over nighter. How do they do it?

I know how. You see, I spent four years as a flight attendant with Jetstar. These are some of my in-the-know travel secrets…

1. Book the back

Be a backseat bandit. Just like on the bus at school, it’s “cool” to sit at the back of the plane – and smart, too.

Travelling domestically, if you can’t get one of the front rows, book the back. There’s always fewer people down there and the majority of the time you’ll be getting off just as quick as those in business class.

2. Sit separately

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, even on a plane. No matter how much you love your travel buddy, I recommend sitting apart.

If you’ve ever endured a family sing-along on a long road trip, you’ll know that confined spaces can bring out the worst in us all. Give yourself room to breathe by leaving a seat between you and your companion. You might even get three seats for the price of two!

Take a risk and book the aisle and window seat, as opposed to side-by-side. People are clearly less likely to assign themselves between two occupied seats unless there’s no other option.

3. Find the exits

We all know that familiarising ourselves with a plane’s exits is important to do after you board, but it’s equally important to do beforehand as well. It’s your ticket to a bargain upgrade.

If you want to stretch out, you’ll usually get a better deal by booking a seat in the exit row instead of premium economy, then using your carry-on bag as a foot rest after takeoff. It’s like business class on the cheap 😉

Anastasia today

4. Make friends with ziplock

Travel is a great way to make new friends. But your most important relationship should be with the humble ziplock bag. It could just save your (luggage’s) life.

Always, always ziplock-bag your liquid cosmetics and toiletries – there is absolutely nothing worse than getting to your destination with shampoo all over your clothes.

Worse yet, as an airline hostess, I had a flight delayed for two hours while we investigated an unknown substance in the cargo hold. It actually turned out to be shampoo, which had leaked from a bag.

5. Be kind to the hosties

Travelling can be stressful and sometimes even the best of us get a little grumpy. But you should always be polite to your hosties and give them your full attention during cabin announcements (even if you feel like you’ve seen the safety demonstration dozens of times). Between dealing with shampoo sagas and serving your cheese and crackers, they’ve got enough on their plate.

The easiest way to upset a flight attendant is by constantly pressing the call bell for requests. Instead, stretch your legs and walk up the back of the plane to say hello – it might just make your hostie’s day.

6. Hoodies are the new black

Or your mum’s shawl, or your old baby blanket. Whatever keeps you warm at night. But I recommend the good ol’ hoodie – and not just to keep warm when the cabin cools down. They make perfect eye masks – just right for blocking the light from the relentless reader next to you.

A fleecy hoodie over your face might not look as elegant as a slinky silk eye mask, but it will do the job. No ruffles, no frills – just plain old comfort.

Anastasia on holiday in Canada

7. Check out before you check in

Yep, flight attendants read hotel reviews too!

Always check reviews, no matter the deal. And always check the hotel’s hashtags on social media for photos that other guests have taken, because the hotel will always show itself at its best.

8. Don’t overshare – with one exception

Be careful what you say in the hotel lobby. Sometimes the walls have eyes (or at least ears).

Never discuss room numbers in the hotel lobby when you’re checking in. It’s easy to forget, especially when you’re travelling with friends, but you just never know who’s listening.

But do tell the staff if you’re celebrating a special occasion. You’re likely to get an upgrade or a nice glass of champagne 😉

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