How to get better service on an airplane, according to a veteran flight attendant

Ever wonder how to score upgrades and bonus miles during your flight? Is there an ideal time of the day, or of the year, to fly? And just how clean are airplanes? We found out answers to all of these burning questions … and more. In the latest in our ongoing series, How to Get Better Service, NBC News BETTER sat down with Stella Connolly, a veteran New York-based flight attendant, and the personality behind the YouTube channel, Fly With Stella. Connolly has spent years working for one of the nation' 

The best times to fly (and days to avoid)

Wondering when is the best time of the day to fly? Warning to night owls: You're not going to like Connolly's answer.

"Early morning flights are the best," said Connolly. "They're almost always on time. As the day goes by, if one flight is late it's a snowball effect and there's a higher chance flights will be delayed. I recommend flying early."

An on-time flight means not only will you get to your destination quickly, but also that you'll be working with a flight crew that's typically in a better mood.

Related: Scariest travel destinations

Don't look down: Scariest travel destinations
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Don't look down: Scariest travel destinations

Chamonix in the French Alps.

The Chamonix Skywalk is a five-sided glass structure installed on the top terrace of the Aiguille du Midi (3842m), with a 1,000 metre drop below, where visitors can step out from the terrace, giving the visitors the impression of standing in the void.

(REUTERS/Robert Pratta (FRANCE)

The Burj Kahlifa, the world's tallest building in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Situated in downtown Dubai, the building was completed in October 2009. The building stands 829.8 metres tall, 2,722 feet. Visitors to Dubai can visit the buidling, with an observation deck on the 124th floor, named 'At the Top'. The views from the deck are stunning and give an amazing view of the surrounds of Dubai. The lift taking visitors to the deck hurtles guests at top speed and then allows them space outside to view the surrounds. There are 24,348 windows in the building. The building dominates for miles around and is truly a spectacular building of our day.

Zhangjiajie, China

Picture shows the glass-bottomed bridge across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon on June 12, 2016 in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province of China. The bridge stretched 430 meters long, 6 meters wide and the biggest vertical drop was 1,430 meters under the path. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Willis Tower, Chicago.

The observation deck of the 108-story Willis Tower (formerly named the Sears Tower), January 15, 2014. Over one million people visit its observation deck each year. The 1,451-foot building is home to United Airlines's main office.

(Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia.

It's a curved pedestrian bridge built on top of Mt. Machinchang at a height of 700 meters above sea level. The bridge is suspended from a 82 meter pylon swinging out over the landscape to give visitors a unique view of the surrounding area and neighboring islands.

(Photo by John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Blackpool, England.

 The observation deck at the top of the tower becomes the Blackpool Tower Eye and features a skywalk made of glass overlooking the sea and the promenade.

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Zhangjiajie, China.

Aerial view of tourists walking on the 100-meter-long and 1.6-meter-wide glass skywalk clung the cliff of Tianmen Mountain (or Tianmenshan Mountain) in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park on August 1, 2016 in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province of China. The Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk, featuring a total of 99 road turns, layers after another, is the third glass skywalk on the Tianmen Mountain (or Tianmenshan Mountain).

(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Auckland's Sky Tower, New Zealand.

Steeplejacks celebrate the completion of electrical and construction work on Auckland's Sky Tower.

Dachstein Mountains, Austria.

People on the 'Stairway to Nothingness' on the Dachstein Mountains.

Lion's Head, Cape Town, South Africa.

Lion's Head is known for spectacular views over both the city and the Atlantic Seaboard, and the hike to the top is particularly popular hike in the city and people hike up during full moon. Its slopes are also a popular launching point for paragliders.

(Photo by Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Via Ferrata, Telluride, Colorado. 

Traversing the Main Event section of the Via Ferrata. 

Capilano River, Vancouver.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge across the Capilano River in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, circa 1960.

(Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Royal Gorge in Colorado Springs.
Devil's pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia.
Stone Stairway, Skellig Michael, Ireland.

El Caminito del Ray, Malaga Spain.

'El Caminito del Rey', which was built in 1905 and winds through the Gaitanes Gorge, reopened last weekend after a safer footpath was installed above the original. The path, known as the most dangerous footpath in the world, was closed after two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000. The restoration started in 2011 and reportedly cost 5.5 million euros.

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)


Connolly said that people often forget that just as passengers don't like delayed flights, neither do flight attendants. "We want to get home or get to our destinations just as much as you do," said Connolly. "We're happier if the flight takes off on time."

Connolly said early flights will also enable you to enjoy a cleaner aircraft. Planes are generally cleaner first thing in the morning, after crews have had a chance to do a thorough cleansing of the cabin.

As for times of the year that are particularly difficult to fly?

"The worst time to fly is the holidays," said Connolly. "On any holiday weekend, everything is completely booked."

When flights are overbooked, Connolly said there are few, if any, opportunities for upgrades or seat changes. There are also additional challenges: little if any room in the overhead luggage bins (which means you might be asked to check that bag you'd hoped to carry on) and crowds that can contribute to a tense mood on the entire aircraft.

Some passengers try to game the system and fly on Christmas Day or on Thanksgiving Day, thinking fewer people will fly on the actual holiday than during the days leading up to it, but Connolly warned those days are stressful, too, and aren't as quiet as you might hope.

"Even on the actual holidays it's really hard to fly. For the best flights, try to avoid holiday travel."

Being a frequent flyer on an airline gets you noticed

Want to know a surefire way to score more attention from a flight crew? Fly frequently on that airline and "up" your status.

Connolly said flight attendants can see the flight status of everyone on a given flight. Customers who fly the most frequently on an airline get noticed and can score additional in-flight perks.

These perks can range, Connolly said, from scoring seat upgrades, to being given other kinds of preferential treatment.

Related: Best airlines in the world

20 best airlines in the world
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20 best airlines in the world

20. Hong Kong Airlines

Previous rank: 24

Why it's awesome: Hong Kong Airlines has been on an impressive growth streak over the past couple of years. Not only has it rapidly expanded its global network, the carrier has also worked to improve service and product. Hong Kong Airlines is a subsidiary of China's HNA Group.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images)

19. KLM

Previous rank: 22

Why it's awesome: Royal Dutch KLM is considered the oldest continuously operating airline in the world. Based out of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, KLM is famous for its bright blue livery and Dutch house liquor bottle figurines. The airline is one half of the Franco-Dutch conglomerate Air France-KLM.

KLM also took home the prize for Best Business Class Seat in Europe.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)

18. Turkish Airlines

Previous rank: 12

Why it's awesome: Turkish Airlines is the flag carrier of Turkey and has its main hub at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. The airline, with its ability to fly to over 100 countries and over 200 cities worldwide, hopes to turn its home base into a global transit hub.

Even though political unrest and security concerns have made life more complicated for Turkish Airlines, the carrier's high-quality service, and product offerings remain unchanged.

Turkish is a member of Star Alliance and had won the Skytrax award for Best Airline in Europe six years in a row before losing the title to Lufthansa last year.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

17. Air New Zealand

Previous rank: 19

Why it's awesome: In 2018, Air New Zealand reclaimed the titles of World's Best Premium Economy Class and World's Best Premium Economy Seat from Aussie rival Qantas, the Kiwi carrier remains one of the industry's finest long-haul carriers.

In economy class, families can opt for the airlines innovative Skycouch that transforms a bank of three economy seats into a flat activity area.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

16. Austrian Airlines

Previous rank: 17

Why it's awesome: Austrian Airlines has overcome a series of labor disputes in recent years, with its high level of service intact. In 2018, the Lufthansa-owned carrier, once again, took home the prize for Best Airline Staff Service in Europe. The Austrian flag carrier boasts a fleet of newly renovated long-haul Boeing 767-300ER and 777-200 jets flying out of its base in Vienna.

Economy fliers gave the Star Alliance member high marks for its efficient and effective service, as well as for the wealth of onboard dining and entertainment options.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader)

15. Etihad Airways

Previous rank: 8

Why it's awesome: Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, with its Airbus and Boeing fleet traveling to about 100 destinations. The airline has become famous for its trademark Residence flying apartments as well as its plush first-class and business-class suites.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Natalie Naccache/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

14. China Southern Airways

Previous rank: 23

Why it's awesome: Even though Air China and China Eastern may get more attention, China Southern is actually the largest airline in the Middle Kingdom.

The Guangzhou-based airline also won the award for Most Improved Airline, Best First Class in China, and Best First Class Lounge in China.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

13. Japan Airlines

Previous rank: 16

Why it's awesome: Japan's flag carrier is one of the most respected airlines in the world. Reviewers on Skytrax praised Japan's second-largest airline for its attentive service, well-coordinated ground staff, and comfortable cabin.

For 2018, Japan Airlines once again won the award for Best Economy Class Airline Seat.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

12. Swiss International Air Lines

Previous rank: 14

Why it's awesome: Swiss International Air Lines emerged in 2002 from the remnants of the now defunct Swissair and is now a member of the Lufthansa corporate family. In 2016, the Basel-based carrier became the first in the world to operate the next generation Bombardier C-Series airliner.

Though some fliers found economy seat comfort to be lacking, most praised the cabin crew for its friendly service and the airline for its wide assortment of complimentary adult beverages.

Plus, the complimentary Swiss chocolate is always a fan favorite.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

11. Qantas

Previous rank: 15

Why it's awesome: Even with strong competition from Virgin Australia, Qantas has been resurgent over the past couple of years. The airline received praise for its strong customer service and in-flight entertainment. And then there's Qantas' calling card — it has a fatality-free safety record in the jet era.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

10. Thai Airways

Previous rank: 11

Why it's awesome: Thai Airways has long been an industry leader for quality service, so it's no surprise to find the Thai national carrier high up on the list. Though its most heralded products are its business and first-class services, fliers found its economy seats to be of high quality as well.

Economy fliers on Skytrax also noted the crew's friendly demeanor and delectable dining options.

In 2018, Thai Airways once again took home the award for the World's Best Economy Class, the World's Best Economy Class Onboard Catering, and the World's Best Airline Spa Facilities.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by C. V. Grinsven/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

9. Garuda Indonesia

Previous rank: 10

Why it's awesome: Garuda Indonesia has experienced a dramatic turnaround in recent years. The Indonesia flag carrier has undertaken extensive fleet renewal and service improvement measures to regain the trust of both fliers and safety regulators.

Economy fliers have raved about the airline's comfortable seats and selection of Southeast Asian cuisine.

In 2018, Garuda's flight attendants took home the award for the World's Best Cabin Crew for the third year in a row.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

8. Hainan Airlines

Previous rank: 9

Why it's awesome: Founded in 1993, Hainan is the only Chinese airline to hold the coveted Skytrax five-star rating. In four short years, the airline surged from 22nd place all the way into the top 10. With a brand-new fleet of more than 160 Boeing and Airbus jets, Hainan is expanding rapidly throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia.

Reviewers on Skytrax praised the airline for its attentive service and quality business class accommodations.

Hainan also won the awards for Best Airline in China and Best Airline Cabin Crew in China.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


7. Lufthansa

Previous rank: 7

Why it's awesome: Europe's largest airline has surged into the top 10 over the past couple of years. Customers have praised Lufthansa for its exceptional service and overall product quality.

For the most part, Lufthansa's long-haul service is good, but, for the best results, it would be wise to aim for the fleet's newer A380 superjumbos and 748-8 Intercontinental jumbo jets.

In addition to a top-10 finish, the German national airline also took home the prize for Best Airline in Europe and Best Business Class in Europe.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

6. Cathay Pacific Airways

Previous rank: 5

Why it's awesome: Although Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, fell back one spot from last year, the airline still retains its place as one of the most respected carriers from the Pacific rim. With a fleet of long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets and a business strategy centered on offering a high frequency of flights, Cathay is one of the finest flying experiences in Asia.

Skytrax reviewers gave the airline high marks for seat comfort, service quality, and in-flight entertainment.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

5. EVA Air

Previous rank: 6

Why it's awesome: Taiwan's EVA Air (pronounced ee-vee-ay) was founded in 1989 and is an offshoot of global container-shipping giant Evergreen Group. The Taipei-based carrier has grown immensely in the past two decades and now operates a large fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body jets. The airline is credited with pioneering the "premium economy" cabin.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

4. Emirates

Previous rank: 4

Why it's awesome: Over the past 30 years, Dubai's Emirates has developed into one of the world's premier long-haul carriers. Operating almost exclusively through its palatial hub at Dubai International Airport, the carrier boasts the world's largest fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos and Boeing 777 wide-body jets.

Emirates' state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system includes a wide selection of video and music options on demand, and even allows for live television and sporting events on its "ice" entertainment system-equipped aircraft. In fact, Emirates has taken home Skytrax's award for Best In-Flight Entertainment 14 years running.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Natalie Naccache/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

3. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Previous rank: 3

Why it's awesome: All Nippon Airways continues its march towards the top of the rankings. ANA is the largest international carrier in Japan and home to one of the world's largest fleets of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. ANA drew high praise from Skytrax reviewers across the board for cleanliness, service, and safety. Many of its planes feature slide-forward-style reclining seats that increase overall privacy, as well as power and USB outlets even in economy.

ANA also won Best Airline Staff in Asia and Best Cabin Crew in Japan.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

2. Qatar Airways

Previous rank: 1

Why it's awesome: Qatar Airways falls back one spot to second.

The Doha-based airline received praise from reviewers for its seat comfort and in-flight entertainment. In fact, the airline boasts the second best in-flight entertainment system and economy class offering in the world The airline links over 150 destinations across the globe and is expanding its fleet to include the latest generation of long-haul airliners including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350.

Qatar also took home the award for Best Airline in the Middle East, World's Best Business Class, and Best First Class Airline Lounge.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Photo by Marina Lystseva\TASS via Getty Images)

1. Singapore Airlines

Previous rank: 2

Why it's awesome: Singapore's standout service makes for a famously pleasant journey during which flight attendants are trained to treat customers with extreme care and respect. Personal TVs with plenty of entertainment options and hot towels served before take-off are just some of the economy perks.

The airline's home base at Changi International Airport is one of the finest facilities in the world and has been named by Skytrax as the Best Airport in the World five years in a row.

The airline also took home the awards for Best Airline in Asia, World's Best First Class, and World's Best First Class Airline Seat.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.

(Nicky Loh/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


Connolly said that flight attendants know who you are, and what "status" you hold on an airline, from the moment you step foot on the plane.

"We have the list of passengers who are frequent flyers," Connolly explained. "If they have status on our airline, their names are highlighted in a different color on our tablets. We know where they're sitting. It definitely makes a difference. We definitely appreciate them for their loyalty in staying with our company."

Connolly said that the perks extended to frequent flyers include free drinks and sometimes better food options.

"We always want to thank our executive platinum, our gold platinum flyers," Connolly said.

When something goes wrong, speak up (it could mean immediate bonus miles)

Connolly said she's well aware that sometimes on flights, mistakes happen.

And when they do, she said passengers shouldn't be afraid to politely speak up.

Connolly said flight attendants are increasingly able to make up for inconveniences by rewarding passengers bonus frequent flyer miles, instantly, using their hand-held devices.

Related: Secrets from gate agents

Secrets airline agents won't tell you
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Secrets airline agents won't tell you

Pardon us for staring at the computer -- we're really busy

From opening the door of an incoming flight to coordinating assistance for wheelchair passengers and children traveling alone to preparing the same plane to depart again, gate agents have their hands full. They also deal with last-minute seat assignments, upgrades, customer questions, and crew or maintenance issues. When they seem like they're tapping endlessly on archaic computers for no reason, they're actually accomplishing countless tasks in limited time. Delta Air Lines management once required gate agents to make eye contact with anyone within five feet of the desk every five seconds. Delta agents will tell you just how tough that is. Check out the 13 things airlines don't want you to know.


We can't upgrade you for wearing a tie

The myth that dressing well gives you a better chance at a business class upgrade has been around for some time—and perhaps it was once true. Instead of picking the smartly dressed, though, today's agents follow a priority list, starting with elite frequent fliers. Not following that list, especially when customers can view that information on airline apps, is a big no-no. The only time an agent might upgrade someone for free is if economy class is overbooked and there are no more eligible passengers on the upgrade list.


We can get you a better seat -- if you ask nicely

As eligible passengers are upgraded, more (and often better) seats in economy class will free up. Plus, seats that were previously blocked can now be assigned, so you could ask for an upgrade to a seat with more legroom. Try asking politely about half an hour before departure to see if you can move out of that middle seat at the back of the plane. Don't forget these other 10 etiquette rules for flying on an airplane.


Don't panic if you don't have a seat assignment

This doesn't mean that the flight is overbooked or that you are not confirmed. Because many airlines block seats for families or those who need assistance, there may be times when you won't get a seat assignment right away; other seats might be blocked for frequent flier elite members or still open for sale. If you opt not to pay for a seat in advance—or couldn't pick one at check-in—never fear. Gate agents are working hard to get you an assignment before departure. Keep an eye on the standby list for your name.


Occasionally, we can hold a flight for you

Airline computer systems can alert agents to passengers who might miss a flight because of a late connection. In fact, gate agents are monitoring the record of passengers who might be en route to determine if they should give their seat away to someone else (but only if it is clear the passenger won't make it). They even have a term for late passengers who scurry to the gate: "runners."

If a large group of passengers is delayed by a flight—or if the agents are boarding the last flight of the day—they might hold a plane. But they have to weight a lot of factors: For example, will the crew "time out?" (Pilots and flight attendants can only work a limited number of hours.) On the other hand, they don't want to strand any unaccompanied minors or elite frequent fliers. In other words, you could get lucky if you're running late—but don't count on it.


If you're really late we'll give your seat away

If boarding has finished before you breathlessly charge the gate, there's a good chance the agent will have given away your seat. Agents have to print paperwork listing all of the passengers, plus weight and balance information about the plane, which pilots use for flight calculations. To let a late passenger on the plane, the gate agent would need to redo all that paperwork, delaying the flight even more. You're better off getting there early. If you have time to kill, here's how to never be bored at an airport again.


The computer picks the compensation for bumping -- not the agent

When you're angling for more benefits, the agent can't do much—the computer is calculating how badly the seats are needed and how much of a travel delay it would cause you; then it derives your compensation. Most agents don't have access to airline lounge passes or drink vouchers, so attempts to finagle more goodies most likely will prove futile. However, you could politely request that the agent ask a supervisor if it's possible to offer more. Just don't get your hopes up. Airlines from the European Union—and U.S. carriers operating from it—are subject to strict guidelines on what they can offer passengers if a flight is delayed, canceled, or oversold. However, agents won't always offer extra up front, so it helps if you ask. Here are 12 tricks for stress-free air travel.


Misbehaving can go on your permanent record

Seriously: Although each airline is different, agents can and do make comments on a traveler's record. While the agent may have to search for the info, your nasty behavior or comments in the past can haunt you when you travel—you could even be more likely to get bumped from future flights if you've been really disruptive. Don't miss these other 22 things your flight attendant won't tell you.



"It's a new thing," Connolly explained. "Now on the tablets that we flight attendants carry, we've been given the power to immediately give customers bonus frequent flyer miles by pushing a button in our pulldown menu labeled 'Customer Inconvenience'."

Flight attendants can give passengers bonus miles in an attempt to make up for broken seats, glitchy entertainment systems, or not having a special meal on board that the customer ordered in advance.

"Now if something happens, like a drink is accidentally spilled on a customer, we can make it up to the customer right away and they know they'll have additional frequent flyer miles in their account when they land," Connolly explained.

It's all part of the airlines' growing awareness, she said, that customer service is key and that passengers don't want to have to go through layers of customer service agents after a flight, in order to voice concerns.

The airline has a few "extras" … all you have to do is ask

Among the extras: closet space. Connolly said a lot of passengers are not aware that many planes have closets. So if you're bringing a suit or special outfit to change into upon landing that you don't want wrinkled, or if you're traveling with a wedding gown that you don't want to pack into a suitcase, don't be afraid to ask the flight attendant to lead you to the nearest closet.

"If a passenger wants to hang something up most of the airplanes have extra closets," Connolly explained. "Definitely ask."

Connolly also noted airplanes often have one bathroom that's bigger than the others.

"On bigger planes, there's one bathroom designated as a bigger bathroom and if you want to change your baby or if you want to change into pajamas or a suit for when you land, you can always ask the flight attendant to direct you to the biggest bathroom."

Most Frustrating Airports
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Most Frustrating Airports

36. YVR - Vancouver International

A traveler arrives at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The number of international visitors to Canada plunged 20 per cent since 2000 even as global travel soars, according to a sobering report being released Thursday by Deloitte Canada. Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images

34. AUS - Austin-Bergstrom

Travelers walk the main concourse at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. Jim Smith, who oversees the city-owned airport in Austin, Texas, needed help fast. Mexico's no-frills airline, VivaAeroBus, wanted to make Austin its first U.S. destination, and Smith had no free gate space. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

33. YYC - Calgary International

The Air Canada Airbus A319 jet that was forced to land and unload injured passengers at Calgary International Airport after encountering trouble and making an unscheduled landing on Thursday Jan. 10, 2008. The Rocky Mountains are visible in the background. At least 14 people aboard were injured when the Airbus A319 hit turbulence during a cross-country flight, an official said.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)

32. PHX - Phoenix Sky Harbor

The silhouettes of travelers are seen as a United Continental Holdings Inc. plane takes off from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Yields on benchmark securities climbed to almost two-year highs as consumers spent more on travel and tourism while manufacturing expanded modestly from early July through late August, according to the Federal Reserves Beige Book. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

30. SEA - Seattle-Tacoma International

Passengers in the C Terminal at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) head to their gates on June 2, 2013, in Seattle, Washington. Seattle, located in King County, is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, and has become a hub for many European and Asian global business destinations. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

29. YOW - Ottawa International

Travellers wait for baggage at Ottawa International Airport in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. Canada's trade deficit widened more than forecast in June, signaling that the economy may have stalled or even contracted in the second quarter. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

28. MSP - Minneapolis-St. Paul International

Northwest Airlines jets wait at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport 30 May, 2006 in St.Paul, MN. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

27. SAN - San Diego International

A Southwest Airlines Co. airplane takes off at San Diego International Airport in San Diego, California, U.S. on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Airlines must reconsider buying new or used aircraft as rising interest rates increase ownership costs, which could outweigh fuel savings at lower prices. Photographer: Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

26. DTW - Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County

Vehicles sit at the curb outside the McNamara Terminal, serving Northwest Airlines among others, at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. pilots are working to find a compromise over union seniority, a hurdle to the merger that would create the world's biggest carrier, people familiar with the talks said. (Photo by Fabrizio Costantini/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

25. ATL - Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson

Delayed and stranded passengers waiting for flight information fill cubicles throughout Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after a snow storm on January 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency because of snowfall and ice across Atlanta and Georgia. A winter storm stretched across the Southeast as freezing rain and sleet followed on the heels of a heavy snow that blanketed the region. Airtran & Delta cancelled all flights out of Atlanta due to icy and snowy weather conditions. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

24. DCA - Ronald Reagan Washington National

Holiday travelers line up on Thanksgiving eve for a security screening before boarding their flights on November 27, 2013, at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

23. BOS - Boston Logan

The lines moved fast at TSA security checkpoints at Logan Airport's Terminal A. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

22. CLT - Charlotte Douglas International

A US Airways plane prepares for take-off at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on January 16, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. US Airways flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River in New York City on January 15, 2009 shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport on its way to Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

21. DEN - Denver International

Security lines at Denver International Airport are long but moving fast, November 26, 2014. The airport was busy with thanksgiving travelers. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

20. SFO - San Francisco International

Passengers walk to the JetBlue Airways departure gate October 17, 2014 at the San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

18. BWI - Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall

Travelers walk in front of arrival and departure screens at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Chris Greenberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

17. YUL - Montreal Pierre-Elliot Trudeau

People gather to watch the Airbus A380 as it makes its first landing at the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau airport, 12 November, 2007 in Montreal, Quebec. Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Walid Bin Talal on Monday ordered an Airbus A380, making him the first private buyer of the next generation super jumbo aircraft. AFP PHOTO/David BOILY (Photo credit should read DAVID BOILY/AFP/Getty Images)

15. MCI - Kansas City International

With no planes in sight, a lone passenger waits out the ice storm cancellations at Kansas City International Airport in Kansas City, Missouri, Tuesday, December 11, 2007. (Photo by Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)

14. IAH - George Bush Intercontinental

Lines of passengers wait at a security checkpoint 22 September 2005 before flying out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, as people from south Texas evacuate in advance of Hurricane Rita. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

13. FLL - Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood

Jason Cohen of New York City, catches a few last-minutes of sun before he was to catch a scheduled flight home to LaGuardia Airport in New York, Wednesday, February 2, 2011, at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Almost 40 planes were parked at the airport Wednesday because of flight cancellations caused by the snow and ice storm in the Midwest and East Coast. Cohen said he was an 'optomistic,' traveler and thought he would get out today. (Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

8. DFW - Dallas-Ft. Worth International 

This 17 September, 2001, file photo shows an American Airlines jet taking off from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas. American Airlines, the world's biggest carrier, announced 19 September, 2001, it was cutting least 20,000 jobs following the terrorist attacks against the US. No alternatives were being offered to fired employees because of the company's cash crunch after the 11 September attacks, in which two American Airlines jets were among the four lost, it added. 'This is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing I have had to do in my two decades at American,' chairman and chief executive Don Carty said in a letter to employees. AFP PHOTO/Paul BUCK (Photo credit should read PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)

7. YYZ - Toronto Pearson

Travellers scour the baggage claim at Toronto's Pearson airport for their luggage. Cold weather has caused a series of delayed or cancelled flights. January 7, 2014. (Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

1. LGA - New York LaGuardia

Travelers wait on line to check-in at the Central Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010. Passengers stranded when airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights amid a snow storm in the eastern U.S. may wait days for another flight as carriers move aircraft and search for seats on crowded planes. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images


Flight attendants can also supply passengers with items they may find a need for at the last minute, including aspirin and feminine products.

And while planes don't officially supply planes with chewing gum, Connolly said she doesn't know of flight attendants who don't carry gum, so if you're in need of gum to help you pop your ears when the plane is descending, she says you can always feel free to ask.

Connolly noted there are also perks available to children that are not advertised, but provided to parents who ask.

"Most planes carry wings for the kids that can be pinned to their clothes," Connolly said. "Some airlines give out little kid passports, where the kids get a stamp each time they fly. And pilots also are happy to show kids the cockpits before a flight. So when you board the plane, it's a good time to ask for a tour or a photo."

Finally, Connolly said, if you're on a plane that's running late, and you're worried about to making a connection, don't be afraid to let the flight attendant know.

"If you make us aware of the situation, we can make an announcement before passengers deplane, asking them to let passengers with connecting flights deplane first," Connolly explained. "We try to work with passengers that are in a hurry, and in need of making their connections."

Just how clean are airplanes? You might not want to know

"If you're a germophobe, bring your own sanitizer whenever you fly," Connolly advised.

Connolly said the turn-around time between flights is extremely quick, especially if a plane lands late and passengers for the next flight are anxious to board. That means there's minimal time for a clean-up crew to sanitize things for the next flight.

"Cleaning crews don't have time to do much between flights," Connolly explained. "Trash is picked up after the plane lands, bathrooms are cleaned and the aircraft is vacuumed."

There's no time, Connolly said, for deep cleaning.

First class seats on airplanes
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First class seats on airplanes
In-flight refreshments are arranged in a first-class seat onboard a Boeing Co. B777-300ER aircraft operated by American Airlines Group Inc. at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. American Airlines in December will start daily flights between Sydney and Los Angeles, allowing Qantas Airways Ltd. at the same time to reopen a route from Sydney to San Francisco. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Passenger seating and a bed sit in the first class cabin of an Airbus A380-800 aircraft, operated by Qatar Airways Ltd., on the opening day of the 14th Dubai Air Show at Dubai World Central (DWC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. The Dubai Air Show is the biggest aerospace event in the Middle East, Asia and Africa and runs Nov. 8 - 12. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An in-flight meal is arranged in a first-class seat onboard a Boeing Co. B777-300ER aircraft operated by American Airlines Group Inc. at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. American Airlines in December will start daily flights between Sydney and Los Angeles, allowing Qantas Airways Ltd. at the same time to reopen a route from Sydney to San Francisco. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A picture taken on June 16, 2015 during the International Paris Airshow at Le Bourget shows the first class area of a Qatar Airlines' A380. AFP PHOTO / /MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways Ltd., left, and Timothy 'Tim' Clark, inspect the First Class bar area during a tour of an Airbus SAS A380 aircraft, operated by Qatar Airways Ltd., on day two of the 51st International Paris Air Show in Paris, France, on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The 51st International Paris Air Show is the world's largest aviation and space industry exhibition and takes place at Le Bourget airport June 15 - 21. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
First Class passenger booths sit on the upper deck of an Airbus SAS A380 aircraft, operated by Qatar Airways Ltd., on day two of the 51st International Paris Air Show in Paris, France, on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The 51st International Paris Air Show is the world's largest aviation and space industry exhibition and takes place at Le Bourget airport June 15 - 21. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Entertainment screens operate on first class cabin booths aboard an Airbus SAS A380 aircraft, operated by Qatar Airways Ltd., on the opening day of the 51st International Paris Air Show in Paris, France, on Monday, June 15, 2015. The 51st International Paris Air Show is the world's largest aviation and space industry exhibition and takes place at Le Bourget airport June 15 - 21. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Connolly said for this reason, passengers should be especially careful of tray tables, which are not wiped down between flights.

"The person sitting there before you could have been drooling all over the tray table while they slept," Connolly said. "Diapers are changed on tray tables, people even put their feet on tray tables."

As for pillows and blankets?

Connolly noted you might want to bring your own pillow or at least your own pillow case. "We try to change out the pillow cases," explained Connolly, but noted there are no guarantees.

She advises that people who want to feel better about the cleanliness of their flight to bring their own antibacterial wipes to wipe down tray tables and arm rests and to come armed with their own pillows and neck rests.

Pay attention to new trends in on-board entertainment

You know how in-flight entertainment has evolved in recent years from big movie screens for the masses to individual flatscreen monitors? Well, in-flight entertainment is evolving again.

"The problem with those monitors is that they don't consistently work," Connolly explained. "Our airline is getting rid of the screens. There are so many problems with the screen. Sometimes they don't work and if it's a five hour flight — and the customer has nothing to do. It's frustrating for the customer and it's frustrating for flight attendants."

15 crazy requests people have made on airplanes
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15 crazy requests people have made on airplanes

'How you roll down the window?'

As much as we might like them to, cars do not fly. And yet some people seem convinced that cars and metal contraptions flying 35,000 feet in the air function exactly the same way. Many a flight attendant has had to break the news to a passenger that plane windows can not be opened. Doing so would send the temperature inside the plane plummeting to frostbite inducing-levels, endangering everyone on board. Why the passengers want the window open in the first place is a mystery to us—it's already cold enough on airplanes. (Here's the reason airplanes tend to be so chilly.)


'I forgot something. Can you turn the plane around?'

Yes, it's incredibly frustrating to forget an item at home, especially when you're embarking on a long trip. But considering that you're not the only one on the plane, the fact that you left your sunscreen at home is not reason enough for the entire plane to make an emergency landing. These are the craziest reasons flights have been delayed.


'Can you fly the plane lower? My wife is scared of heights.'

Sure, it's no fun to be on a plane when heights make you nervous. But, considering that planes need to fly at a certain height to minimize air resistance and drag, the pilot probably won't be sympathetic enough to oblige if you ask this question. And besides, how much less nerve-racking can the plane flying at 20,000 feet, rather than 35,000 feet, possibly be, anyway? Here are some tips that can help you combat your fear of flying.


'Can you fly the plane lower? These clouds are blocking the Grand Canyon.'

Unfortunately, a commercial flight is not a sightseeing tour. If you want to see the Grand Canyon, you'll have to book a flight to Arizona where you can see it up close.


'Can you avoid flying too close to Windsor Castle? I'm worried it may annoy the Queen.'

According to, one passenger flying into Heathrow was so concerned about the Queen's well-being that he alerted his flight crew. Heathrow is very close to Windsor Castle, and this royal-conscious flier wanted to take a detour to spare the Queen the noise pollution. Here's what it's like to fly like a member of the Royal Family.


'Can I sit backward like the stewardesses?'

One passenger seemed to think that this would reduce his or her seasickness during takeoff. The request was not granted. These airports have the scariest takeoffs and landings in the world.


'Can you tell me who I'm sitting next to? I hate sitting next to strangers.'

Hate to break it to you, customer, but the person you're sitting next to is probably a stranger to the flight attendant, too. If you want to avoid strangers, airplanes are not the place to do that.


'Can I sit next to the pilot? It's my birthday.'

Many people might want to fly first class on their birthdays, sure. But even that wasn't enough for this passenger, who wanted to be right in the middle of the action in the cockpit. These are the secrets airline pilots won't tell you.


'Can I use the rubber slide to get off the plane?'

Sure, maybe the safety manuals make the giant inflatable slide look like fun. But considering that the slide is only activated in the case of an emergency evacuation, passengers should probably stick to being grateful if they don't have to use it to get off the plane. These are the things flight attendants wish they could tell you.


'Please stock the plane with Cool Ranch Doritos and Kiwi Strawberry Sparkling Ice.'

This very specific request came from a celebrity (whose name was not revealed) using the booking app JetSmarter. This app is popular with big stars, since it allows them to book private jets and avoid the crowds (and potential paparazzi) at airports. Plus, it allows them to make ridiculous, very specific requests, like this one.


'Can I bring one of the world's best poker players with me?'

Another JetSmarter customer was determined to practice for the poker competition he was flying out to Las Vegas for. Via private jet, he flew an unnamed world-renowned poker player with him from Europe to Las Vegas and spent the entire flight practicing. Sadly, the JetSmarter spokesperson did not reveal if the customer won the competition.


'Can I celebrate New Year's Eve twice?'

According to a spokesperson for PrivateFly, not one but several of their customers request to celebrate New Years' Eve twice, on two different continents. They want to ring in the new year in Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, California, two cities separated by a 19-hour time difference. The company grants this request by flying these eager customers from Sydney on a super-speedy Gulfstream G650, so that they can make it to Los Angeles in time for the countdown.


'Please play only Liberace music the entire flight.'

One JetSmarter client specifically insists on only hearing the sounds of Liberace every time he or she flies. Another rich family asks to have music from "Mamma Mia!" play right before takeoff every time they fly, according to Magnus Aviation. And one celebrity couple actually requested for an opera singer to join them on a flight and sing to them for an hour. We definitely don't think these requests abide by the airplane etiquette rules every plane passenger should follow.


'Where is the ATM onboard?'

We've heard of secret sleeping areas, hidden buttons that give you extra legroom, and even a McDonald's on planes, but sadly no ATMs. Here are some of the coolest airplane feature you had no idea existed.


'The engine noise is giving me a headache. Can you turn it off?'

This one might be the winner. According to, one passenger asked his flight attendant what the "dull whirring sound" was, complaining of a headache. Even after the attendant told him that it was, in fact, the engine, the passenger requested that the attendant tell the captain to shut it off. When this request was denied, the passenger threatened to file a complaint saying that the airline's terms and conditions "did not state how loud the engines were during the flight." Oh well...flying isn't for everyone. Next, check out the craziest requests VIP hotel guests have ever made.



A growing number of commercial airlines, like Connolly's, are moving in the direction of in-flight entertainment apps that can be downloaded to individual phones and tablets. Connolly encourages passengers who want to have in-flight entertainment to find out from gate agents prior to boarding, if in-flight entertainment systems are available, and if so, to download those programs and apps to devices, prior to departure, and make certain that they work before take-off.

Bonus round: What about those throwback ashtrays and the 'Mile High Club'?

We had to ask Connolly to tell us the strangest thing she's ever seen on a flight … and to answer some final burning questions.

First, the strangest thing she's ever seen on a flight?

"That would be the time a passenger brought a full-size microwave on the plane as her carry-on item," Connolly said. "It was really interesting. It fit the size requirements. It fit in the overhead bin, so the microwave came with us."

We also wanted to know how come brand new aircraft still have ashtrays on them, even though smoking on flights is prohibited.

"Commercial aircraft are required to have ashtrays," Connolly explained. "We still have to have those ashtrays just in case anyone is smoking so that we have an area to safely extinguish the cigarette."

Finally, we had to ask: Is the Mile High Club a myth or a reality?

How to Make Airplane Food Better
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How to Make Airplane Food Better

Read on for some simple to tips to improve that airline meal.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Pasta Instead Of Meat

If given a choice, go for the pasta dish instead of the meat one. Airline food is usually prepared prior to the flight and then frozen. Pasta tends to hold up better when reheated at 35,000 feet.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Listen To Music

According to a study from the University of Manchester, powerful sounds like the blaring jet engine can harm our ability to taste sweet and salty flavors.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Extra Snacks

Crushing extra pretzels or peanuts over your meal can enhance the flavor. The study from the University of Manchester also found that loud noises like the plane's engine can make it harder to sense crunchiness.

Image Credit: Getty Images


Go for meals that boast a lot of spice. Since the airplane tends to dull our sense of taste, that extra spiciness will make the meal more flavorful.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Get Lunch At The Airport

Sometimes it's a safer bet to grab some airport snacks or a salad.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Ice Cream!

According to Marion Nestle professor of food and nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University," Ice cream is about the only thing I can think of that tastes good on a plane."

Image Credit: Getty Images


Since stews can be spiced well and reheated easily they're a safe bet. Stews and curries can be mixed with rice as well.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Barbecued Items

Barbecued dishes can be reheated easily, but will maintain a comforting and delicious flavor.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Find The Right Airline

A lot of airlines are making an effort to improve their meals. If the food is a priority for you, have a look around for the best rated airline cuisines.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Read on to learn more about how airlines are trying to improve their inflight menus.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Nobu For Qatar Airlines

In 2012, Qatar Airlines hired the word renown Nobu Matsuhisa to prepare the inflight menu in addition to chefs Ramzi Choueiri, Vineet Bhatia and Tom Aikens.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Danny Meyer For Delta

Last summer Danny Meyer's restaurant group Union Square Hospitality Group announced a collaboration with Delta Airlines. The executive chef of Blue Smoke, Kenny Callaghan and chef de cuisine, Jeffrey Held, are in charge of creating the BusinessElite Express Meals, which will be served on Delta's flights from JFK to Heathrow.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Charlie Trotter For United Airlines

Chef Charlie Trotter signed on to created the menu for Elevate Customers on United Airlines.

Image Credit: Getty Images


"Have you seen how small the airplane bathrooms are?" Connolly responded, laughing.

Connolly said she hasn't caught any passengers trying to have sex in an airplane bathroom, but she is aware of couples trying to get intimate in their seats, during a flight.

"One of my colleagues caught a couple doing things in business class," she said. "We had to let them know they couldn't share a seat that way."

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