I wanted an inside scoop on flying with kids, so enlisted Vanessa, a 12 year veteran flight attendant to share her expertise. Her husband, Brian, is a pilot (how cute is that?!) and they have traveled all over the world together. Here is what she told me:
On having her dream job: I really can’t believe I’ve been at it this long but I also can’t imagine doing anything else. I absolutely LOVE my job (most days ha ha!) and it’s been incredibly rewarding in so many ways. It’s allowed me to meet my amazing husband (who’s a pilot), make many wonderful friends, travel all over the world and earn a good living. What more could I ask for? I’m a very energetic and extroverted person and thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and making their traveling experiences positive and memorable. I believe that you can leave a lasting impression, and even a simple smile or a “hello” might make someone’s day a little brighter or help a nervous flyer feel more comfortable. I engage with as many people as I can and I truly believe they appreciate that. I want the passengers on my flights to have a great experience and to be eager to come back and fly with us at Frontier.
Perks of the job: Some of the things I like best about my job are my coworkers (we have an incredible group of flight attendants and pilots who genuinely care about each other and who look out for one another), traveling to many different cities and staying at nice hotels, meeting interesting people from all walks of life, and of course, the flight benefits! One of the greatest perks of being a flight attendant is that we fly for free, anywhere in the United States, on almost every airline! And for international travel, we pay a fraction of the cost compared to what the general public pays. We do fly standby, meaning we don’t have a confirmed seat until shortly before the flight leaves, but, we have access to the loads so we can see how many passengers are booked on any given flight, and we can plan accordingly. Being able to hop on a flight virtually whenever and wherever you want is AWESOME!!! I take full advantage of my flight benefits, and as a result, I’ve traveled across the United States and to many different countries as well.
Avoiding getting sick on flights: Many people, including my fellow flight attendants, often get sick while at work. And it doesn’t help that passengers get on the airplane with their “crud.” It floats around the cabin and everyone is exposed to it. Yuck! Let’s face it, an airplane is one of the most germ-infested places on the planet and it’s extremely difficult to keep those germs at bay. I’ve been fortunate in that I rarely get sick (knock on wood!). But I do make a conscious effort to NOT get sick. Some of the things that work for me include drinking a ton of water before and during flights. It flushes the “bad stuff” out of of your system and keeps you feeling fresh and hydrated. I also wash my hands constantly, not just on the airplane, but away from work as well. There’s obviously no way to avoid germs altogether, but drinking water and scrubbing your hands with warm, soapy water definitely helps. I also try to eat healthy food, especially when I’m working. I bring all my own food when I fly so I have control over what and when I eat. Healthy eating when traveling is much better for your body! Airport food is overpriced, unhealthy and generally disappointing, in my opinion.
Tips for parents flying with kids: BE PREPARED! Pack plenty of water and healthy snacks for your kids, along with antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer (as a backup when you can’t wash your hands) and Emergen-C. Use wipes to clean seats, armrests, tray tables and your hands when you get on the airplane and remind your kids to keep their fingers out of their mouths during the flight! Think of all those germs they’re putting in there! Scary!
Avoid using airplane bathrooms: One other suggestion I have is to make sure your kids get plenty of sleep the night before (or even better, two nights before) a flight. Often times, you’re up way too late prior to traveling and end up getting only a few hours of sleep. Try your hardest to have all bags packed and ready TWO DAYS before your trip if at all possible. Then you can all get a good night’s rest and won’t have to be rushing around at the last minute. Lack of sleep is also a contributor to getting sick while traveling. Also, be sure to take your kids to the bathroom BEFORE getting on the airplane. The restrooms on the concourses are much more spacious than the tiny, dirty, germ-infested lavatories on the plane.
Activities are key: I would encourage parents to give each child his/her own backpack filled with books, toys, games, coloring books, crayons, healthy snacks, wipes, and a bottle of water. That will keep them occupied during the flight and will give them plenty of options, too. If you have small children, make sure and come prepared with milk, formula, diapers and other essentials for your baby. At Frontier, we don’t have milk on the airplane, so you’d be out of luck. And while it may seem obvious, change your baby’s diaper on the changing table in the lavatory NOT on the seat or heaven forbid, the tray table! (It happens more often than you’d think).
Board first: Another suggestion to make traveling less stressful for families is to board the flight first. As far as I know, most every airline offers the opportunity to do that. You can take your time getting settled rather than boarding with the other passengers, which will make for a more pleasant and relaxing experience.
Best place to sit on the plane with kids: I would say in the back row or as close to the back as possible. You’ll be close to the restrooms and flight attendant galley if you need anything during the flight. Also, if your kids get fussy or unruly, you’ll be out of the way of the other passengers. The second option would be in the first few rows for the same reasons.
Free perks while traveling with kids: One of the coolest things, in my opinion, is to take a photo of your child in the flight deck with the controls, buttons, lights, etc. all around them. When you get on the airplane, just ask the flight attendant and we will check with the pilots. Almost all the time, it’s no problem and the pilots welcome the kids to sit in their seat while the parents snap away!
We also give out Frontier Airlines trading cards to kids and anyone else who would like one. We have a different animal on each of our airplane tails, so they can collect the cards every time they fly with us.
Some airlines offer plastic wings, similar to what the pilots and flight attendants wear. Ask at the gate or when you get on board if the airline has wings available. They are a special keepsake for kids, especially first-time flyers. You can also print off a “First Flight” certificate from the internet which is a great memory.