Holiday Travel Tips: DO’s and DON’Ts for 2020
Happy Holidays everyone!
It’s about that time. The lights are up, the sales are on, and Netflix is chock-full of cheesy, comforting Christmas-movie goodness. Many of you will want to travel this holiday season, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic. And far be it for me to judge. Being around friends, family, and those you hold dear is one of the best parts of the holiday season.
I get it. But if you will be traveling to see them this year, against the advice of healthcare professionals, there are a few things to keep in mind. Read on for important holiday travel tips.
I’ve put together a list of Dos and Don’ts for travel this holiday season. Many are about navigating travel in the current COVID landscape and others are general holiday travel tips that hold true even in non-Corona times. Check these out, and ensure that you are doing your part to make your travel experience as safe and smooth as possible. And without further ado, here they are:
The DOs and DON’Ts of Holiday Travel
Before you fly
DO get a COVID test before traveling. It’s nice of you to not put me, my coworkers, our families, and the hundreds of people you’ll be flying alongside at risk. Most states have some form of free testing. Check this Health & Human Services Coronavirus page and select your state to find COVID testing sites near you.
DON’T fly while awaiting results. That is SELFISH, and RECKLESS, and WRONG.
DON’T assume that your negative test is a sure bet. You could have contracted COVID when you went grocery shopping after your test. Or you could have been tested too soon within the incubation period. You could have caught it the following day. I’m not saying this to scare you, only to emphasize that regardless of test results, we still must follow best practices. Masks, handwashing, and social distancing. Minimize risk as best you can.
DO read in advance the airline’s policies regarding COVID precautions. While we’re at it, check out those for pets, bags, cancel/change fees, standby procedures, and alcohol consumption, too.
Every airline is doing something a little bit different when it comes to COVID response strategy. (Right now, it feels to me like “Pretending COVID isn’t a thing” might be the strategy, but what do I know?) Some airlines have banned certain types of masks. Some are still blocking seats. Some are delivering food and beverage service as normal, and some are not. It is worth it to find out this information before being blindsided at the airport—or on the airplane.
DON’T be surprised if seems like the precautions don’t entirely make sense. It’s just like the rest of society—we are all doing the best we can with the resources we have. Trying to stay safe while allowing life to continue on. It is not an exact science, and no single safety measure is 100% effective. Rather, each of those measures is like a piece of swiss cheese; far from perfect, full of holes, but better than nothing. And when we stack up all the slices of swiss together, the holes fill in, and it equals out to something like a solid defense plan.
Travel may be a DON’T this year, but if you’re going
DO follow this guide for a safer, smoother trip.
Eat, Drink, & Be Merry
DO bring food. One of the most important holiday travel tips in my book!
Restaurants are starting to open back up in airports and most airlines are now serving drinks and beverages in pre-pandemic style. (I don’t know why because we are losing more lives every day than we did the last. But I’m not in charge of Americans losing interest in a global pandemic of epic proportions, I’m just a flight attendant at risk in the aisle.)
Nevertheless, Winter is upon us and with that comes weather, ice, and delays. Make sure you have snacks in case you get stuck in the airport or on the plane for longer than anticipated. If your flight is long enough to warrant eating a meal, do yourself a favor and bring one. If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions—you know the drill. Bring it.
DON’T bring fish. It stinks. Don’t bring broccoli. It stinks. Don’t bring yogurt. Okay, fine, this one is not a common pet peeve. You can bring your yogurt, just know I find the smell revolting. This is also not a holiday travel DON’T, but a general, all-the-time travel DON’T.
DO have yourself a very merry glass of bubbles or a warm and toasty hot toddy when you arrive at the airport early.
DON’T get drunk in the airport and expect to make it on your flight. Legally, we are not permitted to transport drunk people. We don’t want to ruin your day, but we REALLY don’t want to have an alcohol-related safety or security incident on our flight. That would ruin everyone’s day.
When you consider ordering that last drink in the terminal bar, consider also how embarrassing it will be if your family finds out “getting hammered in the airport” is the reason you missed Christmas. Yikes.
Thank me for this holiday travel tip later!
On the Plane
DO sanitize your seat, tray table and surfaces you plan to touch on the airplane.
DON’T assume that this has been done by airport staff or professional cleaners. The consistency I’ve seen in this endeavor is laughable.
DO wear your mask. Most of you are rolling your eyes because this is so obvious, but believe it or not airlines are still having to kick people off regularly for mask noncompliance. Don’t be one of those people. They are embarrassing.
DON’T complain that the plane is too full, that the seat next to you is taken, that you are nervous about “social distancing.” It is called a private jet, and since you apparently don’t have one, you’re stuck here with the rest of the people who *like you* chose to travel amid a global pandemic.
DO speak up, loudly and clearly, to place your beverage and snack order. Planes are loud and we have masks on. Just project a liiiiiiittle extra so we don’t have to play the “What?” game in the aisle.
DON’T pull your mask down to order. I know it is difficult to communicate sometimes, but we’ve got to stay as safe as possible. Keep your mask on, and instead try speaking louder. And while we’re on the topic of ‘in the aisle’…
DON’T prolong your flight attendant’s time in the aisle. Speaking loudly and clearly, listening for your options, and having your order ready in advance are all ways to make our interactions go more smoothly and quickly. Every moment we flight attendants are in the aisle, surrounded by you and your fellow travelers, we are putting ourselves at risk. We go home and put our families at risk. Being essential workers, we do not have the option of working from the safety of our homes, so we must do what we can to stay safe at work. Making these interactions brief and our time in the aisle shorter helps to reduce our risk and keep us safer. Thank you for understanding and I promise we will get back to being chatty once it is safe to do so! <3
Giving: Gifts & Thanks
DO bring us gifts. Okay, I’m not asking for the world, just a little chocolate.
Every now and again, customers, out of the goodness of their hearts, bring their flight attendants little tokens of appreciation. This is usually in the form of sugar, à la chocolat, but can sometimes be other things. It is by no means required. But when it does happen, especially around the holidays, we appreciate it SO much.
Use this holiday travel tip any time of year, and see if you don’t get five-star treatment from some very happy FAs. If you want to bring us gifts but don’t want to make us fat (thanks for the concern) face masks, chapstick, mini hand lotions or sanitizers are all awesome and welcome additions to our on-the-road gear!
DON’T bring us gifts that could get us fired. No alcohol-filled chocolates. No CBD infused anything. No insider trading tips. Keep it Kosher.
DO thank us for working the holidays so that you can travel to see your loved ones. Flight attendants and pilots—like so many other essential workers—miss out on holidays with family. It is the nature of the beast, a deal we agree to before we start this crazy, exciting life. And most of us would never give it up. But still, on those holidays that we are far from home and feeling lonely, a small kindness, as simple as a thank you, can make all the difference in the world.
DON’T say “I can’t believe they make you work the holidays!” Funny thing about supply and demand—if you weren’t here saying this cutesy, Podunk statement, I wouldn’t be working. We all have our part to play. Let’s just have a safe and pleasant time doing it.
And that’s all I’ve got for you folks. Follow these holiday travel Dos and Don’ts to ensure that your travel (if you must take it) is as safe, healthy, and pleasant as possible.
Flight Attendant readers—what are YOUR best holiday travel tips? COVID precautions or just in general?
If you are still searching for the perfect gift for the aviator or frequent flyer in your life, be sure to check out our 2020 Gift Guide. Find all the best gifts for flight attendants, pilots, and travelers.
Have yourself a very merry ride and a safe and happy holiday season.