Being a junior line holder last month (October) was a wonderful break from reserve... no pager, no call windows, I held mainly 4 day trips- the downfall was that I spent many of my nights in hotels up and down the east coast.
When I first started, I was kind of excited about all the hotel stays. I felt like I was on vacation, no making the bed, dusting or cleaning and if I got hungry room service was always there to bring me food right to my room!
A few years, a few too many stories on hotel cleanliness, and a few crew horror stories later (bed bugs, things under the bed and mattress) and the trill of hotels has permanently worn off! I know Flight Attendants (and probably most pilots) have their routines they do when they get into a room. Some are pretty extreme, mine really is not. However, with Flu Season coming up and the spread of the dreaded H1N1 virus, I've decided to step up my routine a notch and keep myself extra safe this winter. So, I decided to share some of my hotel behavior with you.
- When I get into my hotel room (after its been checked by my crew for scary men in my room) I immediately hang up my clothes and jacket in the closet. Bed bugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing.
- I always pull out the luggage rack and set my suitcase on it before I ever open it up. Bed bugs scare me more than the flu.
- I set any other bag on the desk, dresser or bedside table and never leave them sitting on the floor.
- I carry flip flops or slippers depending on the time of year. Socks work too... The floors are DIRTY and who knows how long ago they were really cleaned! I do not reccommend walking around your room barefoot.
- Before sitting on the bed, I always pull back the sheets, look under pillows and pull up the mattress. Look for little red dots of blood an indication of bed bugs or the bugs themselves... Bed bugs have flat bodies and may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bed bugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color, appearing more reddish after feeding on a blood meal. Nymphs are clear in color and appear bright red after feeding.
If all clean and clear, Plunge into the bed- remember not to touch or snuggle up in the comforter. It probably has not been changed for quite some time as well!
-Before you reach over and grab the tv remote, stop and think about how often that gets wiped off. Like a door handle, lots of people touch that thing and probably not after they have washed their hands. I carry anti- bacterial wipes to wipe it down. Other flight attendants i know use the ice bucket liner to put over it.
- The main thing I learned after becoming a Flight Attendant is to NEVER use the glassware or the coffee pot in the room. Dirty, dirty, dirty things happen there. I will use the coffee pot if it is the coffee pot that pours into the to go cups. Again, I usually carry a water bottle and coffee cups of my own. If I get really desperate (think 4am wake up call in winter) then I will run it under hot water and wash it out with soap and water. Beware of the coffee pots please, it took me only one story of a flight attendant washing her panty hose in the pot for me to swear them off forever. (And I'm sure we've all seen this...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trl6B11Jb0k&feature=related)
If not, please watch it. It is a good reminder that unlike at home.. no matter what hotel you stay in, you really are in someone else's world and you can never be sure what really goes on in there. So, work extra hard to keep yourself safe and healthy this holiday travel and flu season!
What does your hotel behavior look like? Any new tips for me and the other readers out there?