Emirates flight attendant shares 10 travel hacks

Get a first class experience on a coach budget! Flight attendant reveals ten luxury travel hacks to help YOU get the most from your flight – from ALWAYS ordering a special-request meal to trading treats for champagne

  • Caroline Kneitz, 34, spent six years working as a flight attendant for Emirates
  • She picked up a spread of insider tips to upgrade the flight experience
  • Order a special meal and you will be served before anyone else, she says
  • Offering the cabin crew treats in return for champagne is another of her tips 

Ever pondered how you could make your next flight comfier – without having to shell out thousands of dollars for business or first class seats? 

Well, Caroline Kneitz, 34, spent six years working as an Emirates flight attendant and during that time she picked up a slew of insider tips on how to turn an economy ride into a more premium experience. 

The globetrotting pro, who is originally from the Netherlands and currently based in Dubai, covers all areas, from food and beverage services to sound proofing woes to luggage allowances, in a bid make the travel experience smoother.

Read on for Caroline’s favorite travel hacks, as shared with FEMAIL… 

Caroline Kneitz, 34, spent six years working as an Emirates flight attendant and during that time she picked up a spread of insider tips

1. Bring the crew treats to get first class treatment

‘While you’re in the airport, stock up on lots of candy for the crew as this will go a long way. When I have flown for leisure and not for work with other airlines I have done this and I have always received first class treatment as a result. 

‘Once when I flew from Amsterdam to Frankfurt they poured me several glasses of very expensive champagne, despite the fact I was sitting in economy. This was because I gifted them a bag of gummy bears while I was boarding.’ 

2. Bring your own food and ask for it to be heated up 

‘When it comes to heating up passenger food this depends on airline policy but I often did this for people who bought their own food. This was good for us because it meant we had extra meals left over and more choice for other passengers. After the main meal service is completed the ovens are cleared out, they are then free for the crew to use and warm other things up.’

Caroline, pictured here while working as a flight attendant, recommends taking a pillow case while flying and stuffing it with smaller pillows to make one big one  

3. Order a special meal for quicker service 

‘If you’re sticking to plane food and want your food served early, then all you need to do is order a special meal such as vegan or Kosher. This is because special meals, which have to pre-ordered in advance, are always dished out first. If you’re on a night flight getting your meal earlier is particularly useful as you can get to sleep quicker.’

4. Ask for doubles if you enjoy drinking

‘If you fancy getting a little bit merry on your flight, ask for doubles immediately when the drinks trolley comes around. The cabin crew will not judge you and will actually prefer it if you do stock up there and then as they will only have run back when you press the call bell later. When it comes to earning extra brownie points with the inflight crew, always visit them in the galley instead of pressing the call bell as the constant ‘dinging’ can prove particularly annoying.’ 

If you fancy getting a little bit jolly on your flight, Caroline recommends asking for doubles ‘immediately’ when the drinks trolley comes around

5. Check in via an app so your hand luggage isn’t weighed

‘My top tip when it comes to luggage is to always check in online or via an app before heading to the airport. If you go to a counter at the airport it is likely that they will check the size of your hand luggage and weigh it. If you are traveling with hand luggage only this is particularly annoying as it’s likely that it might be a little overweight. 

‘If you check in before the airport, you can waltz straight through security and to the gate, where it is very unlikely a staff member will weigh the bag. That is unless you’re flying with a super budget airline.’ 

6. Bring a pillow case to make your own pillow 

‘Pillows on planes are always small and pretty inadequate unless you are in business or first class. If you want a premium experience, bring a full-size pillow case and stuff it with extra airline pillows or blankets to make one big pillow. This really does offer ultimate comfort and one of my favorite hacks.’ 

Take your own full-size pillow case on the flight and stuff it with smaller pillows, Caroline says

7. Bring your own cleaning products to be extra safe 

‘Bring disinfectant wipes to rub over your table, seatbelt, remote and screen. I don’t need to explain why and I’m a bit OCD when it comes to cleanliness. Sometimes the aircraft have to be turned around so quickly that it’s not possible to do a proper deep clean. 

‘On some flights I’ve been on, I have found crumbs on my seat, trash from the last customer in the seat pocket and the toilets have not been attended to. As I am extra cautious I take my blanket and use it as a protective sheet to cover my seat. I then ask for another one to put over me.’

8. Noise-canceling headphones are a game changer 

‘Have you ever been on a plane with screaming babies or snoring passengers? Normal headphones won’t be able to drown these sounds out but noise-canceling headphones are a game-changer. It really will make a difference to your flight experience. 

‘Also the over-ear ones won’t fall off as you asleep. I was once operating a 13 hour to New York and there was a baby on that flight that cried literally from take off until touch down. I was handing out earplugs until I ran out.’

The travel pro says over ear noise cancelling headphones are a game-changer 

9. Create your own spa in the sky

‘If you’re on long haul why not spend an hour or two pampering yourself? The pressurized air on planes is very dry, so it’s important to keep your skin as hydrated as possible. I love to travel with face sheets as they’re not as messy as face masks. 

‘If you slap one of these on your face while you are watching a movie it will help to lock in moisture. Just warn your neighbor you are popping on one as you might give them quite a fright! I also like to wear sunscreen when I fly as some experts say flying can cause skin damage due to UVA rays. However, some studies have dispelled this belief.’ 

10. Book an emergency seat to stretch your legs – but to be safest book aft left

‘As frequent flyers know, the emergency exit seats offer maximum leg room in economy but it comes down to personal preference. I often find these seats annoying because there is nowhere to store your small bags and you have to put them in the overhead lockers. If you sit by the wings you will experience less turbulence, as this is the most stable section of the plane. 

‘If you’re looking for the safest place to sit, this will be on the left hand side at the back of the plane or aft left. We were taught as cabin crew that this area provides the least risk in the event of an explosion or crash. That is also where crew would place a bomb if we found it on the plane in-flight because if it exploded it would cause the least damage.’

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