Summer travel behind the scenes.

Full airplane

Being an avid traveler means you raise avid travelers.  I went to pick up my daughter from one of her summer trips recently and was amazed at the number of travelers at the airport.  Being in the field of travel, I was aware of the increase in travel recently.  However, I was not prepared for the actual realities. Many of my friends who are still in the flying business have been discussing the many travel issues they have seen this summer.  Here are a few ideas that have been shared by my friends who are in the business of flying.

Firstly, if you are flying anywhere this month on any airline, pack snacks and PB&Js. Carry a refillable water container, a portable charger for your phone, a deck of cards, or UNO.  Download extra movies on your iPad or kindle.  Whether you have wireless headsets, also bring the old-school plug-in type.  Carry a light blanket. Go to the airport one extra hour earlier than you would have. Bring your patience and a mask. If you must travel with kids, go to Dollar Store or Walmart, and buy new toys your kids have never seen, give them these during the inevitable delays. You can also purchase blow-up arm floaties to use a pillow or lumbar support for your back.  A small portable fan or paper fan will help, especially during these hot summer months. Finally, pack a tennis ball to help massage your aches.

Airlines no longer supply pillows or blankets.  Since Covid, there is usually no food onboard to buy or give, and there are not enough beverages for flight attendants to serve second requests for drinks.  Fill your water bottle in the airport or buy a bottle of water or drink in the airport. There is not enough bottled water on board for flight attendants to refill your container, nor are they allowed to fill it for sanitary reasons.

If you are booked on the last flight of the day, be prepared that you might end up spending the night in the airport.  Do not check your medicine or keys in your luggage.  Carry a Pen!! You may have to fill out forms or need to write down information.

I was an international flight attendant for over 23 years, and I have NEVER seen it this crazy! Every airline is short-staffed, gate agents are working alone at gates for oversold flights, the wait times to get through to reservations are 3+ hours. Restaurants and stores can’t get people to work. Super long lines everywhere. LOTS of mechanical issues, weather, staffing issues, none of which is due to frontline airline employees. They are as frustrated as you are. They are EXHAUSTED! These travel realities have been happening to them every day for over a month, with no relief in sight.

Therefore, I am asking you to BE VERY KIND TO EVERYONE, especially your flight crew. It’s always appreciated. Always bring treats, whatever they may be, to the agents and flight attendants. They’re human also and live this travel nightmare every day, not just once a year.

Have you traveled lately? I hope these realities have opened your mind and that you be kind and travel well this summer.  Let me know.

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Donna Hunter, PhD


  1. Chandra Marshall on 07/07/2021 at 7:29 PM

    Very true!! I traveled last week and the delays were crazy! A family was going through security and literally turned on each other and had to be pulled apart. Not one TSA agent or airport police intervened. Travelers just looked on in dismay! What a great idea to bring a treat for the gate agent! I’ll be booking another trip for September. Pray for me because prices are through the floor these days!

    • Donna Hunter, PhD on 07/10/2021 at 9:07 AM

      Yes indeed, travel has rebounded much more than expected. The airlines of course are taking advantage and it’s much harder to find flight deals now. Keep looking however, deals are still out there.

  2. Toni on 07/18/2021 at 4:06 PM

    These are all helpful tips because we’ve experienced longer lines, cancellations and delays on all of our trips taken since April. Thankfully I carry a backpack with goodies that include a power bank, games and something to read. The tennis ball is something I’ll also add to the list. Thanks

    • Donna Hunter, PhD on 07/18/2021 at 7:23 PM

      That tennis ball is so easy to carry and so useful. For long haul flights just leaning back on it or sitting on it can give tremendous relief.

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