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The items flight attendants take on every flight

The items flight attendants take on every flight
Posted at 4:05 PM, Feb 07, 2024

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Do you have some air travel planned? You can’t do anything about possible flight delays, long security lines or the ever-decreasing leg room on planes. But you can control what you bring with you on your flight, and planning ahead might lead to a more appealing experience.

Who are the best people to suggest the “must-have” items you should bring with you on a plane? Why, the professionals who fly every day, of course!

To get the inside scoop, we asked four flight attendants to share what they bring with them when they fly. Read on to learn what items the pros take to help them get from point A to point B as comfortably as possible.

Carry-on Bag

You probably already know that having a carry-on bag is important, but the flight attendants we spoke with emphasized their usefulness.

“I always cary underwear, makeup, medicine and pjs in a carry-on,” says Julie Murphy, a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines. “You never know when your luggage might go astray.”

But which bag is best? The flight attendants we spoke to had differing opinions, apart from the fact that the bag must fit within TSA’s prescribed size (22 inches long, 14 inches wide and 9 inches high, including handles and wheels, for domestic travel). But these are some favorites:

Vera Bradley Cloth Duffel

“My favorite carry-ons are the cloth Vera Bradley duffel bags,” says Murphy — mostly because they can fit anywhere. “When I am working a flight, I can always find space in the overhead bin for a Vera Bradley duffel.” They’re also machine washable and “roomy enough to fit a lot of stuff in there.”

carry on bag

$70 (was $100) from Amazon $135 from Target

Travelpro Crew Versapack

“My favorite carry-on bag for work is a Travelpro Crew Versapack,” says Tish Stahl, a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines. She’s had hers for 15 years, and it’s still going strong.

“I can use it for a one-day trip or an overnight trip without having to bring a big suitcase,” she adds. She also loves that there are multiple compartments to store her laptop, makeup and snacks. This bag also happens to be on sale for one third of the original price at Macy’s right now.

carry on suitcase

$229 (was $270) from TravelPro $229 (was $270) from Amazon

Briggs & Riley 2-Wheel Cabin Bag

Petrus uses the Briggs & Riley 2-Wheel Cabin Bag because “everything has a designated spot, so I can find anything by feel.” She also likes that it has a lifetime warranty. And, she adds, “it fits a lot more than I would’ve expected.”

Plus, Petrus says two wheels are better than four as four can be hard to manage and offer different ergonomic. They also have less packing space.

carry on suitcase
Briggs & Reilly

$499 from Amazon $499 from Nordstrom

Document Holder

Flight attendants aren’t so different from you and me — they often take advantage of being in new cities to do a little sightseeing.

“For carrying my passport, cards and cash, I like to keep myself as lean as possible,” says Liz L., a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines. For this purpose, she loves her Baggallini Pocket Crossbody

Baggallini Pocket Crossbody

“[Baggallini Picket Crossbody] comes with a detachable wristlet that I put my [important items] in and then place that inside my backpack,” she says.

She puts the whole thing in her suitcase and pulls it out when she wants to travel light while taking an excursion. An added bonus? According to Liz L, it lays flat to your body, so you don’t need to worry about bulk.

travel crossbody bag

$43 (prices vary by color) from Amazon $75 (prices vary by color) from Target

Toiletry Kit

All of the flight attendants acknowledged that when it comes to toiletry kits, you want something washable that doesn’t leak.

Stahl uses a clear plastic toiletry bag, which she loves for its different zippered sections.

“It also has a hook at the top so I can hang it in my hotel room,” she says. “And I like that its clear and easy to see where my different items are so I don’t have to dig in each pocket.”

toiletries kit

$16 from Amazon

Cotopaxi Bag

toiletries kit

$45 at Cotopaxi

Petrus also uses a toiletry kit that’s easy to wipe down in case of spills.

“Currently I have a little Cotopaxi bag, because it’s fun with the different colors and completely malleable nylon that you can massage into any space rather than a more rigid case.”

She likes that it has two interior pockets on opposite sides, “so my toothbrush goes in one and razor in the other.”

Hand Lotion

Vaseline Intensive Care

$7 at Walmart

Flight attendants don’t have to adhere to the 3.4-ounce liquid limit that regular air passengers do. But when Petrus travels for pleasure, she uses a quart-sized, clear Ziploc bag, which she fills with travel-size refill bottles.

As for what to put in the toiletry kit, Murphy reminds people not to forget moisturizer.

“Flying dehydrates your skin so much,” she says. “I always carry some kind of lotion.”

Her favorite brand is Aquafor, which she uses frequently. “I also have a big thing of Vaseline Intensive Care for hands,” she says.

Compression Socks

Do you take a lot of long flights that keep you in the air for more than two hours? You may want to invest in some good compression socks, which improve circulation.

“They help invigorate your legs and keep the blood clots away,” says Murphy. “I can always tell a difference in how my legs feel if I forget them.”

compression socks

$21 from Walgreens $19 from Amazon

Portable Charger

In addition to carrying smart phones, flight attendants often use iPads for work. And like you, they may carry an e-book reader or tablet on a long flight. For all these items, a portable charger can be an essential device when on the go.

phone charger

$26 from Amazon $22 (was $26) from Walmart

Stahl uses the iWalk portable charger. “It fits right into the charging port of both my iPad and iPhone,” she says.

Meanwhile, Liz stows her various electronics in her backpack and keeps her chargers and cord in a BUBM Double Layer Electronic Accessories Organizer. The organizer features multiple pockets for everything from cords to usb drives to headphones. Plus, you can also use it as a cosmetic bag.

Sleep Mask

Yes, on very long haul flights, flight attendants do take power naps at 30,000 feet. But even if you’re blessed with the ability to sleep on a plane, the cabin never truly gets completely dark.

eye mask

$7 from Amazon $19 from Walmart

“I love my Lewis N. Clark eye mask,” says Liz. “I keep one in my suitcase and one on my nightstand at home. They are inexpensive, light weight and block out all the light. They have a padded ridge that sits comfortably on your face to keep the mask off your eyes.”

Water Bottle

While it’s true that you can’t bring a full water bottle through airport security, you’re allowed to bring an empty one. And Murphy recommends it.

water bottle
Hydro Flask

$50 from Hydro Flask

“Airports and hotels are putting in hydration stations instead of water fountains so you can fill up your water bottle,” she says. “I can not stress to you how much water you should drink when flying!” (And yes, those hydration stations are on the other side of the security checkpoints, so you won’t have any problems filling up.)

Bluetooth Headphone Adapter

If you’ve ever tried to watch a movie using the cheap headphones the airlines hand out, you know the experience is much better with your own wireless ear buds. Flight attendants are well aware of this, which is why Petrus is happy to share this tip: “Bring an adapter for Bluetooth earbuds if you want to use them with onboard entertainment.”

Bluetooth adapter

$35 from Amazon $59 from Walmart

If you bring an adapter with you, you can simply connect them to the two-pronged headphone jack. Then sit back and enjoy the movie or TV show of your choice! Just do yourself a favor and don’t watch old episodes of “Lost.” (You’ve been warned.)

Whether you’re already a frequent flier looking to make those trips easier or you a novice at navigating flights, these flight attendant recommended must-haves might be just what you need for your next flight.

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