Toni’s Top 9 Layovers of All Time
Layover Life, amirite?
Perhaps because last week’s post about Flight Attendants’ Fight for Fair Pay was so heady and distressing (even for someone in the biz), this week I wanted to keep it light. Today I’m celebrating one of the best things about my job as a flight attendant—the layovers!
I’ll be highlighting some of my all-time favorite layovers. Keep in mind, I work for a US carrier that does minimal international flight routes. So, you won’t see any sweeping views of London, Paris, or Rio de Janeiro. Instead, you’ll get good times in mostly US destinations. This post is short, sweet, and full of pics. If you want more info about any of the layover cities found in this post, feel free to reach out in the comments or DM me on Instagram.
Here we go, down memory lane.
This Flight Attendant’s
9 Best Layovers of All Time
1. Nassau, Bahamas
We had to work one hell of a trip to get here (and let me emphasize hell.) but once we did, it was sunshine, good times, and the kickoff to one of my great at-work friendships.
I wish I could show the video of our pilots’ dance moves here, but I’m too kind for that. So, Ann and I will continue to share it with one another every 6-12 months for a good chuckle. We haven’t had any layovers in Nassau recently, but when we did, we stayed at Atlantis. You know, the beautiful, extravagant, castle-like all-inclusive? Complete with water park and aquarium?
Ann and I got to spend our evening sipping cocktails and cutting a rug, and our daytime laying in the sand and peeping sea turtles and sting rays.
2. Three Days Stuck in San Juan, Puerto Rico
I always have fun in San Juan. But a few years ago, I got stuck in San Juan, Puerto Rico for three days because of snow storms slamming the northeast. It was in April, but Mother Nature didn’t care that Spring had sprung.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Winter IROPS are the best! For those of you not in the biz, “Irop” means irregular operations. It can be many things, but often it is weather events that wreak havoc on our operation. The reason I prefer winter Irops to summer irops is that there is potential for exciting things to happen. In the summertime, Irops are usually due to thunderstorms. Womp, womp. Thunderstorms mean delays. Sometimes they roll on and on for hours, and if you read my last post, you’ll know that flight attendants are not paid for delays. It’s the pits.
(Read it here: Pay Me For Boarding: Why Flight Attendants Must Fight For Fair Pay)
Snow storms, on the other hand, are the good kind of bad.
When a blizzard or Nor’easter is approaching, you just never know what is going to happen with your trip. And personally, I like a little excitement in my life. “Will my entire trip cancel, allowing me to stay home and still get paid!?” “Will we cancel in Buffalo and get stuck overnight?” “Will we miss our connecting flight and have an unexpected layover somewhere else?!”
There are so many possibilities! And as much as it sucks for regular people to have their flights cancelled, I don’t feel bad celebrating. We can’t do anything about the weather. It is what it is, so let’s have some fun.
This is exactly what happened on that fateful day in San Juan. We flew in, and our return flight to Newark cancelled. Then our flights the next day out of Newark cancelled. This left only one flight to be worked, back to Boston on the third day. We happened to be staying in a glorious beach-front hotel for this layover. So, we got to extend and hang out there on a mini vacation. We met up with about 3 other crews and all of us dined, and drank, and even danced. I spent days on the beach working on my tan, ate my fill of mofongo and fish tacos, and even met up with a non-airline person—a friend of a friend who happened to be in town.
It was everything one could hope for when a springtime snow storm is rolling in.
3. Vegas, baby.
I’ve had many a wild night in Vegas (—who hasn’t?), some of which were on work layovers. Thinking about those wild times make me smile since today my Las Vegas layovers consist of working out in the gym, sitting by the pool, long nights of sleeping in a comfy bed, and getting my nose pierced, on one particularly exciting night. Things have changed, fun looks different now, but I have those wild days to look back on.
One particular Las Vegas layover, though, was a doozey. The one I remember most.
“Best hair in the club,” is how it all started. A simple line shouted over loud music, that won me over and changed the whole course of our night. Dudes, take note. A friend and I, out at a club, began chatting with this group of well-dressed men and women, apparently there for work. We played the “Guess What We Do For Work” game and while they did not guess Flight Attendants, we also did not guess correctly. I was certain I’d nailed it when, enthusiastically, I exclaimed “Insurance! You sell insurance!” But alas, I was wrong. It turned out these folks worked for an NHL team (That’s National Hockey League, for you non-sports followers), and a good team at that.
Since they were nice and had cooler jobs than even we did, we moved on to the next club with them. Drai’s—“The Strip’s only rooftop beach club.” Beer pong was played in a cabana with all the friends we’d made and inherited. And the small private pool in said cabana was utilized, no swimsuit, no problem.
To be clear, we weren’t nude. That isn’t allowed there, and even on my wildest nights you wouldn’t catch me skinny dipping in a club full of people. Apparently, not everyone got this memo though.
When it was time to leave the club, I picked up my soaking wet shirt off the ground next to the pool and carried it with me all the way to our hotel. I wore Mr. Best Hair in the Club’s jacket and tried to wring out the water that had soaked into my tiny tank top. It was not until we were in the full light of our hotel’s elevator that my friend noticed something was awry.
“Toni! That’s not your shirt.”
I looked down at the black mass of wet fabric in my hand, apparently for the first time since leaving the club. I saw what she meant. A one-inch-thick gray band rippled through the fabric, emblazoned with the word “Hanes”.
I had stolen someone’s underwear.
I dropped them on the floor, and neither they, nor my shirt was ever seen again. I changed in my room, rode the elevator back down to our lobby to give Mr. Best Hair his jacket back, and we went our separate ways. No, he didn’t stay over. We did, however, meet up for breakfast in the morning in a swanky hotel, and would meet up several more times in different cities. It’s good to have friends with cool jobs.
To this day, the memory of looking down to see that I’d been clutching onto a stranger’s underwear—walking through the club, in an Uber-ride back to the hotel, and through the lobby—makes me laugh. I always wonder if the person noticed they were missing. Whether they had accidentally taken my shirt in lieu of their boxer briefs.
With any luck, they had plenty of undies to spare. And while I may have lost a little black shirt I liked, I gained one of my favorite “What Happens in Vegas” stories of all time.
I don't have photos from THE layover in Vegas. Please accept these other wild Vegas Layover photos instead.
4. Anchorage, Alaska with my bestie
Those of you who follow along here have met my work wife aka bestie, Rachel, in posts like “Girls’ Weekend in Stowe”, “How To Have the Best Bachelorette Party in Glacier National Park” and “Lone Wolf to Bride’s B*tch: Learning How to Friend.”
Rachel is the reason I got an Anchorage layover in the first place. After picking up the trip out of open time (This is the place in our scheduling website where we find trips with open positions, AKA in need of a flight attendant to work them), Rachel realized she didn’t actually want to work the Alaska trip. She just wanted to partake in the layover. She offered the trip to me. And that’s how I ended up working an Anchorage trip and we both ended up with the layover. She met us in Seattle and tagged along for the ride to Anchorage.
This trip was memorable for more than just the amazing stuff we did once we got to Alaska.
First, I was working this trip with a notoriously grumpy male flight attendant. We get along great now, I consider his bark worse than his bite, but nonetheless, he can be a little extra mean. On this trip, an entire drink cart was dropped on his foot. Now, this isn’t funny of course, because we don’t like to laugh at other people’s injuries. Buuuuuuut. Come on, it’s kind of funny.
Also on this trip, I forgot my purse was in one of our galley bins, and the whole bin was taken by catering staff and replaced with a new one. I didn’t notice the issue until we had closed up the plane and were taxiing to takeoff for Anchorage. This was a problem. Not only did this bag contain my keys, wallet, and phone, but it also had important things for work. My ID, my passport, my Flight Attendant Manual (FAM). These are no-go items; you cannot fly without them.
I called the captain immediately and told him what had happened. We had to sit on the runway and wait for the catering truck to drive out to us. They passed the bag to the pilots through an open window in the cockpit, and we were on our way. Phew! Crisis averted.
Guys, this is not an everyday occurrence. This one thing would have been enough excitement to make a trip memorable. And our Anchorage layover hadn’t even started yet.
Once it did start, we did it right. That meant drinks in a local dive bar after getting settled in the hotel. It meant up bright and early the next day to take advantage of our time there. We ate a delicious breakfast at a local café. We rented a car and drove an hour away to get on a boat to see a glacier. We stopped for cheeky pics and fresh spring water on the side of the highway, and once we got the there the glacier tour was chilly and breathtaking. Having been to Glacier National Park this past summer, I can say the glacier we saw in Alaska (Portage Glacier) was far bigger and more impressive. We stopped by a wildlife sanctuary on the way back, where we got to see bears, moose, and other native animals.
This layover was everything I love in a layover. Outdoorsy, adventurous, and shared with my bestie and another awesome flight attendant.
The Bermuda layover was my absolute favorite layover. The hotel—a Fairmont (always nice)—was incredible. The kind of place that you walked into, looked around, and felt like you had arrived just where you belong. Like we had stepped back into a time to when aviation was still glamorous and flight attendants were revered as pseudo-celebrities, or at least “travel influencers”. The Fairmont boasted its own private beach, tennis courts, a golf course, and a beautiful gym and spa (that I only ever used to fill my water bottle.)
Unfortunately, the Fairmont Southampton has been closed since late 2020. The owners decided to take the opportunity to do major renovations while tourism faltered during the Pandemic. As the biggest hotel on the island, this resulted in a loss of 700 jobs, and the hotel is expected to re-open in 2023. When it does, I’m sure it will be just as wonderous as before.
I loved every layover in Bermuda, but the one that I extended into a 2-day mini vacation was probably my favorite. My work trip had a layover of one night in Bermuda and a deadhead back to Boston the next day. (If you’re new here, a “deadhead” means you sit in a seat on the plane, do not have to work, but still get paid because you’re technically on duty.) Sometimes when a trip contains a deadhead, we are able to “Self-Deadhead” or “Self”. This means we don’t take the flight. We choose a different flight to take, or we stay. Either way, we still get paid for our original deadhead flight. Brilliant!
I cancelled my deadhead, booked an additional night at the hotel (at a crewmember discounted rate!) and invited my mom to come on a mini vacay. We spent two days relaxing on the beach, visiting a lighthouse, and eating tasty island treats. I drank a rum swizzle or two, and we soaked in all the Bermudian charm we could.
This place always felt good to visit. It was just extra-long, and therefore extra good, this one time.
6. THE San Diego trip
I have fun on every San Diego layover. I have had more memorable layovers in San Diego than nearly any other city. I’ve gone to the beach, hiked several different beautiful trails, danced my ass off in dive bars and gay bars, I’ve gone on several dates there, and I’ve eaten my weight in fish tacos. There is a reason it’s called “America’s Favorite City”.
But the San Diego I remember most is the one I did with my bestie, Rachel. The one that started out innocently enough but took a Vegas-esque turn of events. We made friends, drank our way around town, and ended up with a story so scandalous I can’t even write it here. It will forever be one of my biggest SMH moments and will always make me laugh. Maybe someday I’ll tell the story in a book, with names changed to protect the innocent.
(Who are we kidding, there are no innocent parties here.)
Please enjoy some of these pics of other, more Kosher San Diego layovers. And if you’d like my recommendations for things to do in SAN, check out this post: Staying Classy in San Diego.
The only picture of THE San Diego Layover. But I've had so many good layovers there I can't even count them.
7. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Your crew makes all the difference in the world. And the guys I worked with on this SDQ trip were all-stars.
With a 3am arrival into Santo Domingo, I didn’t expect much in the way of fun. But my crew was not about to give up so easily. “Pack clothes and change quickly. We’re going out,” they said. I was taken to a night club that was unlike any other place I’d been. To this day, it remains my best night club experience ever.
The boys bought a bottle, and we ordered hookah. The music was loud, and the crowd hyped, at 4am. Then a parade of masked “villains” emerged onto stages that jutted out into the dancefloor. Dozens of them. They wore all black, with white masks. It was kind of cool, but borderline creepy. It put me on edge for a moment until I realized it was all part of the show. And then the show really started. Fire.
They shot flames from what looked like guns. An elaborate, urban fire show emerged from seemingly out of nowhere. It was incredible. Some of these performers were lifted off the ground, did acrobatics hanging from the ceiling. Confetti spewed from the sky. It was CRAZY. The whole choreographed, terrifying and exciting thing.
But it wasn’t just the show, the crowd, the drinks, the smoke, that impressed me. It was the treatment, too. I got to feel like a mini celebrity at this club, and on the layover. The boys bought the bottle, wouldn’t allow me to chip in. When I had to use the restroom, they asked in Spanish for one of the employees to walk me there. He did, and to my shock, he was waiting outside for me when I was ready to go back to our place at the bar. The following day, a man held an umbrella over my head as I exited the Uber at a restaurant. This is not something I’m used to.
At home, my independent streak in full force, I have trouble asking for help with things that truly require help. Moving a queen-sized mattress up two flights of stairs, for example. (Some might call my independence toxic, and I take it on in this post if you’d like to check it out.) But in Santo Domingo on my layover, I allowed myself to be taken care of, whisked away, orders to be placed on my behalf. And it was relaxing, fun, and wonderful.
Possibly the best part of the entire trip was the breakfast
After closing down the club at 7:30 am, we all headed out for a big, hearty breakfast of mangu, eggs, and pina coladas. It was the perfect way to end one of my funnest layover nights ever.
8. Seattle, Washington
When I first came back to work after four months off during the Pandemic, I was working a lot of Seattle trips. I documented some of my layover adventures in this post: Quick Trip to Seattle: #Layoverlife is NOT Dead.
In truth there was not one favorite Seattle layover, because Seattle quickly became one of my favorite layover cities. I was there for 30 hours, 48, 50 hours at a time. Once I visited Mt. Rainier with my amazing crew. Once my mom tagged along and we hit up Discovery Park, Pike’s Place Market, and Tacoma. And we ate our faces off. Another time, I rented a car and hiked Rattlesnake Ledge (did not see any snakes) and Snoqualmie Falls solo, and also got rear-ended in my rental. That part was not fun, but man I cannot tell you how much I enjoy my time in Seattle. It earns a spot here because all my Seattle layovers are in the “best layover” category.
I have had two Cancun layovers now and thoroughly enjoyed them both. Part of the reason is that I LOVE the hotel so much. The rooms are spacious and luxurious and they make me want to move in and never leave. The other reason is I have worked with amazing unicorn crews on my Cancun trips.
One Cancun trip I documented in my post: How to Have the Perfect 24-Hour Layover in Cancun.
This was the one in which Laurette and I took the ferry to Isla Mujeres and had ourselves a day. Sunning, swimming, shopping, and yes, EATING. There was also some dancing thrown in there, if I’m not mistaken. If you want more info, be sure to check out that post.
Last week I had a second Cancun layover which was less active– we stayed at the resort instead of hopping a ferry– but still fun as hell. My whole crew- pilots included- hung out at the beach, sipping drinks and getting to know each other better. We strolled around the tourist area, full to the gills with Spring Breakers, and marveled at the lights and the noise. The six of us ate dinner together, and then my flight attendant crew and I had stopped by another bar for a night cap (virgin for me.) It was a pretty simple layover, but as I’ve said one million times, the crew makes a trip.
And so does the hotel 😉
And that’s it, folx. My Top 9 layovers of all time.
Sure, I could have done a Top 10, but everything can’t be my favorite. And right now, with the way the industry is going, I’m lucky to have 9 favorites.
If you have any questions about the cities I’ve mentioned, if you have a layover coming up and want some recommendations, or if you think I look soooo fun and want to bid for trips together in the future, just let me know in the comments or @ me on instagram. If you guys would like to see more layover posts- those things to do, places to eat, an itinerary for a short trip- then let me know that, too! FA friends: What are your favorite layovers? And why? I love to hear when someone has different picks than me.
Have a great weekend everybody. And when the job gets tough, think about those Top 9 Layovers of your own. It helps.
I am sitting here sitting coffee and reading this, cackling so hard you’d think there was some Baileys in my cuppa joe.
If you told me that Vegas story I’d forgotten it. I am DEAD over the mental image of that moment in the elevator.
Speaking of Vegas, maybe you should write a post about unscheduled layovers, and how to make the best of them…. 😉
I found myself laughing equally loud reminiscing about all the snafus on the flight to ANK, and then feeling guilty when you mentioned not laughing at someone else’s pain, and then relieved again when you mentioned that it was kind of funny.
Such a great post. I found myself thinking back about some of my glorious layovers in some of the spots you posted.
I would add Austin to this list, despite the layovers sometimes not being the most ideal times. I always manage to have a fantastic time in ATX, whether it’s enjoying the walking path along the lake or hitting up Rainy Street.
Thanks for the fun read, Tone!
Austin is great too! I’ve had some really fun times there. Looking forward to going back (when our trips get better…?)
Also, I totally forgot about you and Lance meeting up in SJU! I loved that two of my besties were so down to meet up and have fun with a near stranger. ❤️
Yes that one was SO fun!!