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Insider Flight Hacks from UK Flight Attendants

At Velloy, we think that a holiday starts as soon as you board the plane - so why shouldn’t your flight be as luxurious and stress-free as possible? There are so many travel hacks constantly circulating online (you might have seen the recent seat belt around your ankles craze)

Insider Flight Hacks from UK Flight Attendants

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At Velloy, we think that a holiday starts as soon as you board the plane - so why shouldn’t your flight be as luxurious and stress-free as possible? There are so many travel hacks constantly circulating online (you might have seen the recent seat belt around your ankles craze), but the only tried and tested way of knowing the best way to fly is to speak to the experts. So we did it for you!

Buckle up as we unveil insider flying hacks straight from UK flight attendants from leading airlines such as TUI, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet so bring you the top tips for travelling. Following the launch of Velloy Travel earlier this year, we’re getting the insider knowledge to make your flying experience the best it can be. From shoe etiquette in aeroplane toilets to maximising upgrades and baggage allowance, we've got the secrets to make your next journey unforgettable.

Shoes On for Toilet Trips

One of the primary pieces of advice from Tara, a seasoned TUI flight attendant, is to never enter an aeroplane toilet in socks or bare feet. The likelihood is that the liquid on the floor isn't water making shoes a necessary accessory for bathroom visits mid-flight. 

Tara says, “My number one tip would be to not go into the toilet without shoes on! Nine out of ten times it’s not water on the floor, so you probably want to avoid taking a trip to the toilet in socks or bare feet.”

So although it may feel like a hassle to pop your shoes on during a long flight to go to the restrooms, this advice might make you think twice of going shoeless to the services.

Avoid Eating Off the Tray Table

Despite regular deep cleaning, tray tables are hotspots for germs, given their frequent use by passengers for various purposes, including as a support for heads, changing babies, or even resting feet. 

One easyJet employee advises, “Whether you’re eating an in-flight meal or having a mid-flight snack, never eat directly off the tray table. Attendants see so many people lay down their heads, change their babies' nappies, and even have their feet on the tray tables.” 

If you are worried about the cleanliness of your tray table - even if you aren’t planning to eat directly off the table - you can always ask the onboard team for an antibacterial wipe to give your area a clean before you tuck in to a meal. 

Be Wary of Seats 11A and 11F

Identified as the least desirable seats, 11A and 11F often leave passengers last to deplane, besides potentially missing out on meal services due to their mid-plane location. 

Tara from TUI advises, “If you are heading on a short-haul flight, you’re likely to fall short on food by sitting in the middle of the plane too. If you are planning on getting any form of drink or snack from the bar on board a short-mid haul flight, then sitting towards the front or toward the back is 100% the way to go.”

Tara continues, “If you sit in the middle, especially on your way home, we are much more likely to have sold out of whatever it is you want because we always start at the front and back and work towards the middle.”

The Timing Could Secure an Upgrade

Travelling during off-peak times might just increase your chances of snagging that coveted upgrade, with fewer passengers vying for premium seats. Mid-week flights over busy weekends could be the way to go according to our band of attendants. 

This may be a well-known and more obvious tip, but travelling when kids are in school versus when they are in their school holidays can drastically not only change the price you’ll pay for flights but will limit your chance of that coveted upgrade. 

Upgrade: Don’t be afraid to ask 

“Ultimately if you don’t ask you don’t get.”, was a clear-cut piece of advice on upgrades from an attendant at British Airways.

If you want an upgrade most flight attendants would recommend asking at the desk as unfortunately, according to the British Airways attendant, “Us flight attendants have no control. The people checking you in are the ones who can see the space's availability and have all the control. Even if there’s not a free upgrade they may be able to get you a discounted rate.”

Another attendant from Virgin Atlantic shared: “If you’re scared to ask, it’s always worth checking your flight online before you head to check in. A quick airline search can tell you if business/first class has already sold out, so you know not to ask. That being said, don’t rely on this solely as people always forget to turn up.”

Upgrade: The early bird… or the last, catches the worm

If you’re going to ask for an upgrade, try to be either the first one to do so or the last. The partnered flight attendant suggested that by checking in right when check-in for your flight becomes available, you will increase your chances of being first in line for an upgrade, as seat assignments have not been finalised yet.

The anonymous attendant said, “Sometimes with upgrades, it’s all about the early bird getting the worm - so it can be worth checking in as soon as you can before you fly. But this isn’t always the case.”

However, checking in at the last minute can also work in your favour. If the economy class is full and there are available seats in a higher class, airlines might opt to upgrade the last few passengers instead of transferring them to a different flight.

The Solo Traveller Advantage

It's noted that upgrades are more frequently awarded to solo travellers or those willing to separate from their travel companions, due to the limited availability of premium seats. So you might be giving up chatting with your friend or loved one, but you can trade this with the comforts of an upgraded seat.

A long-haul Virgin Atlantic employee said, “If you’re travelling in a couple you’ve got more of a chance of both being bumped, however, there’s still the likelihood you won’t be sitting together once your seat has been moved.”

The Art of "Bribing"

While not a surefire way to first-class, showing kindness and appreciation towards flight attendants—whether through a friendly chat or small tokens of gratitude—can enhance your flying experience, potentially leading to special treatment or perks during your flight.

According to one anonymous UK long-haul flight attendant, “There’s no harm in being a suck-up now and again. Many flight attendants, whether they admit it or not, have favourites on a flight, and you probably want to be one.”

They continue, “Although nothing is guaranteed and we aren’t the ones with the keys to a flight class upgrade, by being a ‘favourite’ you may be a shoo-in for a free bottle of bubbly or moved to a seat with extra legroom.” The attendant adds, “Whether you opt for an overly friendly hello and chat, or go as far as bringing us a sweet treat or thank you present, you will quickly become our favourite passenger on board.” 

While this move may be bold, this could be your way into the luxury features onboard your next flight - we say, give it a go!

Maximising Baggage Allowance

These days, there are hacks galore about trying to maximise your space when going on a trip (remember the legendary weekend bag that went viral on TikTok recently?) so we asked flight attendants for their tips for saving as much room as you can in your luggage.

One stewardess who works for easyJet suggested, “If you’re looking for smart ways to up your baggage allowance, switch out your handbag for a rucksack or at least a large tote bag. By doing so you’ll have enough room in your normal bag, along with much more, whether that’s extra clothes or snacks for the flight.”

Bring Your Meal

For passengers with dietary restrictions or those particular about their meals, bringing a sealed, instant meal like Pot Noodles or Pasta n Sauce is recommended. A simple request for boiling water to a flight attendant ensures you have a meal suited to your taste.

“I’d always recommend bringing a sealed, just add water, an instant meal such as Pot Noodles or Pasta n Sauce in your hand luggage.” suggests a Virgin Atlantic employee.

“By bringing your own instant meal, it’s assured that you can have a warm meal that you’ll like mid-flight and that suits your dietary requirements. Even if you’re neither the latter, you’ve still always got a backup snack with you just in case your meal didn’t fill you up.”, says the attendant. 

One final benefit of this tip is the price - as the attendant adds, “Another great thing about this hack is that pot noodles are cheap, and will cost far less than all the snacks you could buy in the terminal.”

With these insights, shared in conjunction with the launch of Velloy Travel, we not only aim to improve the quality of travel experiences on the plane but also hope that your travel experience continues to be exceptional when you land (using our insider membership benefits of course) with exclusive perks, discounts, and luxury experiences awaiting you as soon as you step off the plane. 

If you want to access further tips and tricks from the experts, along with huge discounts on 5 star hotels, sign up to become a Velloy member here: https://club.velloy.com/pages/apply-1?ref=velloy.com

Hugo Cannon profile image Hugo Cannon
Hugo Cannon BSc is the founder & CEO of Velloy on a mission to build the #1 private travel club worldwide. He writes across travel, dining, product reviews & general lifestyle categories.