Flight attendants and other airline employees are in the customer service industry. So they’ll smile, be friendly, and accommodate you as much as they possibly can. But they’re also constantly on the move, underpaid, and responsible for the safety of hundreds of people at a time. So it’s probably a good idea for us passengers to do everything in our power to help them out.
Luckily, these airline staff members recently went online to share things they wish passengers wouldn’t do. Here’s a little look behind the curtain.
37. Get your kids under control
A little list of don’ts from a flight attendant:
Complaining about everything and then saying the least I could do is give you an upgrade. Nope. Just because you’re not happy does not mean I have to give you an upgrade. Don’t have enough business class seats for every unhappy passenger.
Asking different flight attendants for multiple drinks. We talk and we know what you’re doing.
Pretending not to be sick when you are. I know you probably don’t care about anyone else’s time, or how much it costs to divert, but do you really want to be offloaded in some foreign country with a medical emergency?
Not controlling your children. First, there are safety issues to letting your children run around without supervision, not to mention the sanity of everyone sitting near you. We all get when babies cry, but we’re less understanding about the toddler on a rampage whacking everyone’s heads because it amuses him. True story.
36. I never understood why people rush to disembark
Provide a good contact number and/or email to the airline to reach you at in case of a delay or cancellation. This is PARTICULARLY important if you booked through a Travel Agent or a third party website like Expedia or Travelocity. We can’t call you to tell you the flights been cancelled if we have no way to reach you.
Don’t rush to get off the plane as soon as it stops and the seatbelt sign comes off. Unless you’re in the first row or two you’re gonna have to wait for everyone ahead of you anyhow.
Check that the bag you grab off the conveyor belt at arrivals is yours. If you mistakenly grab someone else’s and leave, you can be charged with theft. Also be at the conveyor belt. If someone else takes your bag, it’s not the airline’s fault. They are responsible only for delivering it to the belt.
35. The cat out of the bag
Don’t let your cat/dog/hamster/turkey out of their travel bag. As cute as you think little Fido is, there’s someone around you who has been bit by a dog, is allergic to dogs, or is simply uncomfortable with your animal crawling all over them or sniffing at their food. It’s awkward and crowded enough as it is without some entitled cat-lady letting their animal bother people.
For every one person who thinks your animal is cute, there are 5 who don’t. Keeping the cat in the bag is a rule for a reason. And most of us flight attendants have no interest in enforcing rules. We don’t want to be cops, we just want to travel. Don’t make it harder on everyone.
34. Nah, bro, I know more than you
Pilot here: I hate to say this, but I don’t care how much you travel, you will still know nothing about aviation. So just listen to your pilots, FAs, and gate agents. Being in an airport should be the easiest part of life because you literally don’t have to make any decisions beside what you want to eat/drink. Just do what the paid professionals tell you to do.
33. Connections don’t always connect
The airline has no interest in delaying your flight. They make no money from sitting on a taxi way for a freaking hour before take off, burning fuel and paying overtime, because New York Center wants to shut down every route because of a little weather.
If you’re hot or cold, tell a flight attendant and we can adjust the temperature. In most planes anyway. Don’t complain after the flight when it’s too late.
If you are going to book a connecting flight through a hub and want to give yourself a half hour to connect, be sure to have a back up flight because you may not make that one. Orbitz doesn’t care that the next flight is on the other side of the airport and you are coming in on a regional jet where you have to stand in the jet bridge for 15 minutes waiting for your carry on or have to take a bus to the terminal.
Understand that just because you paid a lot for your ticket, most of that money goes toward fuel and paying off the loan, interest, and insurance on a $100,000,000 airplane. The airline may be losing money that year.
On regional airlines the flight attendants make like $15,000 per year. Their moms are watching their kids and they are seriously in debt. Treat them nice, please. They don’t get paid enough to get treated poorly.
32. Champing at the bit
Flight attendant here.
Don’t line up before your zone is called. You’re in the way, and you’re slowing the process. And what’s your rush to get on anyhow? You have space, (relatively) fresh air, fresh food and indoor plumbing available in the airport. That all goes away the moment you step on a plane. If your concern is having space for your bags, and you didn’t want to pay to check them – most airlines will check bags for free at the gate.
31. You’re either on board, or you’re not on board
Hi! Cabin crew here. Have your stuff ready before you get on the plane. We have 30 minutes to board the whole plane and must have everything stowed and people seated before we can close the door.
Don’t hold everyone up by finding your row and then proceeding to stand in the aisle to unload your headphones, laptop, charger, water bottle, etc. Get your stuff out of your bag before you are on. Know your seat number before you get on the plane. Know who in your party will be sitting where before you board the plane. Nothing like having a family of five arguing in the aisle because little sister wants the window, but so does everyone else.
Use the bathroom before you get on the plane! Quit trying to go during boarding. You will get stuck in the back of the plane and block flight attendants from being able to access the aisle to help the boarding process.
30. Tea or coffee? Yes, please
Ex FA here, I worked long haul with complimentary meals. If on one of these flights please take your headphones off when the FA is trying to explain the menu to you, they’ve said it 100 times before they got to you and don’t want to repeat it 3 times just to you because you’ve left your noise cancelling headphones on.
Also when they ask if you want tea or coffee, answer the question with your preference, that way the conversation is just:
FA: Tea or coffee?
You: Yes please, a tea with milk and no sugar thanks.
FA: Tea or coffee?
FA: Which you you prefer, tea or coffee?
You: Tea, thanks.
FA: Do you take milk or sugar?
You: Yes please.
FA: Milk and sugar then?
You: Oh no, only milk thanks
This repeating conversation was one of my pet hates, loved pretty much everything else about flying!
29. Hot wheels
I’m the guy who loads your luggage. Purchase a bag that has four wheels. Sometimes having to throw 150+ bags down a 20 foot hall while hunched over doesn’t feel good and is not good on the body. The four wheels allow us to roll them with ease.
28. I’m the one who ruined your trip
I’m the guy who makes the decision to cancel your flights. I work in a dark, windowless room far, far away from the customer service folks working at the airport. Stop taking it out on them because I’m the bastard who did it, not them.
27. We know who you are and where you’re supposed to sit
Cabin crew for a Flag Carrier full service airline. Please be mindful of when you’re walking through the galley and how much time you’re spending there. There are many potential hazards (ie. hot oven cages) and food safety regulations we need to be mindful of, which if you’re dumping dirty meal trays onto galley tops when we’re still loading carts for the rest of the aircraft because you need to pee, delays us significantly. No one dumps their dirty plates in the food prep area of a restaurant during a Saturday night service…
Also PLEASE keep a pen with you. Landing cards are required in many countries and we don’t really get stocked with that many.
We also know every single person that is supposed to be in every premium cabin seat – if you’re holding an Economy ticket and move to a empty Business/First seat mid flight without paying for it or without the Purser approving it, you will be found out, Security will be notified on ground, you’ll get a lovely permanent note against your profile and you WILL miss your onward connection trying to talk yourself out of the mess.
26. Also, please don’t call me a rampie
Please please please please don’t stuff all your garbage in the seat back pocket. They come around to take the garbage for a reason so when you do that our groom takes longer which can delay boarding. Please don’t put your gum in between the pages of the safety card. And for the love of god please be nice to the lavs because when you make a mess of them I have to clean them. I clean them every night.
25. That’s just trashy
Don’t hide your trash. We will find it, we search everything.
Flight attendants will take your trash during the flight. If you held your trash too long please, don’t throw it on the floor, don’t stuff it into the seat pocket, don’t jam it between the seats, don’t fold it into the tray table, don’t put it in the barf bag. This goes double for chewing gum; I’m talking to you nicotine gum chewers.
Best thing to do with your trash is to hold it in your hand and throw it in the trash bins in the terminal.
24. Let me just come sit in your cubicle
If you see the cart approaching your aisle PLEASE take off your headphones and listen to us! It’s so disheartening to ask and explain things to an aisle only to have people say, “I wasn’t listening, what?” Even more amazing is if you look up what snacks you want ahead of time. I will love you forever.
I know that sitting for long flights is uncomfortable, but the galleys are where our jump seats are and where we rest in between services. If you come back to stretch or stand for long periods of time, you are a little bit in our way, especially if we are setting up for service. I tell some of my friends it’s like if someone came into your cubical to hang for long periods while you are at work.
I know airport layovers suck, but please look to see how much time you have for a layover. If everything goes great and the flight gets in early, 35 minute layovers between flights sound nice, but I have seen so many people stress about connections when we have weather, flow or mechanical delays and their layover turns into 10 minutes. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can do besides give gate information.
23. The fastened and the furious
Please don’t stand up on the ground when the seat belt sign is on. The plane cannot move as long as a single passenger is standing or in the lav while on the ground. If the plane is cleared for taxi (let’s say after a long wait on a taxiway/gate) a someone is up, we can’t move because of the standing passenger.
As a matter of fact, try to keep your belt fastened at all times (unless you have to stand up and the seat belt sign is off). Severe turbulences are often impossible to forecast and happen before we can secure the cabin. If you are not seated with your belt fastened you are in a greater danger for yourself and also to become a projectile who can hurt others around you. Just keep it fastened, but a bit loose would be a better compromise then unbuckled.
I am a pilot and keep my belt fastened at all times, whether I am flying or a passenger on the flight.
22. Wait, people actually do that?!
Don’t flush anything down the lavs except your waste and toilet paper. You would not flush a Starbucks cup down your home toilet, why would you do it in what is an even more fragile plumbing system. I hate having to glove up and reach into a toilet to remove something a passenger flushed. People who do this are horrible.
21. “It’s not my fault your plane is broken”
Mechanic for a large regional airline here: For the love of all that’s holy, if the gate agent ask you to green tag/gate check your bag, please do so. When you break the overhead bin trying to cram your giant bag into the tiny little compartment, you’re going to make your flight late when I have to come on board and either fix the compartment or remove the door, and then nobody gets to use it.
Also, it’s not my fault your plane is broken, and getting dirty looks and/or insulted doesn’t make me work any faster. I know it’s inconvenient, I know you may miss your connection, but sometimes I have to fix something so that your last photo isn’t a smoking hole in a field somewhere. I don’t want to be working on your plane any more than you want me to. I could be surfing the web or reading my book instead.
20. You Need A Pay Raise
Where do I start?
Insisting that there must be another dinner “somewhere.” Nope, unless you think I’m hiding it for some reason?
Asking for a gluten-free/vegan/dairy-free/kosher meal when you didn’t order one, then get upset that we don’t have “extras” on board. Or worse, ask for one that’s all of the above (does that even exist?). Where do you expect me to come up with this meal?
Asking for strawberry juice, goat milk or other exotic offerings. Let me just get myself down to cargo and milk the goat for you, ma’am.
Giving me dirty looks when I ask you to put on your seatbelt. It’s not for me, it’s for you. Same with taking your baby out of the bassinet during turbulence. Who do you think is going to be more upset if the baby gets injured, me or you?
19. The Lobster Mac
Flight attendants often don’t know each other before briefing. You’ll hear a ton of us calling each other… “Hey hun,” “Hey darling,” “Hey dude” — all of that is just because we don’t remember their name.
Your flight today could be my fifth, and I could have been on the clock for 12 hours wanting nothing else than to get home or to my layover. Please don’t take out your traveling frustrations on me or my coworkers. It’s not my fault that TSA sucks, there is weather in the northeast, or that there’s a broken part of the plane. We’re just along for the ride, too.
Being yelled at because a grown adult didn’t get the lobster mac (which is amazing, to be fair) can get old pretty fast.
But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
18. Some Planes Have Maps So You Can See Yourself
“Where are we flying over right now?”
We never know.
Also, to open a bi-fold lavatory door, simply push in the middle. Where it says PUSH.
One of the negative aspects of the job is when people yank off the ashtray thinking it’s a door handle and then ask “WHY DO YOU EVEN HAVE THOSE STILL?” It’s an FAA requirement; ashtrays need to be on every plane in case someone decides to screw the rules and light up.
17. Who’s The Real Baby Here?
I’m a flight attendant for American Airlines. I once had a really rude woman on a flight sitting next to a young couple with a baby. The baby didn’t have its own seat and was sitting on the mother’s lap. This made the row crowded.
The woman asked if she could be moved, but it was a full flight, and the only seats available were in first class. We were not allowed to move passengers to those seats unless there is an emergency. I told this to the woman when she asked to be moved to first class.
The woman is clearly upset but has stopped causing a scene. An hour into the flight, we were in the middle of drink service, and the baby started crying. At this point, that row already had their drinks. Not even ten minutes after the baby starts crying, I hear the mother start screaming. The woman sitting next to the couple had “accidentally” poured her hot coffee on the mother and the baby.
With the situation being so heated (no pun intended), and with the couple’s seats being wet, we moved them to first class. The grumpy woman then complained about how she wasn’t moved. When I was walking through the aisle later, she stuck her foot out to trip me.
I wrote her up for this. The couple insisted that the coffee spilling was not an accident, and I agreed with them. I ended up filing an in-passenger disturbance report for the tripping and the coffee spilling. This could lead to the no-fly list in certain situations, or if you have too many in-flight passenger disturbance reports. She then made a huge scene getting off the plane, demanding to speak with management. Most unreasonable woman I have ever met!
So I would say don’t be a jerk to people with babies. Try to be supportive.
16. Close Enough
Unless you’re extremely lucky and your aircraft just rolled out of the hangar after major maintenance, there will absolutely be something broken in it. An aircraft can have a whole host of parts be broken and still be allowed to fly, the broken parts just get labeled, recorded, and put on the to-do list for the next time it goes to maintenance.
So don’t expect everything to work perfectly. It probably won’t.
15. Explosive Potential
As a flight attendant I saw a lot of shady stuff. People lying about ordering special meals, or complaining they weren’t served to have an extra sandwich; booking one seat in business class but travelling with a wife or child in economy then asking to bring their economy class co-traveler to be next to them in business class and ordering food for them; excuses and lies to try to get upgrades or extra leg room seats. All of which are funny because crew doesn’t normally upgrade.
Oh and let’s not forget passengers who asked in which hotel the crew is staying, and you decline to answer but then someone must have told them and later they show up in the lobby saying “oh what a coincidence you were my crew. Do you want to have a drink?”
As a ground handler I saw a lot of shady stuff as well. A lot of stories the gate staff had to endure from people wanting an upgrade, people lying about their health not to be offloaded, lying about needing a wheelchair so they can use it as an airport taxi service, etc.
But the worst case I ever saw was a passenger exiting a bus on a remote stand, during boarding, and trying to sneak a smoke in front of the aircraft. Luckily, I was just at the left hand side of the aircraft at that moment so I stopped him immediately. The fuelling was in progress at that time and it could have been a disaster. Basically, 400 people were in danger because of this little guy who wanted a quick fix. This happened more than once, actually. Sometimes I used to think to myself it seems as if people check in their brains in their bags when they reach the airport, and pick it up (hopefully) on the baggage belt at their destination.
14. Honey Or Vinegar
As a flight attendant, I actually have a lot of flexibility when it comes to special requests outside the rules. If you’re nice, i’m glad i’ve just made your day. If you’re an entitled jerk who thinks raising their voice and intimidation will make me cave… I will recite our terms of service to the letter and refuse to give you even a single thing of your special request.
It’s not smart to be a jerk to the person who has the ability to give you (or not give you) what you’re asking for.
1) Hairspray can set off the lavatory smoke alarms. Also, yes, your vape.
2) Whenever I take a flight as a passenger out of uniform, I always greet the flight attendants in the front and usually the pilots, and let them know I’m a flight attendant. It’s not industry standard, but the idea is to let them know where my seat is incase there’s an emergency and I’m an extra set of helpful hands.
3) Junior flight attendants are exhausted. Zombies walking around, facing minor hypoxia, sleep deprivation, negative bank accounts, and general anxiety. That was me during our airlines required ‘reserve’ period. It’s comparable to new RN’s and doctors who are on call. You can be on call for 24 hours, which means at any point you have two hours to be at the airport, in uniform, ready to fly any flight they assign you. Once you finish that assignment, which can be anywhere from 2 hours to 4 days, you have 9 hours of ‘rest’ before you go back on call.
3) Every flight attendant has a ‘base’, but not every airport is a base. Many flight attendants are therefore ‘commuters’. For example, you can live in Ohio but you’re a new hire who was assigned SFO as your base. You can move to the most expensive city in the country, or commute before your assignments from the Midwest to SFO every time. Many flight attendants (and pilots!) mitigate this logistic by staying in ‘crashpads’ a few nights a month, apartments under one name on the lease but with bunk beds and shared spaces and divided rent.
5) Most of us love our jobs!
12. Room Temp Is Not The Same As Sky Temp
If it’s a red eye and we are close to landing I might be hallucinating from lack of sleep. Not enough to be dangerous, just enough to see weird things.
Oh and when you ask us to change the temperature we pretend to do it. Planes are generally colder because if we hit turbulence warm temps will make the chances of someone puking much higher. No idea why.
If you curse in general it’s normally not a thing but the second you curse at me I can kick you off.
We have flex-restraints and are trained how to use them should you get disorderly.
11. Why Do You Check Our Boarding Passes 80 Times?
Please do not get upset if I ask you to show me your boarding pass at the aircraft door. I know you have shown it 4–5 times before you reach this point and I also know that you are aware how to get to your seat, but this last time is the most critical.
Reason: There have been some incidents where a wrong passenger somehow has boarded the wrong flight. How such things happened is not understood but because such things do happen and it is a huge safety and security concern, airlines ask us to make sure that every boarding pass is checked one last time before passengers board.
Failure to show the crew your boarding pass at the door will lead to us denying you boarding. On a certain flight to US we even had authorities coming on board as passengers and testing it out but because we are now very adamant on passengers showing boarding passes at the door, the authorities left without concern.
Plane evacuated as man arrested after getting on with ‘wrong boarding pass.’
10. On The Clock
Pretty much every airline (at least in the U.S.) starts paying once the door is closed and stops when the door is open. So we are not on the clock beyond that, really. We don’t like delays any more than you do…
9. Don’t Lose Your Button Privileges
Please do not keep pressing the call light throughout the flight. Trust me: we discuss every single thing and passenger in the galley
On my airline we attend the call light within 5 seconds (may take about 15 seconds to reach the passenger) because it could be a medical emergency. But on certain flights there are so many call lights that we can’t answer them all and if we had to attend these call lights then the service would never start. That means big time delays to other passengers who don’t press call light every 5 seconds. Let’s keep the call light for emergencies only, please.
8. It May Look Like Fun, But…
When everyone stands near the gate, waiting for their boarding group to call, you prevent other passengers from getting on board. Gate agents and flight attendants affectionately refer to this cloud as “gate lice”.
Flight attendants have a level of authority on the flight that’s below the captain, but they can (and do) make the call about whether you will fly or not. If you’re too drunk, if you’re belligerent, and if you give them the impression you will NOT follow their instructions on a flight, the FA’s can kick you off. If you refuse to go, they can have you arrested. Likewise, in flight, they can have you detained and arrested at the destination.
Flight attendants primary purpose is safety, NOT serving you food and drinks. That’s just something extra to help justify their presence on board and add some comfort to the flight. So please don’t mistake them as mall security, like they have zero authority and are just a sky waiter/waitress.
If you knew how little money they made, you’d rethink how you treated FA’s and if you’d like to do that as a career. The hourly wage MAY SEEM nice, but they only get paid when the boarding door is closed. Otherwise, sitting at the airport waiting for a delayed flight, riding a shuttle to the hotel or riding back for the next flight doesn’t pay the hourly rate.
When you add up all the time you’re essentially away from home or not in a hotel room, the hourly wage drops to below minimum wage. Some airlines give better pay based on seniority, but most airlines do not. The only real “perks” are flight benefits: FA + spouse/sig other gets flight benefits meaning they can fly anywhere for just the government fee as glorified standby.
7. First Class Is The Worst Class
We do not get paid extra nor do we “work up” to working in a premium cabin. On certain planes it is actually more desirable to work in economy (usually the plane configuration, staffing etc). There are certain routes where I absolutely loathe working in first class and business class, and if given a choice I would much rather work in economy. Working in first class does not mean you are the “most experienced”. My first day on the job I was the “lead first class flight attendant” and on that specific plane/route, usually it was the most junior person that ended up with that position.
It’s impossible to please everyone and a lot of times a good deed ends up biting us in the butt. When I first started flying, I gave a sandwich to a passenger who had a medical condition and he forgot to bring food. Well, this was followed by another passenger demanding I refund her because it was “not fair that he got it for free but she had to pay”. I told her I couldn’t refund and this resulted in her feeling discriminated.
This also goes with moving a passenger into an aisle seat. Maybe the guy at the window seat is nice and doesn’t care, or maybe he is a jerk who will complain that I allowed someone who didn’t pay for the seat to sit there. I wouldn’t know, since I just got on the plane too. Yes technically he didn’t pay for all the seats in that row, but you will not believe how some people twist things once they feel wronged.
I had a woman tell me I was the worst flight attendant ever when she was exiting and I was working in a totally different cabin than she was sitting and did not even interact with her. A lot of people feel like because something bad happened we should give them something complimentary; well you see that opens up a can of worms. Basically if I do it for you, I have to do it for everyone else.
We have to be diplomatic in situations to avoid discrimination lawsuits. For example, that man that’s overweight and spilling into your seat on a full flight? I can’t tell him to suck in his gut or ask a thin person to switch with you. However, you can, because the worst that can happen is you’ll get a no and maybe a glare. If I do, I am risking a possible lawsuit against my airline or at worst, my job. With the age of social media, a lot of things get twisted. I never want to be the flight attendant that “harassed a mother and her crying baby” or “didn’t allow a man with a medical condition to sleep” because he snores.
6. That Last One Is Good To Know
Leave the bathroom the way you found it. I kid you not when I say that a passenger left his giant turd on the floor of the lavatory. Not sure how. Not sure why. But it was definitely my first code brown.
We can tell when your emotional support animal is real and when you just manipulated the system to avoid paying the cabin pet fee.
Don’t make small talk with us. We hear the same questions every day, “Whats your route?” “Is this your first flight.” Shhhhhhhh. Im here to give you food, drinks, and clear instructions on how to get out if the plane is on fire. I am not here to provide you with small talk- get a book.
Perhaps this is the most important one: Most airports right now are landing too many planes an hour. So if we have to wait for a gate or if there is a traffic jam on the tarmac DO NOT — I repeat DO NOT — ask us to call the flight deck and tell them to HOLD YOUR CONNECTING FLIGHT. That’s not how it works in America. You are not special and your flight will never be held for you unless you have George Clooney status. During the holiday season make sure your connection time is at least 90 minutes minimum. Weather, maintenance, air traffic control delays are all factors that will stop you from having a seamless experience. Plan ahead.
5. This Is How You Say ‘Thank You’
I once had a passenger ask me if he could get an amenity kit from business class. Usually passengers are not aware of amenity kits from business class. Anyhow this passenger did know about this. I told him let us do a trade: I would give him an amenity kit from business class if there are any left and in return for that it would be lovely if he wrote feedback to the airline about me and my excellent service/performance on board. He agreed to the deal.
The reason why I told the passenger to write a feedback about my performance on board is that these feedbacks the airlines get about the crew are worth GOLD for us.
A few weeks later, my performance manager emailed me and informed me that a passenger on board xxxxx flight, had written an excellent ‘thank you’ feedback in regards to my performance on board. My performance manager thanked me for my service and mentioned ‘’keep up the good work’’. This letter will be saved in my performance file. The more positive letters/feedback’s we have from passengers, the greater chance we have to get promoted. Some airlines give their crew various bonuses if they get positive feedback from passengers. Although with the airline I work at, we don’t get bonuses. These positive letters sent by passengers can truly boost a crew’s career. In the airline I work at, the more positive letters the higher chance of getting promoted quicker.
I rarely ask passengers to write positive feedback about my service/performance on board. I like the feedback to be authentic and come naturally from the passengers without us asking. But most often passengers have no idea that they can write feedback about the crew and their service/performance on board. If they know, a high % don’t write any feedback at all because it is such a hassle for people and crew are the last thing on folk’s minds when they go off the plane.
Anyhow in that case I had with that passenger, I thought it would be a fun trade. He got a fun/awesome amenity kit from the business class and I got an excellent feedback. It was a win-win situation for both of us.
4. You Never Know Who You’re Talking To
We try not to let you know when two FBI men and a handcuffed criminal charged with murder are sitting two seats behind you. Or that the man in the window seat who has a blanket up to his shoulders actually died on the flight and has been dead for 10 hours.
If the food flies out of the carts down in the lower lobe galley of jumbo jets and the steaks, peas, and biscuits end up rolling around on the floor and under other carts and machinery we won’t tell you we crawled on our hands and knees trying to scoop up all the food we could then either rinsed it off or brushed it off and put it back on the meal trays, because after all, that’s all the food there is on the plane and everyone expects a meal, so we make it work.
Since we aren’t provided meals (the pilots are but not flight attendants) we eye the passengers carefully during the meal service for clean passengers who haven’t finished their meals and race to take away their trays and eat what food they have left over. We pick off everything edible and pile it in a corner of the galley, then when we have a moment we stand in the galley and eat a little bit at a time while we continue working.
You would expect flight attendants to have been nurses before starting a flying career (the first stewardesses who worked for United Airlines and had to be nurses) but you wouldn’t expect them to be attorneys, deputy sheriffs, actresses, multiple patent holders, former doctors and dentists, real estate moguls, award-winning authors, and owners of multi-million dollar conglomerates. Or that they are married to billionaires, senators, governors, movie stars, inventors, sports stars and astronauts.
Just after writing this sentence, I remember working with a gorgeous stewardess married to a billionaire toy manufacturer, who once asked Lucille Ball what she would like to eat for dinner and was told, “I don’t speak to servants.”
3. That’s One Way To Ask A Girl Out
I was a flight attendant with TWA back in the early 70s and I had an experience I would love to tell you about.
This was back in the day when passengers were given a choice for their meal, usually steak or chicken.
The crew, almost always women, were often hit on by male passengers. They didn’t seem to understand that most of us were serious about our jobs. We had a lot to do and a limited amount of time in which to do it.
Besides, rarely did any of us ever date a passenger.
This one time, I had spent most of the flight dealing with this wannabe playboy. He had become especially fond of patting my rear end as I passed his aisle seat in my section of coach. He had also sorely embarrassed me by pulling me right into his lap.
Shady, yes, but this took the grand prize for shady — at least on that flight …
Dinner was over and I was retrieving the used dinner trays. When I picked up the three trays from playboy and his seat mates, his tray had a room key to a major San Francisco hotel and a $100 bill was peeking out from under a napkin beside his plate.
I waited until I was halfway back up the aisle toward the galley. Then I turned around, waved the key and the $100 bill high in the air, and shouted:
“It seems someone has lost this hotel key and money! If they’re yours, you can get them from the Captain at the door, once we’ve landed.”
2. You’ve Been Served
The lack of stability in my schedule is a huge thing that people don’t really know about, I find out where I’m going for the month on the 21st of the month before. Unless I have my booked leave there I have no idea what my days off will be.
In January I turned up to work for a Nairobi trip and got reassigned to a Chicago 20 minutes before I was due for my briefing. Arrived in ORD dressed for the African summer.
As for things you don’t know, almost always we pick our BFF or Boyfriend for the flight who is simply the most attractive guy on the plane, just for a bit of fun. We also discuss amongst us how nice our ‘side’ is. On wide-body aircraft there’s 2 aisles and we work each side. Once we’ve done the initial drinks round we often have a casual chat over what they’re like; “My side is pretty nice, they’re drinking a lot of stuff though. 34D is a jerk but there’s a family of four at the front who are lovely.”
If you drink too much and we cut you off when you ask for your fourth double in an hour, don’t try and pull the wool over our eyes and ask someone else. We know about you, the onboard manager will know about you, and the Captain will know about you. As soon as I cut someone off I let the crew working with me know that I’ve stopped giving 28B drinks. When the manager calls us (every half an hour at my airline) we let them know that 28B has been cut off, and in turn they’ll let the Captain know. It’s nothing major but I don’t think a lot of people realize how much we keep the flight deck in the loop on everything that’s going on.
1. Just Pick One
When I am talking to you and you are not bothered to take off your earphones.
Me: Good afternoon, would you like steamed ginger fish or teriyaki chicken?
Passenger: (Not even bothered to take off his earphones) Huh?
Me: Steamed ginger fish or teriyaki chicken?
Passenger: (Lower the volume but earphones still plugged in) What is that?
Me: (Motioning for them to take off their earphones) Dead fish or over marinated chicken? Which is which?
Cue other passengers snickering.
Passenger: Oh I’m sorry. (Finally taking off their earphones) What’s that you were saying?
Me: Fish or chicken? Rice or rice?
Passenger: Do you have beef instead?
In this line of work, I rarely stumble upon people who can read lips well, so please don’t attempt that when you’re no expert in doing so.
Sometimes I purposely say the menu out loud to the first row I serve so that people sitting two or three rows behind could hear me and start deliberating on which dish you would like to have. Especially when the flight has tons of families traveling together. Kids often can’t wait for their meals like adults do.
Actually, I have seen adults behaving worse than kids. It’s fine. Sorry kiddo, you are raised way better than some of these folks.
Also, it’s common courtesy. Would you talk to anyone while listening to music with earphones plug still in your ear?
You would not. So what makes me less than a person?
I addressed you, like you, I pointed at you. Can you please remove the earphones? I really don’t have the luxury to stand beside you for five full minutes while you attempt to read my lips and eventually ask me to pull things out of my arse.
I have got options. Pick from the options. If it’s not stated there, that means it’s not available. Unless you really have dietary restrictions and for some reasons you forgot to book it beforehand.