Bag Check Rules

4079981298_37ce535983_nFollowing Up on Bag Check Rules by Joe Sharkey originally appeared in the New York Times on March 17, 2014. Here’s an excerpt…

And Barbara Quinn is skeptical about the “strangely misshapen” sizer boxes that are used to measure bags, which some other readers said don’t readily accommodate odd-size bags that are otherwise of reasonable size, like some backpacks.

So let’s not forget traveling musicians. A violin, viola or saxophone case does not fit in the standard sizer, for example. “My son is the violist of an internationally renowned string quarter. He travels about twice a month, all over the world,” said Judy Amory. It would be folly to consign a valuable, fragile instrument like that to the checked-bag system. “Musicians are an obvious category where one-size-fits-all simply cannot work,” she pointed out.

And of course, consider flight attendants, referees of the bag wars as they mediate passenger disputes and often physically hoist and pound bags into crammed overhead bins.

Heather Poole is a flight attendant for a major airline who wrote what I consider one of the most amusing books in the flight attendant memoir genre, “Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crash Pads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet” (2012). The bin wars are “my biggest peeve,” Ms. Poole said:

“I’ve had passengers actually take someone’s bag out of a bin to make room for their own bag, leaving the other person’s bag in the middle of the aisle for passengers behind them to step over. It’s out of control.”

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Talking travel with Peter Greenberg

Peter Greenberg

Miracle airports, bathroom selfies, flight attendant pet peeves, the mile high club – fine Purell and hazmat suits!  I sat down with Peter Greenberg to dish about multitasking passengers, beverage cart charades and why I hate the 757.  Ya know, travel.  This is a show you don’t want to miss.

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How to Pick Up a Flight Attendant

ImageHow to Pick Up a Flight Attendant originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler February 12, 2014

I’ve been a flight attendant for a major U.S. carrier for more than 15 years, so if there’s one thing I know besides uncomfortable seats and bad food, it’s men. Really it’s people. That said, I met my husband somewhere over Illinois on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. These days the skies aren’t quite as friendly as they once were. No joke—it’s probably easier to pick up a fully loaded beverage cart than it is a flight attendant today, which is why I offer the following tips.

1. MAKE EYE CONTACT. And say hello! It’s shocking how many people don’t return my greeting, let alone my gaze, when I say good morning during boarding at the aircraft door. Often I feel like I’m talking to myself. Sometimes I’ll even answer my own questions. This is why passengers who are kind, courteous, and say “please” and “thank you” really stand out.

2. DON’T SHOW ME YOUR BAG TAG. If you have to tell me your frequent flier status, you’re probably doing something wrong. Listen, everyone has status. Everybody’s important. It’s why the airlines had to create another top-tier frequent-flier level to separate the million milers from the three-million milers. Differentiate yourself from the masses. Compliment me.

3. HELP A PASSENGER. Nothing catches my eye more than somebody who goes out of their way to help another passenger, especially when it comes to getting overstuffed bags into the bin. Right away I know this is a good person, a person who helps their fellow man without expecting anything in return. Extra wine, water, pretzels for them.

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Horrible Passengers

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From little kids to belligerent drunks, flying on an airplane can be a high pressure situation.  In case you missed it, here’s a link to my interview with ABC’s 20/20.  Imperfect Getaways.

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A few of my favorite travel apps

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Photo credit: Heather Poole / LAX

This piece, written by Contributing Editor Margaret Loftus, appeared as part of the “Perfect Layover” package that appeared in the November 2013 issue of National Geographic’s Traveler magazine.

Flight attendant Heather Poole–aka blogger and best-selling author of Cruising Altitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet–shares smartphone tools that will get you flying high in no time.

Afraid to fly?

MyRadar is a lifesaver. Red, blue, yellow, green…watch the weather light up your screen. Users can see exactly when, where, how long, and how severely turbulence will happen.

On one flight, the captain had instructed the crew to take our jump seats. Five minutes later, a passenger in the last row was using the app and turned around to say, “You can get up now.” Two seconds later the captain called to say the same.

No place to stay?

HotelTonight offers last-minute deals in a dozen countries. Get $25 credits with your first booking, for each friend who signs up, and when friends make their first bookings. At noon daily, hotels are listed by cities and type (like hip, basic, luxe)–quick and easy.

Desperate for coffee?

GateGuru gives airport-goers an inside edge, outlining food, shopping, services, reviews, ratings, and maps. Find out if your flight is delayed (and for how long), which gate it’s departing from, and where to get the closest latte. There’s also a link to last-minute car rental deals.

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Flying with kids (what not to do)

 

5 Tips for Flying with kids from flight attendant and bestselling author Heather Poole originally appeared in Parade Magazine November 17, 2013

Despite my years of travel, I am lucky enough to know an even more frequent flyer—flight attendant extraordinaire, author of New York Times bestseller Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet, and mom, Heather Poole.  As parent to a seven-year-old, Heather is on Team Mom as far as kids flying. Here are her Dos, Don’ts, and Are You Serious-es to help parents experience a welcome drop in cabin pressure on their next flight.

1. Lower your attitude.

“Kids can be really disruptive on flights. But usually when that happens, it’s not the kid’s fault; it’s the parents’. Not long ago, I had a family come on board and their little girl threw a temper tantrum in the middle of the aisle as passengers tried to board. The parents looked at me and just laughed. Too often I see parents come on a plane with nothing to entertain their child, so then the kid gets bored and starts kicking the seat in front of them. Sometimes parents will even sit in first class, but leave their kids in coach. The kids will then be standing in the aisle during takeoff or trying to get out of their seats. If you can’t sit together, sit behind the kids, instead of in front, so you can keep an eye on them. Consider taking off their shoes to dissuade kicking and bring headphones—not everyone wants to listen to Spongebob.”

2. Don’t stow babies under the seat in front of you.

“I‘ve had passengers get mad at me because we didn’t have a play area on the plane. Another passenger came to the back of the plane and asked me where she could put her baby. She didn’t want to hold it. A long time ago I was on a flight—not working, just flying like a regular passenger—and I felt something between my legs. I looked under my seat and there was a baby. I turned around behind me and the mom was sleeping. I tapped her on shoulder and said, ‘I think this is yours,’ and she took the baby and closed her eyes again. She had no idea that I was a flight attendant; to her I was just a random stranger who’d gotten ahold of her baby.”

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Is there a doctor on the plane?

IMG_5051Is there a doctor on the plane? originally appeared in The Guardian on November 1, 2013.  

“Unfortunately, most flights are full,” says Heather Poole, a flight attendant for a major US carrier and author of Cruising Attitude, an account of her experiences in the air. “So it’s not always possible to move an incapacitated passenger to an empty row of seats. Singapore Airlines is the most prepared. Some of their planes feature a ‘corpse cupboard’, a compartment for storing a dead body if the situation arises.”

Even today, with low-cost carriers undermining the mystique of air travel, there is still something vaguely magical about flight crew, these people to whom one looks for reassurance in the event of scary turbulence. Post-9/11, they are trained to be cautious even in the face of a medical emergency. “You want to be there for that passenger, but you never know if it’s a decoy,” Morter says. “There might be a passenger pretending to have a fit and someone trying to get into the flight deck at the same time.”

Or, Poole says, it may be the case that the passenger has merely taken a sleeping pill and passed out. (“I’ll never forget that lady. We checked for breathing. Checked for a pulse. Cleared a row of passengers and were just about to get her body flat on the ground when she came to. Turned out she’d taken a sleeping pill. That’s why we prefer passengers to take them after we’ve pushed away from the gate and we’re up in the air, in case there’s a delay and we have to disembark. Flight attendants can do a lot of things, but there’s no way we’re going to be able to drag half a plane full of disoriented wet noodles by the ankles off the plane.”)

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