It’s that time of year.
The news outlets have already begun stationing reporters at the check-in areas of thee major airports, covering the chaos and utter agony that flying with the family over the holiday season brings. We flight attendants see the changeover from routine fliers to the holiday crowd clear as day – our passengers are just over it before they’ve even boarded the plane. It’s sad, because it should be a happy time, and instead we watch everyone board with frayed nerves and hair-triggers. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Just take a deep breath and try some of these tricks to get yourself from point A to point B this season with your sanity intact, and maybe actually get to enjoy yourself along the way. (No promises, but let’s try, shall we?)
Let’s start with packing. You don’t want to check a bag, but you’re already running out of space trying to pack all those bedazzled snowflake sweaters. Instead of folding your clothes, tightly and neatly roll them. You’ll be able to pack a bit more densely. Just don’t pack your bag too heavy so you can’t lift it – we aren’t permitted to do it for you (most of us sport back injuries from the “just this once” time we helped someone else.)
This ought to go without saying, but still needs to be said, because you’d never believe the number of people who miss flights, but leave for the airport early. I don’t care how early in the morning your flight is – expect the security line to be a zoo. Which is worse: being tired, or having to deal with a missed flight? Set the alarm and get the coffee ready – quit being a pansy!
Now you’re getting a ride to the airport! Here’s where the “fun” really begins, as once you’ve made your way through the traffic to get to your terminal, cars are nearly hitting each other from all directions as they jockey for position. The solution? Don’t go to the departures level! It’s rarely ever worth it. Get dropped off at arrivals, where, especially in the morning, fewer people will be. Just go up the escalator back to ticketing and look outside at everyone else as they play a foul-mouthed game of bumper cars.
Once you’ve made it onboard, relax! We see loads of infrequent flyers during the holidays, and they make themselves obvious very quickly – usually because they are the ones least likely to heed the safety instructions, especially when crying young ones are involved. Keep in mind that, as self-conscious as you may be with a screaming baby, we would all rather a baby screaming from being overtired than hurt. You’d never believe the things we see people do with babies onboard – I’ve seen people lay them in the aisle during landing, let toddlers run around the plane unsupervised during turbulence, and climb over the seats. But when we request that the parents observe the rules, we are treated like the enemy who just doesn’t understand. Not every flight attendant handles these situations with as much grace as they should, I am sure, but please understand that we want everyone to be safe onboard – especially young children.
I know this may be oversimplifying things, but it really sometimes can be just that simple. Give yourself a break, give others a break, and try to remember that we ultimately all just want to be with the people we love.