CiCi has worked at a major airline as a flight attendant for the last five and a half years.
When it comes to flying during the holidays, she always checks for potential weather disruptions.
She also prepares by packing snacks and games and booking the earliest flight possible.
Traveling to visit family and friends during the holidays isn't any easier for a flight attendant. But often these frequent fliers are more prepared for the chaotic travel season than the average person.
At least that's the case for CiCi, a flight attendant who has worked at a major airline for five and a half years. She asked Insider to omit her full name and employer for privacy concerns. (Insider has verified CiCi's employment at a major US airline.)
Track the weather
The day before boarding any flight — especially during the holiday season — CiCi said she uses a handful of online tools to help her know whether to expect delays or cancellations. These tools include FlightAware, which tracks and predicts flights, and the National Airspace System, the FAA's online air traffic service.
"For me, having an understanding of what you're getting into before you get to the airport is 90% of the battle," CiCi said.
CiCi said she's not just looking at the weather in the places she's flying to and from. She's also looking at where her aircraft was flying from before her journey, since delays can have a snowball effect.
For example, if CiCi has a flight out of Chicago, she'll check FlightAware and the National Airspace System to see where that plane will be arriving from and if there's any inclement weather there.
"Having that extra knowledge puts you in the right mindset," she said, adding that it gives her a way to mentally prepare for her trip and expect delays. It means she can also come up with a backup plan to get to her destination if there are other options available, she said.
Book the first flight in the morning
"I fly out as early as possible," CiCi said.
That's because the plane and crew likely stayed overnight in the departing destination, so there's hopefully a higher chance everything should be ready for an on-time takeoff.
CiCi acknowledged weather could still cause delays. But even if there are delays, those won't have the same trickle-down effect for an early flier as they would for someone who is flying later in the day.
Pack for a delay
Especially during the holidays, CiCi said she always packs with a potential delay in mind.
That means she's triple-checking that she has all her chargers, packing extra snacks, and making room for a card game in her carry-on bag so her family can pass the time if they're stuck in an airport.
Most importantly, CiCi said she's also packing her patience.
"Just remember, you don't know what somebody else is going through," she said.
Download the airline's app
"Make sure you have your airline's app downloaded on your phone," CiCi said.
That app will send out alerts on whether a flight's gate has changed or if the flight's been delayed.
CiCi said she also always has it downloaded in case she needs to talk to customer service.
"You can communicate so much more effectively directly through the app as opposed to waiting on the phone or waiting in line," she said.
Are you a flight attendant with travel hacks or stories to share? Insider wants to hear from you. Contact Monica Humphries at email@example.com.
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