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The Street
The Street
Veronika Bondarenko

A Flight Attendant Reveals the Best Time to Fly And What Not to Bring Aboard

For the second year in a row, people passing through many popular airports are seeing chaos worthy of an apocalyptic movie.

A combination of pent-up pandemic demand and an industry-wide staffing shortage have brought with them crowds as well as rooms full of suitcases separated from their owners and check-in lines that in some cases trail outside the airport. 

DON'T MISS: Many Airlines Will Be Flying Higher To Avoid In-Air Traffic

Amid the travel chaos, many people have been sharing tricks and "hacks" for minimizing problems at the airport -- along with the age-old wisdom of traveling on a weekday and dressing in a way that will not set off security alarms, some swear by booking flights at a given time or shipping luggage to one's destination ahead of time.

Image source: Shutterstock

To Minimize You Chance Of Delays, Take This One Flight

"The first flight of the day will always be your best bet for a few reasons," Lisa Kulpa, who works as a flight attendant with a major commercial airline, recently told airline industry website The Points Guy. "[...] Flights later in the day also have a greater chance of delays due to weather, maintenance and delays getting in and out of gates, which pushes back the entire flight schedule day."

Also behind the Basic Travel Couple blog with her partner Dave, Kulpa keeps the name of her workplace private in order to not make it seem like her "travel hacks" are official recommendations from the airline.

Another one of Kulpa's time-saving tips is to plan to be at the gate (not at the airport but already past security and seated at the gate!) at least an hour before one's scheduled departure -- while  conventional wisdom used to be two hours for an international flight, the record-breaking traffic airports are seeing now could cause check-in or security delays that lead to a missed flight.

The same goes for connections as tight layovers in another city that one may have gotten away with during a less busy period are now increasingly riskier. 

'Every Airline Is Struggling With Staffing And Uncontrollable Factors'

"Every airline is struggling with staffing and the uncontrollable factors mentioned previously," Kulpa told the Points Guy. "If you cannot fly direct and have to have a connection, I would say at least two hours is going to be your best bet for travel time for connections. This gives you flexibility for delays on either end."

Another tip is to avoid reaching out to the airline's call line whenever possible. Due to a shortage of staff, many airlines have made it easier to rebook and cancel flights directly on their website (previously, this was only possible for higher-class tickets) while FlightAware often has real-time information about each plane's whereabouts faster than the airline will typically update its website.

And Kulpa's biggest tip is to just "be nice" to flight attendants — many are dealing with very similar stressors on top of an increase in passengers who are abusive or event violent toward flight crew.

"We are more willing to help you if you are nice, and there really is no need to be rude," she said. "We know you are upset about XYZ and missing whatever event. However, we don't purposely delay and cancel your flight to ruin your trip. Things happen. If you absolutely have to be somewhere, fly out the day before to give yourself enough time to be flexible and not stress."


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