Hi there! I’m going to jump right in and tell you today is going to be a little less deep and run-on-sentence-y than my usual style of sharing my life and faith with you lovely people. If my typical blogging style is “meaty” and even a little bit as satisfying to read as it is to write, this one is more like a mini bag of Chex mix; you’re probably not going to be interested in every single tidbit I’m about to present so feel free to chew on the ones you like & leave the ones you don’t!
I know that traveling can be stressful and super studded with those Dang it where’s my … and I should have thought about … moments!
Listen to me sweet people: it is not your fault.
You’re running on caffeine elevated drowsiness, you’re crowded, you’re a little peckish to be honest and just a little bit cold, you’re not confident about when to pee, and the dead florescent lighting is inescapable. Shake it all up and you’ve got the brain numbing cocktail I like to call airport voodoo.
SO, to kill a Friday, here is my grand career manifesto! … Which is basically just a list of answers to my all time FAQ’s and some helpful hints to get you from bag check to final destination with all the confidence of a total regular. I’ve also enlisted help from some fellow stews across a myriad of airlines to throw you the biggest and most beautiful bang for your internet searching buck tonight! They’re rad and brilliant and we’re here to help, so let’s dive in, yeah?
Why do the flight attendants yell at me when I try to go to the bathroom? Rude.
Because the seatbelt sign is on. That’s it! I promise! We’re not actually bladder nazi’s, we’re totally on board with your business being your own business. But when we’re climbing to our cruising altitude for the first 15-20 minutes right after takeoff or when we’re expecting or experiencing flight turbulence at any point in the air, that seat belt sign dings on and we are legally obligated to ruin your stealth mode walk to the lavatory with a cheery, “Hey, the seatbelt sign is on.”
Why? Well, once upon a time someone got up during the flight while the seatbelt sign was on, the flight attendant said something like, “be careful” (which was later legally argued as pseudo-permission to be out of their seat) and this person sustained some kind of injury and sued. BUT notice we did not just say you can’t use the bathroom! Why? Incase you contract some kind of health mis-benefit from being forced to sit down (UTI, anyone?) and try to sue us for that, too! So long story short, while flight attendants are contractually obligated to make it awkward it’s ultimately your call. Just reply with, “okay, thanks for the heads up,” or “it’s an emergency, i’ll be out in a jiff!” and you do you, honey.
Pro tip #1: Use the restrooms in the airport instead whenever possible, they’re cleaned more thoroughly & often than the plane lavatories which I’ll tell you only ever get a lightning fast wipe-down in between flights.
Do I really need to put my phone in airplane mode?
I honestly don’t know. Apparently at some point cell phones could interfere with our navigation equipment – maybe that’s still true but it’s 2019 and I hope not. HOWEVER if you’re not in airplane mode you can’t access the plane’s wifi, plus your battery will drain crazy fast trying to jump between towers, so you probably want to be in airplane mode, capeesh?
What should I wear?
I’ve noticed that people usually dress based on their destination rather than the flight; tropical vacationers are in flip flops, Hawaiian t’s, maxi dresses & whicker handbags, business men and women wear suits, family visitors seem to wear pajamas and mom jeans a ton, athletes wear athleisure-wear, celebrities wear baseball hats, sunglasses & anything black, and 14 year old instagram models somehow get their clothes out of your Pinterest fantasies for the dozens of pictures they’ll be tagging #catchflightsnotfeelings before we’ve leveled off … you think I’m lying but every single stereotype you’ve seen in movies is one-hundo percent a thing!
Here are some universal tips that fly across the spectrum:
1) Layers are your friend – I cannot tell you how often I get asked for blankets because people are “freezing”. [Spoiler alert: most airlines give out blankets only in first class unless you’re traveling on a Red-Eye (overnight trip) or internationally, and the blankets we do give are thin, sad and reused (we collect, wash and repackage them for new flights)]. So, bring a sweater or coat and wear something that will cover at least most of your legs. Temperatures in the cabin vary but are usually kept on the slightly chillier side because warmth is a friend to smells and there are a lot of smells to experience in a metal tube where the air is just repeatedly circulated.
2) Close-toed shoes (& socks) are your friend – We’ve all been there … the cold, nasty floor of security checkpoints around the world … and we’ve all been their barefoot. Once is enough, avoid the TSA walk of shame from luggage belt drop off through the arch of metal detecting to the possible pat down point and wear (clean) socks, okay? They’ll also keep your feet warm on the frigid floor of the airplane which gets so freaking cold guys.
3) Pockets [on your person] are your friend – Leggings are so comfy and a fan fav of passengers traveling anywhere and everywhere and should be! They have waged a totally needed war on stupid regular pants. BUT they don’t usually have pockets and when they do they’re dinky. When you fly you are basically renting real estate that’s 5 ft. tall and 2.5 ft. wide ~ you sit down and realize convenience is everything! So keep your buttery leg socks of goodness but if you’re not going to have good pockets down low, pick a favorite hoodie or jacket to help your must have items close. Bags are obviously great but reaching them is a pain.
Pro tip #2: Have those items you KNOW you’re going to use (phone, headphones, gum, wallet, etc.) in your pockets or at the top level of your “personal item” (backpack or purse, not your suitcase) before boarding so when you’ve boarded and made it to your seat you’re not holding up the line behind you, digging through the black hole in your bags searching for those things. It is such a small small thing friends and it’s not a big deal at all, but slow boarding is one of the main reasons we push off the gate late, miss our take off window, have to wait for a new “it’s go time” from the control tower and miss connections.
4) Pre-flight showers & Deodorant are your friends – you may not know this but people can actually be turned away by the gate agent for excessive B.O.! Maybe this is harsh, and I’ve only witnessed it a handful of times, but it’s a good kick in the pants to remember to be a good seat neighbor! How it usually goes down is one passenger will sit next to a stinky one for all of 5 seconds then come find me in the galley demanding to be moved to another seat. At that point I’ll move them or I can’t, depending on how full the flight is booked. If they make enough of a fuss I have to inform the gate agent who at that point makes the yay or nay call if stinks-a-ton can fly.
Pro tip #2: [Brought to you by the gorgeous mermaid of a human, FA Kathleen, New York based] “When I travel I always bring a scarf with me that I’ve sprayed my perfume on. That way if I’m next to someone who doesn’t smell good I can wear it around my neck or discreetly hold it near my nose to make it bearable.”
I. use. this. golden. nugget. of. wisdom. all. the. time.
What can I and can’t I pack when flying abroad?
Luggage regulations internationally are always changing, so the best way to be confident about what you’re bringing is to go to the online to the TSA website and select the page of the country you’re flying into – they’ll have an updated list of restrictions and local no-no’s. Everywhere is different! London is super fussy about liquids, while Paris let me bring 3 full bottles of wine with me! Mexico will fine you hundreds (and hundreds) of bucks for an apple but Canada just cares that you don’t bring in weed! The more you know, friends!
Why won’t you guys help me lift my bag?
It may seem a little rude but if it’s too heavy for you to lift, I’m sorry but I have the upper body strength of a precious but tiny canary bird and you’re probably stronger than I am sooooo … I can check it for you to your final destination for free and someone else can lift it into the belly of the beast. I get judged so hard for this by ya’ll but I’m sorry, unless you have a *legitimate* medical reason, you’re the one who overstuffed it and I’m not trying to get injured or have back problems in a few years throwing up everyone’s ginormous luggage. You pack it, you stack it; I touch it, I tag it. Thank you, next.
Any hotel hacks?
If you also travel during weird hours for work and are trying catch some much needed sleep during daylight, use a couple of pants-hangers from the closet to clamp the drapes shut! My hubs loves this one.
How can I make sure I don’t get sick?
Painful honesty time: You don’t. I can’t lie to you, with my now hard won immune system of steel I still catch some nasty crap every now and again from ya’ll. Feel free to full on commit and rock one of those surgical masks on your journey! If I had to guess that’s you’re best shot at all out protection but I can’t say for sure, air crew obviously aren’t allowed to don them at work. If you don’t feel like erecting a literal border wall in front of your face, take a page out of our book and get proactive!
1) Go into your trip well rested. There’s a link between lack of sleep and your immune system that’s probably already kicked your butt at some point. Yes, THE best way to pass time on a flight is getting a glorious nap in, but still try to get to bed on time to give your body that extra juice to repel all those viruses planes are totally teeming with.
2) Take your Emergen-C‘s, your Airborne‘s, your Zicam and all your lifegiving vitamins before you head to the airport, not after you get that first sniffle.
3) Airplanes & airports are cold and full of other people. Dress accordingly, avoid wet hair and tote some mini hand sanitizer (that meets the 3.4 oz liquid restriction requirements) and saves you a trip to the nasty lav for a hand wash when someone sneezes in your vicinity.
Pro Tip #3: If you are flying sick, obviously avoid contact with others as much as you can (which we know isn’t often). Medicate actively throughout the day especially if you are congested at all! Flying congested is actually really dangerous for your ears and in extreme cases can even burst your eardrum. When we go into our final descent, the normal & natural “popping” of your ears happens to match the pressure inside to the changing pressure outside. Congestion and nasal pressure blocks the pathway for it and can cause tremendous, miserable pain and pressure. Get the legit 24hr Sudafed, the kind you have to order with an ID, and pop them about 20 minutes before takeoff for best results.
How do I treat my skin when I’m on vacation?
I’ll throw this one to my dearly beloved and gorgeously more qualified Merci Migliore ~ certified makeup artist & flight attendant who answered a similar question for RedBook Magazine last April:
“My best advice to anyone traveling is to think ahead, and this is especially true for skin. So when I know I’m going to be away from home for two or more days, I fill travel sized bottles with my usual products so I can stick to my routine. I also do an at home chemical peel before leaving with Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare‘s Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads (available at Sephora.com; $17 for 5 treatments). If I get chapped lips or dry skin on the road, I add vitamin E ointment or Aquaphor (available at drugstores) to my regular moisturizer.”
*** Follow her on instagram @mercibeautè to dine on more delicious wisdom and see some stellar pretty things***
Should I bring my own food?
YES. Terminal food is overpriced and airplane food is way overpriced! Both are excessively salty, neither are fresh and nothing tastes nearly as good as you want it to during the stressful process of traveling. Plus packing your own snackies spares you the risk of going hungry due to delays and all those short connections between flights! Bring along something that keeps alright in the cozy room temperature environment of your backpack like a sandwich, bagged snacks or fruit. And hey, for you egg lovers that always seem to end up on my planes, please, for the love of little six pound eight ounce sweet baby Jesus leave your hard boiled eggs at home. Ascending and descending through the air flirts with your fart centers and your gastrointestinal movements test me hard. Just please don’t. I can’t with you.
What’s the craziest story you have to tell?
So, like all my friends’ stories are better than mine but I’ve had to ask a man to please stop licking his cat and place it back in it’s pet carrier for takeoff, a marriage proposal mid flight in first class, have had a supremely drunk man take a weak swing at me for cutting him off from the liquor drawer, had a first class woman demand that I simply must give her the food I reheated for myself from home because the menu didn’t have anything her son wanted to eat, and another mother write to the company on three separate occasions trying to get me fired with the complaint I didn’t have a blanket to give her child in coach class on one 45 minute flight from LaGuardia to Boston.
What makeup & skincare products do flight attendants swear by?
This is absolutely, hands down the question I get most often from passengers, family & friends!
Now personally, I am not and have never been a total makeup guru – if that’s you, you are a magical creature to me – but I don’t kill time experimenting on the weekends or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. From my freshman year of high school into my early twenties I was totally drug store exclusive, if I couldn’t find it on the shelves at CVS, Walgreens or Target, it wasn’t in my (Walmart) makeup bag. I confidently cruised into this job with that makeup bag and my .005 cent daily routine, and after only a few weeks sky high I noticed my skin was beginning to flake, my pores were clogged, pink and irritated, and my face felt both greasy to the touch and desert level thirsty at the same time. Even more disheartening and frustrating, I’d catching myself in the lav mirror a couple hours into my long day and saw that all my efforts had somehow magically evaporated into the thin, dry air.
SO, for the next few months (and even years) I found every flight attendant within five feet of me and asked these captivating commercial-ready cohorts for the skinny: which products could actually and effectively combat our long hours, lack of sleep and the unmatched dehydrating dryness of cabin air?
I’ve learned that there are 3 major players in the game at 35,000 feet: long wear makeup, super ultra crazy hydrating skincare & saving $ where you can in your routine so you can spend it where you really ought to!
Knowing that there’s like thousands and thousands of FA’s out there that could render a myriad of luscious and inspired advice, I’m going to limit my rec’s below to the products & tips that came to me exclusively through other flight attendants, and that I’ve had personal success with.
*** Happy lil’ disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with any of these brands in any way and get zero kick back financial or otherwise (dang it) from sharing their existence with ya’ll today. Also, I wanted to include some pics to feast your eyes on in case you’re like me and want a visual aid on your hunt for them later, so all shots included I took in my mostly clean kitchen to avoid copyright laws, cool? Cool. ***
Basically anything from the Yes to product line!
[Recommended by FA Danielle, JetBlue; FA Esther, Delta Airlines; FA Reid, Envoy Airlines; FA’s Rashida & Dominique, American Airlines]
Here are some of those bank account friendly items smack at the top of my list! This line is fairly young, in ’06 it kicked things off with some extremely well received fan faves like Yes to Tomatoes Daily balancing (facial) moisturizer, Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Peel Off Charcoal Mask, and their Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes. They’ve since expanded their product line in tons of ways to get stoked on! Their approach to skin care is from a personalized platform, connecting specific skin type problems with a natural organically grown ingredient and creating an overarching collection from there. For example, shop their Say Yes to Tomatoes category is for any combination & acne prone skin, Say Yes to Cucumbers is for sensitive skin, Say Yes to Blueberries is for mature and aging skin, Say Yes to Grapefruit is for all dull and uneven skin, and Say Yes to Coconut is for super dry skin, to name a few. They deal out everything from moisturizer to hair masks to deodorant to lip oil to bubbling face masks to acne spot treatment to something called glow-boosting unicorn transforming clay cleanser.
I found this line through several flight attendants when I expressed frustration over all the moisturizer based breakouts I was getting because I didn’t want to go to Sephora and throw down $50 to stop my cheeks from high altitude flaking. Since connecting with the Yes to Tomatoes Daily balancing moisturizer I’ve tried tons of their products and have had ZERO issues with ANY of them!
They’re super gentle, actually settle into your skin and are a huge favorite of brand new flight attendants on the junior side of the pay scale. Plus, they’re basically all travel size! The best part? The price map of their entire range of goodness begins at $2.99 and is capped at $15.99!
P.S. Their face masks are a JOY. Take advantage.
Ultimate care hand creme with baobab oil from Burt’s Bees
[Recommended by FA Soujin, American Airlines]
This one is also a drugstore find but SHE FANCY. A little pricey for hand lotion coming in at about $10-12 for just 3.2oz, especially for those of you like me who want to unleash the essence of a million peach orchards every time you pop the cap open, and can do so for like $5 at Bath & Bodyworks. This stuff is scentless but it genuinely works and for longer than the 2.5 minutes directly after squirting it on (which is excellent considering we wash our hands like a billion times a day). I was lent a lil squeeze by an angel on a Chicago trip in the dead of winter and now I’m totally that FA dealing it out in the galley between drink services! Pretty much every time I do, they ask what it’s called and where to score some. It’s just good stuff, friends.
Rose Floral Toner from Fresh
[Recommended by FA’s Mila & Kristen, American Airlines]
This one came to me from two “buddy bidding” flight attendants (they fly all their trips together) who both actually used to work at the same Sephora in Kansas City, MO together! (PRECIOUS.) Their skin was all dewey and glowy and radiating health so obviously I asked for their secret! They were a treasure trove of knowledge, but recommended only one product I hadn’t yet tried some variation of …
They took out the little bottle to show me and instantly I remembered that scene from FRIENDS where Phoebe becomes a toner telemarketer and asks her boss, ” I just have one question … what is toner?”
Turns out, it’s not a product everyone has in their makeup cabinet it but it’s a super healthy addition to a flight attendant’s routine! It basically helps to get that last bit of dirt and extra oil out of your face holes after you wash it, and balances the PH of your skin which sounds super scientific and generally like a good call. My favorite use of it is post makeup application hydration! AKA: skin looking even a little dry, makeup looking a little faded throughout the day? Spritz! Brings your skin back to life and doesn’t compromise your makeup at all!
Only $15 at Sephora!
Side note: smells intoxicatingly of roses!
Firm(x) Peeling Gel gel exfoliant from Peter Thomas Roth
[Recommended by FA Anari, Envoy & FA Enrique, American Airlines]
This is my holy grail tube. Coming in at $48 for 3.4oz it’s easily the biggest, dare I say “outrageous” splurge on the list, BUT it lasts forever and it does it’s job better than a.ny.thing. I have ever every put near my face! Long story short, after you remove your makeup and wash your face at the end of the day, you rub about a dime sized portion all over your gorgeous, tired face and any old, excess dead skin comes completely off … in teeny tiny clumps. It’s miraculous, a little gross and goose-bumpingly satisfying. Whether I like it or not as passionately as I wage war against the dryness of airplane cabin air, it’s still going to take it’s toll on my face, so products like this one that give me back that blank canvas I can then restore is where my dollar is in high demand! Once a week (or every other week) a 5 second part of my skin regiment sets the tone for the next 6-13 days; otherwise I’m just applying all my other products over the top layer of some seriously spent/dead skin.
For the best results, use at the MOST once or twice a week, or stretch it to once every two weeks like yours truly to make that $48 go farther and still achieve crazy results! According to my trusty Sephora girl (HEY BAILEY!) using this peel multiple times a week could be hard and over draw your new skin, “So only use it when you can see you really need it and deeply moisturize immediately after!”
It’s a game changer. It’s my favorite thing.
Facial Radiance Pads from First Aid Beauty
[Recommended by FA Lauren, United Airlines; FA Amanda, American Airlines & FA Tosh, Delta Airlines]
These are a great response to those of you who understandably don’t feel like paying almost $50 for that last glorious tube of peeling liquid wonder!
First Aid Beauty is exactly what it sounds like, no fuss skincare with awesome ingredients and phenomenal results. They basically subscribe to the belief that if you have a good, healthy canvas to work with, you really don’t need to wear a ton of makeup overtop of it.
These facial radiance pads are their #1 seller and are meant to be used every day after washing your face, to help remove dead skin cells little by little on the daily while helping to balance your skin’s PH (there that is again, important apparently). They also contain zero alcohol, so they don’t have that annoying itchy and drying effect on your skin!
You can find them at Sephora at $32 for 60 pads OR you can pick up one of their Brighten Park value packs to sample a smaller portion of the radiance pads, their ultra repair face moisturizer, cleanser and hydrating serum (also pictured above).
Lippies & Lashes
Meet Matte Hughes long lasting liquid lipstick from The Balm
[Recommended and gifted by FA Merci, JetBlue Airlines]
The classic flight attendant red lip (sigh.) There a zillion ways to get it but I’ve found only one that’s going to last you hours and hours through multiple meals with virtually no come back maintenance! This supreme little gem in three knockout shades of red has a sky high cult following, all who swear by their one favorite! Adoring dark brick red (left), Devoted bright candy red (middle) and Loyal classic 1940’s red (right) I see on repeat almost every month! Devoted is my spirit shade and I get at least a compliment a day! They don’t tend to bleed and are super duper pigmented so you only need one swipe across and they’ll outlive your overused Brita filter by months! And, as always with any red lipstick, be sure to cover your whole of your lips not just the edges with red lip liner (doesn’t have to be an exact match) especially when you are going with those deeper and darker tones! This will help it to last and make the overall coverage look an even shade of red.
I’ve only ever found these online either on Amazon or The Balm’s website for about about $17 each but their variety packs of six mini’s are a friggin steal at $29!
Pro tip #4: To remove any brand of long wear/long lasting lipstick, use coconut oil along with your makeup wipe! It works like a dream, hydrates your lips and doesn’t force you to scrub two layers of skin down to get it all off!
Buxom Full on Plumping Lip Creme Gloss in Dolly sultry mauve
[Recommended by FA Bree, American Airlines & FA Lacey, Delta Airlines]
This nude is the best one, that’s it. Oh! And it has tee tree oil in it that tingles and plumps your lips up a little bit which I thought I’d hate but am shamelessly obsessed with. It runs $21 for a full size at Sephora or Ulta, $25 for a single mini on Amazon, or get a value pack with four mini’s at Sephora for $25.
Voluminous False Fiber Lashes mascara from L’oreal Paris
[Recommended by FA Jayden, American Eagle]
Rounding out this list with one more righteous wally word find! Honestly, all mascara works pretty great so this is definitely one area you don’t have to dump a ton of cash on!
This is far and away the best mascara I’ve ever been willing to pay for. I was sitting on the jump seat ready for takeoff next to this exceptional human being with the most dashing lashes I’d ever ever seen, I asked her if it was the fancy Better than sex mascara I’d heard so much about and she directed me to this little gem for $7.99 instead!
And finally, just some here-to-there helpful hints from your friendly neighborhood FA’s!
“Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. If you’re counting on the flight attendant to keep you hydrated it’s not going to happen, that tiny plastic cup of water is simply not enough to keep you hydrated all day! I bring a large empty bottle of water to refill at the airport (inside security). Also drinking alcohol inflight further dehydrates you and increases jet lag.”
~ Griffin, private jet flight attendant
“The call button is really there for medical emergencies and extends to whatever you need when the person on the aisle is sleeping. If that’s not your situation, just walk to the back, we just individually served 150 people and if you save us the walk, whatever you’re asking for might be on the house!”
~ Alona, United
“Just don’t walk into the lavatories in your socks. Don’t take your shoes off at all, this isn’t your living room, but if you do put them back on to potty. There is pee on the floor. I don’t care if it’s dry and you can’t see it, it’s there.”
~ Gladys, American
“Alcohol at altitude is a dangerous mistress! One in the air hits you like two on the ground, that’s all I’m gonna say!”
~ Delia, Lufthansa
“We don’t actually start getting paid until boarding is done and the airplane door is literally closed so play nice long enough for us to push back on time and then have your meltdown please … or, you know … just take a nap!”
“Please shower first.”
~ Mary, Spirit
“Don’t be gate lice. If you’re not group one, you’re not getting on first. Chill out, take a breath, stretch your legs … you’re about to sit down for hours, dude.”
~ Maddie, American
“Don’t wait until you’re at the airport to download your Netflix for the flight; everyone’s leeching that free wifi and it’s stupid slow! Get that Queer Eye loaded at home to make sure you’re not at 90% during lift off!
~ Bree, American
“Bring snacks for your kids! We’re not catered for everyone to get a fancy snack box and I don’t love getting yelled at when I get to you when we’re out.”
~ Kirsten, American
“Put absolutely everything you want for the flight either on your person or in your personal item (i.e. purse, backpack, laptop bag, etc)! Depending on how late your boarding group is, they might check your carry-on suitcase.”
~ Amanda, American
“Enjoy yourself! Your vacation starts now!”
~ Jeremy, Delta
… that’s it! Happy trails, friends!