7 Things Flight Attendants Always Pack

Flight attendants say they never travel anywhere without these essentials.

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Duygu Eren Tosya is always prepared. As the cabin chief for Turkish Airlines, Tosya is ready to help passengers with their every travel need, but she's also ready for her own getaways thanks to years of experience flying across the world.

"As a flight attendant flying globally through Turkish Airlines' wide destination network, it is essential for me to pack my portable chargers and compact outlet adapters in my carry-on bag," Tosya shared with Travel + Leisure. "I have helpful technological gadgets, and they need to be compatible wherever I land." 

Flight attendant walking into airport with luggage

Adam Kaz/Getty Images

Alexandra Johnson, a flight attendant with Emirates, echoed Tosya, noting she, too, carries a universal charger, along with a few other must-haves.

"While the contents of my carry-on vary by destination, several things I always have handy to improve my travel experience include a reusable water bottle (to stay hydrated), a toothbrush (a sustainable one that comes in Emirates' amenity kits), and a universal adapter," Johnson said.

Of course, Tosya and Johnson aren't alone in the air. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 96,000 flight attendants were employed in the U.S. alone in 2021. 

As for what else flight attendants always pack, we turned to the Reddit flight community and asked, "What do you always have in your carry-on bag?" Here's what they had to say.

Hydrating Skin Care

flight attendant faves


One flight attendant called out lip balm to combat plane air, which can be drying. Another added, "Moisturizer and sunscreen. Flying dries out your skin, and you should protect your skin from sun damage anyway." Some even went so far as to name a few favorite products, including Aquaphor's versatile Healing Ointment, which can be used to quench dryness on the lips, face, hands, elbows, and more.

T+L editors agree and even suggested a few of their favorites, including the the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream and CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, to get the job done. Both formulas are enriched with skin barrier-strengthening ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid, meaning that they not only replenish the skin but they also prevent future dryness. Plus, they leave you with a soft, supple-looking glow going into your vacation or business trip.

To buy (from left): target.com, $6; amazon.com, $28; amazon.com, $12

Soft Pillowcase 

Bedsure Satin Pillowcase


Flight attendants were quick to note that bringing your own pillowcase — specifically, a satin option like this best-selling set from Bedsure — on your travels is never a bad idea. "You will know your pillowcase is washed and won't break you out. Also, the satin is better for your hair and skin," one crew member said, since it helps prevent tress stress and breakage, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. (Psst, you can also check out nine of the best travel pillows on the market here.)

Some take it further by bringing both the actual pillow and a blanket to match. "Pro tip: It's tough for the pilots to regulate temperature on airplanes, and it's always better for them to err on the side of cold, so I'm never without my blanket," one member of the Reddit community shared.

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Instant Caffeine 

flight attendant faves


Even the most seasoned travelers need a little caffeine boost to fight jet lag. Several in the flight attendant community noted they bring items like instant cold brew coffee and matcha powder. One commenter noted, "Airplane coffee is a solid no for me." So, instead, they carry a travel-size French press and water kettle, as well as a Ziploc bag of fresh coffee.

Another said they bring along a special mug. "I carry a Contigo no-spill coffee mug. It isn't the best insulated option, but it won't leak and it locks, so I don't have to worry about my tote getting full of coffee." If you want to be highly caffeinated in the skies, check out this to-go espresso maker and perhaps even pour one for your seatmate at 30,000 feet. 

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Healthy Snacks  

 Miko Brand Instant Miso Soup


Being hungry while traveling is no fun, especially if you're the one having to look after hundreds of passengers. That's why several flight attendants noted they bring along "healthy, quick snacks like trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, and miso soup packets." In fact, the dried soup packets were mentioned more than once. And it happens to be a rather affordable choice, as you can get a 20-serving pack for under $8

To buy: amazon.com, $8 for 20




Whether it's break time on a long-haul flight or downtime in a hotel room, several flight attendants noted they always pack some kind of entertainment for their journey, including "a book or iPad with a PDF of something downloaded." One said, "I just started carrying a Bluetooth headphone jack transmitter. I can use my Bluetooth headphones on any in-seat entertainment, which I love."

If you want to try the Bluetooth trick, check out the Twelve South AirFly Wireless Transmitter, which one T+L writer said made her in-flight audio crisper than ever

To buy: amazon.com, $55

Cozy Items

flight attendant faves


Flight attendants want to get comfortable in between takeoff, meal services, and following landing, too. That's why several mentioned "cozy socks" as a must-have. Johnson noted, "Given I service many of Emirates' long-haul flights from the U.S. to Dubai, which can be anywhere from 12 to 15 hours, I always pack a good pair of socks to keep my feet warm during my sleep shift."

Another commenter added that "slippers" are a must for pairing with those socks: "On layovers, I won't walk around any hotel room barefoot or even just with socks on." Seek out comfortable options that you can pop in your carry-on too, like the Ugg Shearling Slippers, which T+L rated the best overall slipper choice in 2022. 

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Workout Gear

flight attendant faves


Finally, the flight attendant community made it clear they like to get their reps in while on the go, which is why many said they pack both workout gear and some travel-ready equipment. A "yoga mat," "massage gun," "stretch and resistance bands," and "gym clothes" made the list.

Not only are these items compact and easy to pack, but they'll keep you feeling healthy and energized wherever you are, while also helping to melt stress, and the body soreness that comes with a long day of travel, away. Luckily, all of these items and more also landed on the list of fitness accessories professional trainers always take on vacation, and can be found at Amazon starting at $17. Shop our top picks for a yoga mat, resistance band set, massage fun, and workout leggings.

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