Airline rules and regulations are designed to ensure your comfort and safety, as well as the comfort and safety of everyone else on board. But there are also quite a few unspoken rules that need to be followed while soaring through the sky.
LifeSavvy spoke with two flight attendants about common travel mistakes they see at work and what they recommend doing instead.
Using the bathroom during boarding
Using the bathroom on a plane during the boarding process is a major contributing factor in slowing down boarding procedures, according to Christa Treat, who has been a flight attendant for 15 years. When you head to the bathroom while the passengers are still boarding the plane, everyone has to wait for you to return to your seat in the opposite direction.
Flight attendants also can’t close the plane door while someone is in the bathroom, so you may end up delaying your flight if you take your time. Christa recommends using the large bathroom at the airport before her flight rather than relying on the “flying porta-potty” on the plane.
Waterboy Weekend Recovery
When you stay properly hydrated on a plane, you won’t need to drink water and go to the bathroom as much.
take off shoes
One of the most common travel mistakes eight-year-old flight attendant Katie sees is people taking off their shoes on the plane. While it’s okay to take her shoes off for a few hours while she’s in her seat (if she has clean socks!), Katie strongly recommends not moving around the plane without shoes.
“I’ve seen so many people, including some celebrities, walk into the bathroom in their socks,” Katie said. “Let me tell you, it’s not always water on the floor.”
Play it safe and keep your shoes on during the flight.
No packaging needs
Flight attendants do their best to help you feel comfortable, but have few resources available. Christa shared that travelers often request items like milk, heavy snacks, and items that planes just don’t carry.
Christa recommends packing everything you think you’ll need for the flight without relying on planes to meet your physical item needs. She also noted that delays do happen that can make your trip much longer than expected, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.
Purchase of seats separated from each other
“I often notice passengers buy economy tickets or third party tickets for their family and often sit far from each other,” Katie said. “When you buy these tickets, you will take the seats that have not been chosen by other passengers.”
You may not always be able to purchase seats together, and you can always ask a flight attendant before you board if you and your group can get closer. However, if you’re trying to save some money by not paying for your seats or buying tickets that don’t allow you to choose your seats, understand that you may not be able to sit together.
Christa shared that she sees people trying to bring as much as they can on flights all the time. While she understands trying to save money on baggage fees, she also believes that many travelers make things difficult for themselves.
“It’s really easy to sign up for mileage plans and have them check a bag for free,” he said. “It allows you to be more hands-free and not have to worry about where your bag will fit in already crowded overhead bins.”
If you really want to avoid checking a bag, which is a travel practice we understand, make sure you’re aware of your airline’s baggage policies. Most airlines only allow one carry-on and one personal item on board, and will not allow you to board the plane if you have more than two items. Some airlines also have weight and size restrictions for hand luggage.
If you’re waiting for your free drink on a flight, you’re not alone. But Katie advises sticking to that drink, if she decides to drink.
“Many people don’t realize that at high altitude/lack of oxygen, one can become intoxicated very quickly,” he said. “One drink on the ground becomes two or three in the air.”
Katie recommends pacing yourself once you arrive at the airport and especially once you get on the plane. You should also drink plenty of water during the flight, as it is very easy to become dehydrated in the air.
Do not prepare entertainment
Christa told us that people ask her why movies on their phones won’t play during a flight. Most of the time, she said, it’s because they didn’t download the media to their devices, so they can’t play anything without high-speed internet.
To avoid this problem, Christa recommends testing movies and music on your phone before you head to the airport to make sure they play without internet access. Also make sure you have charged your devices before a flight, as not all planes have chargers.
Running forward after landing
There always seems to be one person on every flight who jumps out the moment the plane lands, grabs their stuff, and runs to the front of the plane. While Katie understands wanting to stretch your legs, she points out that it’s rude to cut everyone else in front of you when it comes to getting off the plane.
“Having manners is important,” he said. “It also helps make the disembarkation process much faster if everyone waits until their turn.”
If you have a tight connection (which Katie recommends avoiding when possible), let the flight attendants know. They are usually happy to make an announcement asking other passengers to drop you and your party off first.
No one knows how to have a great flight better than flight attendants. We spoke to two about the most common travel mistakes they see at work and what to do instead to travel happily.