So it’s time I shared the single greatest travel hack in the history of air travel. I’ve been using this hack on every single flight I’ve taken for the past five years, and when done right, it guarantees that every single person on the airplane with me gets to enjoy an upgrade to a better travel experience, as well.
It costs me about eight to ten bucks per flight, but guarantees a great flight for me and my fellow passengers. It usually also guarantees fewer complaints about any delays, and more often than not results in positive comment cards being sent to the airline about the crew.
This miracle? This top-secret travel hack? Ready? Be sure to write this down…
A large bag of M&Ms.
I take somewhere between 200 and 250 flights per year. And no matter what airport I’m in, no matter whether I’m flying 200 miles to Boston or 12,000 miles to Singapore, I won’t get on the plane without stopping at the convenience store in the airport and buying a big bag of M&Ms. Sometimes they don’t have M&Ms, so I buy a big bag of Jelly Beans. I’m not talking about the small “one-person” pack that you get in your bag lunch at a trade show conference, I’m talking about the “family size” bag of M&Ms, the ones you physically have to lift with two hands. That bag.
I walk onto the plane and find the lead flight attendant. I hand him or her the bag, and simply say “These are for you, but you have to share with your coworkers, ok?”
Then I smile at the lead flight attendant and walk to my seat. That’s it.
Understand, I’m not doing this to get a better seat (I usually get an upgrade automatically because of how much I fly,) or to get free drinks (they’re free in business class and I don’t drink anymore, anyway.) I do this on every single flight I take for one simple reason:
M&Ms make the flight better for everyone, from the pilot to the entire crew, to every single passenger, and I like making the flight better for everyone. Here’s why:
When we think about air travel, we probably don’t equate it to “great experience.” Rather, the whole industry has been so messed up in the past twenty years, that getting on an airplane has become an ordeal to just “get done,” as opposed to an experience to be enjoyed. So you’ve got 200 people boarding a plane, all of whom are in a bad mood to begin with.
Who do you think gets the brunt of the bad mood of 200 people? Yup. The flight attendants. They know they’re going to be dealing with difficult people, so they mentally prepare themselves before the passengers board. Most of the time, they try really hard to be as nice as possible, but they do so knowing they’re only one person’s bag having to be checked away from having 200 people making snide comments and raising tensions for as long as they’re all trapped together in a pressurized tube.
So when you walk on, no matter how much the flight attendants smile, there’s a subconscious wall of protection that goes up, and it’s subconsciously noticeable by everyone else. It’s not intentional, it’s just what it is, from years of FAs having to put up with abuse, and years of passengers feeling abused. It’s a vicious cycle, that won’t ever stop.
Until I walk on the plane with a big-ass bag of M&Ms.
You can literally watch the reaction of the lead FA. When I board and ask him or her if they’re the lead, you can see them tighten up. I mean, who asks them if they’re the lead FA, unless they’re a pissed off customer? (Think “may I speak to your manager, please?”)
I then hand them the M&Ms and tell them they have to share. Their reaction always follows the same path: Confusion, disbelief, acceptance, happiness, and then finally, a HUGE smile. By this point, I’m in my seat, ready to enjoy a much nicer flight from a flight crew that’s essentially been dosed with happiness. (And I’m not talking about the sugar in the M&Ms.)
Essentially, the FAs get an upgrade, as well!
It cost what, eight bucks? Maybe ten, depending on the airport. But the payoff is huge. The flight attendants are happily munching on candy for the entire flight, they’re smiling, and their good mood is infectious! They’re joking with the passengers, they’re cheerful, for possibly the first time in a while, they don’t feel like every passenger is out to get them! Again: It costs me somewhere between eight and ten dollars per flight to significantly improve the flight for everyone on the plane.
I don’t care if you’re sitting in first class, coach, or baggage. You will feel the upgrade effect of a cabin crew that just received free candy and a smile. You might feel it and not even recognize that you did, but subconsciously, you’ll notice. And that’ll set you up for a great rest of your trip, or, if you’re coming home, make you forget some of the bad parts of your trip, if you had any. I’ve done the research. I’ve proven this, over and over, for the past several years.
Understand: I think that almost every flight attendant working today does so because they truly love people, truly love to fly, and truly love customer service. Unfortunately, the industry as a whole has conspired against them (and passengers by default,) in an effort to increase profits. So it’s totally understandable that FAs are constantly on guard, and as I said, passengers can tell. If I can afford to help make the FAs lives better, which in turn, will make the passengers a little bit happier, even for just one flight, why wouldn’t I? I’ve said it before: Any modicum of success comes with the responsibility to make the world a better place. (Tweet this!) I’ve had a small bit of success in my life, and I choose to make the world better by, amongst other things, buying a flight crew some candy. The payoff for everyone on the plane is worth it.
So the next time you’re thinking about that flight you have to take, and you’re sure that it’s going to be miserable long before you board, why not stop and pick up a bag of M&Ms? You’d be amazed how a little bit of candy can turn a potentially miserable six hours into the quickest and best trip of your life.