6 Flight Attendant Hacks That Will Solve All Your (Travel) Problems
Flight Attendants spend as much time in airplanes and hotels as we do in our own homes. And when you spend this much time on the go, you pick up tips and tricks along the way. Today I’m sharing some flight attendant hacks for travel that are simple but crazy useful.
I won’t be telling you about credit card points or when to find the best deal on flights. (I have no idea.) Instead, I’ll be telling you the little flight attendant secrets for use in hotels and on the airplane that will make your traveling life easier.
Without further ado, here we go.
Flight Attendant Hacks for Hotels
1. Best Light-Blocking Hack for Hotel Rooms
Problem: Too Much Light, Not Enough Sleep
Flight attendants sleep at all hours of the day and night, and often for only a few precious hours at a time. Because we’re usually short on sleep, we must ensure those hours spent resting are well spent. Whether it is broad daylight and you’re trying to get in a post-redeye nap, or it is the evening and a maddeningly-placed streetlight is shining through the crack in your curtains, light in any form can hinder your sleep.
It feels like no matter the hotel, and no matter how neatly the curtains fit together, there is always a gap that lets in some light. Even when the fabric overlaps, there remains a tiny crack. Only a sliver of light can fit through, but when you’re trying to get some shut-eye, it seems the beams magnify and fill the room.
The Solution: Clip it
To mitigate this light situation, we flight attendants have been utilizing a neat little travel hack. So simple, yet so effective. Just use a clip hangar from the closet to clip the two sides of the curtain together along the gap. Tall window? Use two hangars. This will keep out a significant amount of light and allow you to sleep soundly.
And speaking of light…
Clip it for a dark and cozy slumber.
2. Low Light for a Good Night
Problem: The annoyingly bright LED light on the alarm clock
Solution: Dim it!
Did you know that the light on the alarm clock in your hotel room—yes, that annoyingly bright LED light—is dimmable? If you did, then move it along. But before I made it my business to spend half my life in hotels, I did not know this secret.
The snooze button on the alarm clock doubles as a dimmer. This is true for almost every alarm clock I have come across in my years as a flight attendant. If you find one of those old school, red-numbered digital alarm clocks from the 90s, then go ahead and question your ability to choose hotels, and maybe delegate that task to someone else next time.
Most hotel alarm clock displays will dim more with each press of the snooze button until finally it turns off completely. Ahhhh, is there anything better than a black void to sleep in?
Flight Attendant Hacks on the Plane
3. The Perfect Cleanup for Spills & Stains
The Problem: A Spill or Stain on your clothes
Solution: The wonders of the maxi pad
I know what you’re all thinking. Has she finally lost it? But just hear me out. Maxi pads can be found in the lavatory in most planes, and they are wonderful, useful tools. Spill some red wine on your shirt, or drop food on your slacks, and you’re probably dinging your call button for a club soda and napkin to try to blot it out. First of all, I don’t condone call button usage for non-emergencies. And secondly, you’re using a flawed method. You see, the napkin or paper towel is bound to shred and pill, leaving white particles all over your garment. And if you’re wearing a dark color, this can be worse than the original stain you were trying to clean.
There is a better way.
Maxi pads are durable enough to hold the seltzer and wipe out the stain without leaving any of its fibers behind on your clothes. You might feel silly rubbing a pad on your leg, but that avocado smudge will disappear, and you’ll be left one happy camper.
We flight attendants also use maxi pads to clean up spills in the galley. They’re far more absorbent than paper towels. We stick them on the bottom of our shoes and skate across the galley. Voila! No more spill.
I'm telling you this works.
Not gonna lie, this is kind of a fun way to clean up spills.
4. Blot it Out
The Problem: Slick, Oily Skin from a long day of travel
Feeling a little slick after three hours in the air? Is your forehead what made the Weeknd “Blinded by the lights”? If your skin gets oily on the go, I have got the PERFECT solution. And best of all, you can find it almost anywhere.
The Solution: Mattify…with toilet seat covers.
You know those thin papery toilet seat covers in the dispensers in public bathrooms? Well, they happen to make perfect oil blotting sheets. In my youth, I carried those Clean & Clear oil blotting sheets in my purse. A mid-thirty-something, my skin is more combination and less greasy, but I can still get shiny after a few hours on the plane. And despite what the kids tell me about “dewy” skin being “in”, I’m all set with showing off my excess oils.
On those days when I do feel extra shiny—whether from an almost-late jog to the gate, a broken APU (no air conditioning) or good old-fashioned hormones—I reach for a toilet seat cover, and it works like a charm. Simply open it up and press the paper against your face. Don’t use the portion that has been exposed to the bathroom. Cause, ew. If possible, I recommend pulling the full sheet out and using the inside—the side that was folded on itself.
Thank me later!
These seat covers are oil-blotting wonders!
5. Flight Attendant Hack for Dry Skin & Lips
The Problem: Dry, flaky winter lips. Yuck.
Winter is upon us and if you live in the northern half of the country this means extremely dry hands and chapped lips. Woof. Everyone knows that lip balms are notorious for disappearing. It is a celebratory event if you make it to the end of the tube. If you lose your lip balm on the airplane, or realize you’ve forgotten it at home, fear not. There is something on the airplane to help you out.
The Solution: Antibiotic Ointment
We keep kits on the airplane with supplies for basic maladies—pain reliever, antacid, bandages, and antibiotic ointment. These little packets of antibiotic ointment (Generic Neosporin, bacitracin, or Aquaphor) are a life saver if you have forgotten or lost your lip balm. Simply open up the packet and use your (clean) finger to swipe some over your lips. Don’t put it on before eating and avoid licking your lips afterward. This is not an edible substance. However, as anyone who has ever had cracked or flaking lips can attest, something is better than nothing.
This ointment can also take the place of hand moisturizer, if your hands are the dry & crackling problem. But avoid touching anything for a bit while it sets, it’s a pretty greasy substance.
Obviously, you should bring your own lotion and lip balm when you travel. But things happen, and it is easy to lose or forget these small items. If you’re in need of some moisture, simply ask your flight attendant for an antibiotic ointment packet. (Say “You know, the stuff to put on a cut before a Bandaid,” if they look confused.)
This will save your chapped lips in a pinch. But try not to eat it!
6. Say goodbye to frozen food
The Problem: Frozen Food in the Hotel Mini fridge
Nothing boils my blood like losing my fresh ORGANIC produce to an overzealous hotel refrigerator.
For some reason, these mini fridges are difficult to control and get to unspeakable levels of cold. It is as if they have something to prove: “I may be small, but I can ruin your whole fucking day.”
Put some celery sticks, a nice spinach salad in there and see what happens. Frostbitten by morning and waterlogged as soon as they thaw. It’s terrible. I’ve lost pounds of food over the years to the mini fridge deep freeze—fruit, vegetables, eggs, and hummus. And when you are hungry and far from home, this is SO upsetting.
The Solution: Wrap it Up
My friend Meagaan, a fellow flight attendant, taught me a trick to combat this nasty process, and I’m going to share it with all of you.
FIRST: If your hotel refrigerator has a dial or button to control the temperature, then use it. For food, a medium cold setting on your refrigerator will keep it from going bad, and hopefully won’t put you in danger of the deep freeze. Think level 3 out of 6.
But even if you *think* you can control the temperature, you should still do this next step as a precaution. There are no guarantees in the wild wild west of mini fridges.
Second: To keep your vegetables, fruit, and dips from turning into the worst kind of popsicle, simply wrap them in towels. When I am unpacking my lunch box after arriving at a hotel, I separate the food items that need to be wrapped. Leafy greens, celery, carrots, cucumbers, berries—basically all raw vegetables and fruits. Depending on how much food needs to be wrapped, I gather 1-2 hand towels from the bathroom, and then I wrap the food containers in towels. This helps to insulate the food, and (hopefully) keep it from freezing.
I don’t think this is a problem you need me to solve, but if you are wondering what to dry your hands on now that you’ve used all the hand towels in the fridge (now that you’ve stuffed all the hand towels inside your fridge), I recommend a washcloth or your bath towel.
Make sure all these goodies don't freeze by wrapping them in a towel.
And there you have it, folx. Six Flight Attendant Hacks we ALL use on layovers. And hacks that you can use in your travels. Spills, skin woes, sunlight, and even the deep freeze of a mini fridge won’t get you down if you follow these flight attendant-approved tips.
Flight attendants and frequent travelers: What are YOUR best travel hacks? Share with the class!
Wishing you a happy weekend and hoping you have a good excuse to use these travel hacks in the not-too-distant future.