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Vacation Bliss or Nightmare: A Flight’s Attendant’s Advice on Traveling Now

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As the world returns to a new normal of post-pandemic travel, horror travel stories are making the rounds. So, what do we do to survive this new normal?

The pandemic has changed flying more than we ever thought was possible. Now, travelling by air is a very stressful activity. What if your flight gets delayed, or worse, cancelled? What if the airline loses your checked luggage?

At the very beginning of the pandemic, airlines tried to save as much money as possible; many employees were laid off, allowed early retirement, or quit altogether. As a result, airlines are experiencing an employee shortage while many around the globe are beginning to travel internationally as pandemic-related restrictions lift. Employee shortages include pilots, flight attendances, and ground crew. And while one might not realize it, the ground crew is highly crucial as they park the planes, drive the jet bridges so passengers can board and get off, load and retrieve passenger bags and scan boarding passes.

Flight crews, including pilots and flight attendants, can generally only fly 12 to 16 hours at a time, and it is illegal for them to fly longer than this. Consequently, employee shortages are causing flight delays meaning that after a specific time, staff cannot operate a plane resulting in thousands of flight cancellations worldwide.

Flight attendant, Kristie Koerbel shares nine tips for surviving travel with the New York Times.

Travel early

If you are travelling on a cruise, leave the day before to allow yourself grace for potential delays and cancellations. Buy travel insurance if you can.

Try flying direct

If possible, try flying directly to your destination and if you do have layovers, try to schedule more extended layovers so you are not stressed about missing your flights. A one-hour layer is not long enough – three hours is the safest option.

Fly as early as possible in the day

The first flights of the day rarely get cancelled, and if they do, you have options to rebook on a different flight throughout the remaining day.

Download the app of the airline you are travelling with

Apps have crucial flight information and will often be able to provide you with an update even before the airline can. You can track your baggage, incoming flights, cancellations and even rebook a new flight.

Avoid booking through a third-party website

With post-pandemic travel, flights are full, which means that if a flight is oversold, the first people to be bumped are those who tried saving money by using a third-party website to book their ticket.

Pack smart

To ensure you have all your belongings with you, try to pack smart so your carry-on luggage fits in the overhead compartments and your luggage is not being ‘checked-in’ which makes the possibility of your essentials being lost.

Bring a sweater

Flight attendants will often keep the airplane cold intentionally as it helps those who experience airsickness. So, pack a sweater because they will not be turning down the temperature because you decided to dress light.

Don’t tell a flight attendant they look tired

Staff are overworked right now, and they are burnt out working the maximum legal hour stretches they can make travellers happy – they are tired, they know they look tired, but it does not need to be vocalized.

Finally, be kind and have patience. Everyone is stressed out and trying their best to make light of an impossible situation.