What to Do — and Not to Do — While Traveling With Holiday Gifts, According to Flight Attendants
Here’s how to take all those presents with you to your holiday destination.
It happens every year—you finally finish your holiday gift shopping only to realize you have to find a way to get all of those gifts home (or wherever you're traveling for the festivities). Whether you’re getting home on a plane, train, or car, it’s inconvenient at best, and painful at worst. We spoke with flight attendants to find out how to make traveling with gifts as easy as possible.
Don't Wrap Gifts Just Yet
If to wrap or not to wrap is the question, we now have an answer: Don’t. “Gifts need to be unwrapped when you go through the TSA checkpoint,” explains Frank Arsics, a Delta Airlines flight attendant. “If it’s too large, you can always check the gift in your bag or send it through your preferred shipping provider.”
For lucky Atlanta-area residents flying Delta, Delta cargo has partnered with Atlanta-based company Roadie for its new DASH Door-to-Door service, which offers same-day deliveries. This service is specific to Atlanta, but if you live in the area, you can ship your goodies to over 55 cities. (And it has plans to expand, thankfully!)
Where to Store Your Item
Shipping holiday gifts ahead of your flight is usually is ideal, but it’s not always possible. If you absolutely must fly with your gift, Lisa Harrington, a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant, says to “check an airline’s website or call customer service to learn the size and item restrictions for carry-on items."
When you book your flight, the plane details should be available. From there, Harrington says, you can call the customer service hotline for the specific airline to get further information. And while it may not work out, this is the time to ask about potentially storing your item in a closet on board. Of course, Harrington specifies that customers shouldn’t count on the aircraft’s closet space as a surefire option. Airlines will usually prioritize parents with strollers, passengers with wheelchairs, and other types of cargo in these circumstances. It's worth a shot, but no guarantees.
Going the Carry-On Route? Pack It Well
Kiakona Ordonez, also a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines, warns gift-toting passengers to keep in mind that things can definitely move around if stored in an overhead bin. “Package it properly so it won’t break or make a mess should luggage shift in the overhead bin,” she says. “And if the airline doesn't have the exact measurements for their overhead compartment, travelers should only carry on small items that are transportable in small carry-on bags or purses.” Better safe than sorry.
Be Patient and Kind
Mostly, remember that it’s the holidays. A lot of people are stressed, but it’s still a season to remember kindness. “Kindness goes a long way, so be kind to fellow travelers and flight crews,” Arsics says. “It’s a busy time of year and everyone has something going on, sometimes a smile and a kind word can turn somebody’s day around.”