Flying in the next few months? Pack plenty of patience (and several other things).

This post comes by way of a friend who has been a flight attendant for over 30 years. It’s not 100 percent hers (or I’d give her credit); she says other F/As gave input, so it’s a community effort from a group of professionals on the ground (and in the sky). If you’re traveling in the next few months, you’d do well to heed their advice.

If you are flying anywhere this month or the next few months, on any airline…

Go to the airport an hour earlier than you would have and bring your patience. While masks are no longer required on U.S. airlines, bring one if you're traveling internationally or if it increases your comfort level.

If you must travel with kids, go to a dollar store and buy new toys they have never seen before. Give them to the kids during delays. You can also buy the blow-up arm floaties to use as pillow or lumbar support for your back. A small portable fan or a paper fan is also good. Bring a tennis ball to massage your aches.

Fill your water bottle in the airport, or buy a bottle after clearing security. There is not enough bottled water onboard to fill your container, nor are we allowed to fill it.

Airlines don’t supply pillows or blankets any more. While there is food on board, pre-order to be sure they'll have what you want. Often there are not enough beverages for seconds.

Pack snacks and PB&Js, bring a refillable water container, portable charger for your phone, a deck of cards or UNO, download extra movies on you iPad or tablet. If you have wireless headsets, also bring the old-school plug-in type. Bring a light blanket.

If you are booked on the last flight of the day, be prepared that you might end up spending the night in airport.

Do not check your medicine or keys in your luggage. (Editor's note: I have NEVER packed medicine in my checked luggage but did put my keys in an outside pocket -- and lost them when the zipper fob got caught in the machinery and ripped the pocket open. Lesson learned.)

Bring a pen! You may have to fill out forms, or need to write down info.

I have been in this business for over 30 years and I have NEVER seen it this crazy! Every airline is short-staffed, gate agents are working alone at gates for oversold flights, the wait times to get through to reservations are 3+ hours. Restaurants and stores can’t get people to work. Super long lines everywhere. LOTS of mechanical issues, weather, staffing issues (none of which are due to frontline employees). They are as frustrated as you are. They are EXHAUSTED! This has been happening to them pretty much since travel resumed as COVID waned.

So I am asking you to BE VERY KIND TO EVERYONE. And finally, don’t bring your pets if you don’t have to.

Thanks to my friend Corinne and all the other F/As who contributed these words of wisdom.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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