The Blue Hen guide to safeguarding your sanity before takeoff
Flying these days is turbulent. The onset of COVID-19 led to a 70% dip in air travel—compare that to a 7% dip post 9/11—so major carriers laid off thousands of employees and retired a slew of planes. Years later, even as demand has rebounded, the industry navigates a bumpy ride. What does this mean for your average flier this holiday season? Delays, cancellations and a general sense of aviation vexation.
To help make taxiing the runway just a little more bearable for you and your compatriots across the aisle, we reached out to Alyson Belgraier, HS12, for her input on air travel dos and don’ts. While the Blue Hen launched her hospitality career firmly on the ground as a manager with luxury fitness and property brands, she now spends 130 hours per month circling the globe as a Delta flight attendant. About her in-air philosophy, she says, “I do my best to keep things drama free.”
If that sounds like your kind of flight, fasten your seatbelt, secure your tray table and prepare for a first-class trip.
To fly the friendly skies... DO:
- Fly before 8 a.m. Early morning flights, when airspace is less crowded, are “cheaper, faster and strategically wiser,” reports Travel and Leisure.
- Pack snacks. Hungry fliers are more prone to air rage.
- Carry on. Lost luggage has surged 30% since the onset of Covid-19, according to Bloomberg.
- Route through Atlanta, Minneapolis or Honolulu—the top three airports for on-time arrivals, according to smartertravel.com.
- Be nice to the flight attendants. They’ll be more motivated to answer your call button or help return that laptop you left in 14C.
- Be patient waiting for the beverage cart. Pro tip: A Diet Coke takes an extremely long time to pour, because it’s extra foamy at 30,000 feet.
- Wear shoes to the bathroom. “That’s probably not water on the floor,” Belgraier says.
- Fly a day earlier than necessary, to provide a cushion.
To avoid terror on the tarmac... DON'T:
- Fly on Thursdays or Tuesdays. They see the most cancellations and delays, respectively, according to passenger advocate group AirHelp.
- Break out the tuna fish, egg salad or anything particularly smelly on board. Belgraier’s least fave plane snack: brussel sprouts.
- Rely on product dimensions found on a bag’s label or the seller’s website. When determining if your carry-on meets an airline’s size restrictions, measure yourself.
- Route through Newark, Orlando or Dallas, where more than 25% of flights arrive late.
- Expect a flight attendant can do anything about a delay. “We are probably more irritated than you,” Belgraier says. “We don’t get paid for delays.”
- Go overboard on the alcohol. The one-two punch of reduced cabin pressure and low humidity supercharges the effects, leading to beer tears during cross-check.
- Attempt to join the mile-high club. About 6% of passengers try for an in-air tryst, according to Cheapflights.com, and “we always know,” Belgraier says.
- Expect everything to go smoothly, even if you take all the right precautions. “Mentally prepare yourself,” Belgraier says. “And stay calm.”