Insider travel tips from Etihad flight attendants

Eight flight attendants share their best advice for packing carry-on and checked luggage, in-flight skincare, and how to have a comfortable long-haul flight in any cabin class.

After hours spent in a bustling airport waiting to board a flight, it’s easy to think that all the stress and discomfort of the day is over once seated on the plane. However, long-haul flights pose their own set of challenges, and no one knows the key to overcoming such challenges better than flight attendants. We consulted eight members of Etihad’s cabin crew to get their expert tips and advice on how to have a worry-free flight. 

etihad plane in the sky
© Etihad

How to have a comfortable flight in any cabin class

Wear the right clothing
For long-haul flights in particular, the Etihad cabin crew recommend steering away from items such as jeans and tight clothing, for the simple fact that bodies naturally swell when flying, which may cause discomfort. With turbulence also a factor during transit, Etihad does not recommend wearing high heels, to minimise the risk of potential injury. “Wear comfortable, loose, and breathable clothes that will make it easier for you to relax,” says Lieche Termia.

Choose a window seat
The key to getting decent sleep on a long-haul flight is choosing your seat wisely, says Lieche. “Personally, I always opt for a window seat because it provides something solid to lean against and minimises disruptions from other guests. My top three tips for dealing with long flights would be to stay hydrated, keep active and stretch, and take walks around the cabin when possible to help promote blood circulation and reduce the risk of swelling in legs and feet. Bring other forms of entertainment to keep yourself occupied, like a book.”

Don’t forget an eye mask
“To fall asleep on a long-haul Etihad flight I drink a chamomile tea, put on my eye shades and listen to an audio book until I fall asleep, cozily tucked in my blanket,” says Isabell Hofmann.  Eye shades seem to be a recurring theme, as Erin Louise Gibson also taps them as a flight essential. “I recommend an eye mask, which Etihad provides for ultra-long-haul flights, comfy socks, a water bottle for hydration, hand lotion and some extra snacks for the movies onboard,” says Erin. 

Flight attendants Lieche Termia; Erin Louise, Camile Anne Patalinjug, Claire Louise Smallhorn.
Left to right: Lieche Termia, business class crew, South Africa; Erin Louise, economy crew, Britain; Camile Anne Patalinjug, business class crew, Philippines; Claire Louise Smallhorn, business class crew, Australia.

Flight attendant tips for nervous flyers

“If you’re a nervous flyer, getting comfortable and familiarising yourself with the surroundings is a good starting place to calm your nerves. As cabin crew, we fly many times each month and we are with you every step of the way. So ask us for anything you need or any questions you may have. We are happy to explain anything to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Pick your favourite movies and focus on this through the flight,” says Erin. 

Flight attendant Insider knowledge: 

  • For those looking for extra legroom, opt for an aisle seat to stretch your legs or the exit rows as they have the most leg space.
  • Try to put your carry-on and belongings in the overhead compartment closest to your seat for easy access and departure from the aircraft.
  • While we do have cleaners that clean the aircraft (including seats and tray tables) between each flight, it’s a personal preference if you would like to go the extra step and sanitise your tray table.

Packing tips for carry-on and checked baggage

“My top three tips for packing efficiently would be to only pack the essentials, choose your outfits before the trip to avoid bringing unnecessary clothes with you, and packing cubes are your best friend!” says Camile Anne Patalinjug. “Aside from the obvious essentials, I would also recommend bringing a reusable water bottle – it always comes in handy.”

Lieche adds that being organised with your packing is important. “When it comes to packing, I’d recommend formulating a list and dividing your belongings into categories such as clothing, toiletries, and electronics. Be sure to also use packing cubes and compression bags to save as much space as possible. Erin Adds, “for your carry-on, always make sure to carry your documents in a pouch or wallet to keep them together.”

Flight attendants Brooke Louise Jeffery, Emma Ashlen Marino, Isabell, Muhhamed Said.
Clockwise from top left: Brooke Louise Jeffery, business class crew, Australia. Emma Ashlen Marino, business class crew, Australia. Isabell, business class crew, Germany. Muhhamed Said, economy crew, Turkey.

Flight attendant tips and advice for skincare

Prioritise hydration
Emma Ashlen Marino, recommends drinking plenty of water during a flight and avoiding using any skincare products that can dry skin out. “I use a hydrating serum from The Ordinary, followed by a vitamin C brightening moisturiser, and sunscreen. Throughout the flight, when my skin starts to feel dry, I find that a refreshing and uplifting facial mist is great to restore balance to the skin, as well as lip balms containing peptides,” says Emma. 

Wear SPF
A twice-weekly hydrating mask is a non-negotiable for Brooke Louise Jeffery. “I use a TriDration B Hydrating Mask from Australian skincare company, Synergie Skin, twice a week. As I need to wear makeup throughout my flights, I always ensure that I double cleanse with Synergie Skin’s UltraCleanse cleanser, and keep my skin moisturised and makeup free where possible,” says Brooke. “A common misconception that I’d like to set the record straight on, is that you should still wear sunscreen when travelling on an aircraft, as you are still exposed to UV rays!”

Try a mask
To maintain as much moisture in her skin as possible, Claire Louise Smallhorn, keeps liquids up with water and herbal tea but limits the consumption of beverages such as coffee and other caffeinated products, salty or sugary foods. “Post shift, I double cleanse and follow with a serum and oil to bring hydration back into my skin. My favourites include Much Plumper Skin and Face Hero from Go-To Skincare, as well as Aesop’s Fabulous Face Oil,” says Claire. “For extra hydration during the week, I’m loving The Repair Shop mask by Go-To, and I apply this when arriving at a hotel after my shift.” 

Opt for travel size
Muhammed loves travel-size products for travelling light. “My favourite skincare products to take when travelling are all travel size, and include a foaming gel, face mask and – of course – vitamin C serum to hydrate after flying. Sunscreen is important too!” says Muhammed Said.

etihad business class cabin
Business class cabin. © Etihad

The best time to go to the bathroom on a flight

The Etihad cabin crew says the best time to head to the bathroom is at the start of your flight, just after you’re advised to take off your seatbelts. “This way, there won’t be a line-up and you’ll be one of the first to use it.” 

How to be a fantastic passenger, according to a flight attendant

  • Don’t be afraid to say hello and have a chat. We love getting to know our passengers and learning about them and their journey.
  • If you can, weigh your carry-on luggage before you leave for the airport. This saves a whole lot of time and ensures we’re able to get you on your flight and in the sky as soon as possible.
  • Stick to the guidelines advised by Etihad during your flight (i.e keep your devices on airplane mode, ensure you’re strapped in when the seatbelt signs are on, leave the aircraft in an orderly fashion and wear a mask if feeling unwell during your flight).

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