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Never Fly Without This as a Backup, Flight Attendant Warns

Packing one item in your carry-on can be essential—especially on long trips.

Coming up with a thorough checklist of essential items is a must-do before running off to the airport to catch a flight for any traveler. This way, you can ensure you don't leave behind important medication, a piece of ID, or anything else that might make your trip more comfortable. But the next time you're jetting off, flight attendants warn that you should never forget to bring one thing along in your carry-on. Read on to see what backup item you should always have on hand while flying.

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You should always bring a backup for the in-flight entertainment system when you fly.

asian woman using her phone on the plane

Thanks to how standard seatback screens have become on many airlines, it can be easy to forget that having access to live TV and hundreds of movies and shows isn't always a given. But flight attendants warn that packing a backup device such as a tablet or laptop can be vital if you end up stuck with a broken in-flight entertainment screen—especially on a long-haul flight.

Even if you're unlikely to travel without your trusty electronics, flight attendants still point out that you should make sure they're in your carry-on and not in any checked luggage just in case you need to access them during the flight, according to lifestyle website The Travel.

Experts also suggest putting a set of headphones and a charger in your carry-on in case you need to use your own device.

man looking out window of airplane while wearing headphones

If there's anything more frustrating than being stuck in a seat with a broken entertainment screen, it's being in the same seat with no way to use your backup devices. To avoid this, experts say you'll want to be sure you never forget to pack both a portable charger and earbuds for every flight.

While it may seem like airlines hand out headphones as often as they do pretzels lately, there's a good chance your flight attendant won't have a pair of earbuds to give or sell you when you board if you're on an older or smaller aircraft without dedicated entertainment screens, Elizabeth Simpson, an Oakland-based flight attendant, tells The Washington Post. This is also why experts recommend bringing along a pair of wired headphones instead of ones that rely on Bluetooth. Besides the chance they may run out of batteries mid-flight, there will be no way to use your hardware to listen in on what's happening without a special connector if you do end up being able to use a seatback screen.

Since most major airlines have made it easy to turn your tablet or smartphone into a viewing device on almost any flight, ensuring enough battery life for your trip can be crucial. But because airlines' fleets often differ from plane to plane, the power outlet you were counting on to keep yourself entertained in the sky may not be available every time you board. To avoid running down to one percent before you land, Simpson recommends adding a fully charged external battery pack to your travel checklist.

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Flights can also be a good time to finish other important tasks that don't involve electronics.

People filling out forms on an airplane tray table

Life on the ground can be full of constant distractions that make taking items off your to-do list difficult. However, one of the relative comforts of an airplane cabin can be the temporary escape it provides from text message notifications, never-ending emails, and nonstop phone calls. If there's a simple task you've been putting off, your flight might actually be the best time to put your undivided attention into it.

"Bring some things that you have to get done—thank you notes, updating lists, etc.," a flight attendant tells The Travel. "Make the flight productive, rather than zoning out completely."

A flight can also be a good excuse to put away your electronics and disconnect for a few hours.

woman drinking on plane

It can be tempting to use your flight as an excuse to catch up on your favorite show or finally watch that superhero movie you've been putting off. But some experts also point out that your time in the sky might actually be the perfect moment to truly disconnect and relax.

"Long-haul flights can be an opportunity rather than an inconvenience; it is all a matter of perspective," Naomi Ritz, from travel company Crossing Travel, tells AirHelp. "We travel for many reasons—for work, to learn, to relax. The best thing you can do on your flight is to get yourself into the correct mindset for your trip."

Take the break from texting and scrolling to catch up on a book, jot down some thoughts in a notebook, or chat with your travel partner. It just might help you arrive at your destination ready to see the world with a fresher outlook.

RELATED: Never Do This Before Takeoff, Flight Attendant Warns.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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