More Things Your Flight Attendant Won’t Tell You

Flight attendants reveal their pet peeves and share travel etiquette tips.

By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest | November 2010

1. Do not poke or grab me. I mean it. No one likes to be poked, but it’s even worse on the plane because you’re sitting down and we’re not, so it’s usually in a very personal area.  You would never grab a waitress if you wanted ketchup or a fork, would you?

2. We’re not just being lazy.
Our rules really say we aren’t allowed to lift your luggage into the overhead bin for you, though we can “assist.”

3. Is it that difficult to say hello and goodbye? We say it 300 times on every flight, and only about 40 people respond.

4. I don’t care if you want to be in the mile-high club, keep your clothes on. Who decided the mile-high club was something that everyone wants to do anyway?  It’s cramped and dirty in those bathrooms.

5. If you hear us paging for a doctor or see us running around with oxygen, defibrillators and first aid kits, that’s not the right time to ask for a blanket or a Diet Coke.

6. The only place you are allowed to pee on the airplane is in the lavatory. Period.

7. Don’t ask us if it’s okay to use the lavatories on the ground.  The answer is always yes.  Do you think what goes into the toilet just dumps out onto the tarmac?

8. You really expect me to take your soggy Kleenex? Or your kid’s fully loaded diaper? I’ll be right back with gloves.

9. Sure, I don’t mind waiting while you scour the seatback pocket and the floor for candy wrappers and other garbage, then place them in my bag one by one. I only have 150 other passengers to serve.

10. I’m sorry it’s taking forever to get you a wheelchair, but that’s one thing you can’t blame the airline for. The wheelchair service is subcontracted to the cities we fly into, and it’s obviously not a top priority for many of them.

–Additional reporting by John Clark

See also:
13 Things Your Flight Attendant Isn’t Telling You
13 Things Your Pilot Won’t Tell You
15 Travel Secrets of Veteran Globetrotters

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Sources: Longtime flight attendant, Los Angeles; John Safkow, a San Francisco–based flight attendant and creator of marthastewardess.com; and flight attendant Betty Thesky, author of Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase.

 

  • Your Comments

    • Anonymous

      Flying both domestically and internationally as frequently as I do, Flight Attendants are the most dedicated group of employees I’ve encountered.  They are not paid anywhere near what they are worth and are not even compensated for the numerous sixteen-eighteen hour days they are required to endure…ONLY when the cabin doors are actually CLOSED!
           
      I, for one, would pay more for my ticket if the airline corporations would take better care financially, physically and mentally of those Safety Professionals.  I thank each and EVERY one of them on every flight I take because they are worthy of such gratitude!

    • Hawaiian

      That’s why they are now called Fly Hags… “I’m here for your safety first!” Excuse me, but if this plane has an emergency, Your 50 years of flying and 70 year old mind and body is of no use to me!

      • Happy Travels

        I’ve only encountered one rude flight attendant EVER in my many travels both domestically and internationally, and she made a point to come back and apologize to me for being short with me after things calmed down in the cabin. Everyone’s human, and we all get tired, sick, frustrated, etc. There’s just a point when you make the decision to be the bigger person and take the high road. You never know another person’s story. 

        I have great respect for flight attendants. And I don’t think there’s any problem with an article like this that mentions the things a lot of average travelers can forget so easily. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/allamericankate Helen Dennis

      Ps.  Next article:  ”What the grocery store clerk won’t tell you and see if the American people care”

    • http://www.facebook.com/allamericankate Helen Dennis

      I don’t think that people should treat flight attendants poorly and some of these are just “givens” but I also think that the attitude of the attendant above is a bit crass.

       I suppose it was irritating to you for a person who doesn’t understand how a lavatory works on a plane … I imagine they are only being POLITE to not want to cause a disgusting back up … or whatever their concern is.   It is your job to be an attendant … on a plane…  figure it out and get over it, if none of those highly uneducated, spoiled rotten people  (thanks Capt B) didn’t fly …. you wouldn’t have a job.  Get a new job if this one is so bad!

    • Gengrav

      The TSA people are a million times worse.  I was just travelling with two kids, and in the security line had everything arranged.  When my suitcase came through the machine, it had tipped on its side.  The TSA agent SCREAMED at me about it, in front of everyone.  Right, like I wanted my suitcase to tip.  I had placed it flat, who knows how it ended up on its side, but that is not how I put it through.  I just didn’t say a word, and afterwards my two girls had lots of questions about “why did that lady scream at you?”.  Disgusting behavior. I wouldn’t treat a dog like that.

    • gmcrhia

      I am a frequent flyer, usually 4 sometimes 5 and on a few occasions, 8 flights a week for the past 20 years.  I have witnessed and heard more than most flight attendants and can identify with everything cited by them.  I have had my glasses knocked off and not even an “excuse me” from the passenger with the heavy overstuffed bag.  I wish the airlines charge for carry-on bags, including gate check and free for checked bags at the check-in counter. The boarding process would go so much faster and the flight attendants would not have to announce over and over again that if the bin is closed, it means it is full.
      Yes, I am an elite flyer on several airlines and hope the airlines do not expand the overhead bins I read about this morning.  I also hope the FAA do not change the rules on cellphone usage on flights.
      The worst passengers are the ones flying once or twice a year, paying under $200 for a “L” class ticket and expect to be treated like a first class passenger. I am not upgraded on every flight and some of my flights are on regional jets and turboprops without first class and I have paid $1000 for my seat sitting next to someone complain because beverage service was delayed or not provided because of turbulance.
      Flight attendants did not learn to be load masters for overhead bins and while they have chosen to be in the service industry, they are not waitresses/waiters or servants.  Flight attendants today are not in the “Braniff” mold wearing Gucci uniforms. I have yet to meet a rude flight attendant or gate agent.  They are not miracle workers and cannot control the weather or aircraft malfunctions. 

    • Sfish007

      Articles like these are great. The only problem is the people who are rude and mean passengers will never read these.. I fly 35 weeks out of the year and am amazed at how rude people are and what they expect of the flight attendants.. their first and foremost job is the safety of people. After that, they work to make the time comfortable.. Sadly, some of the rudest people are the folks in first class who feel that that FA is their personal slave. My hats are off to the folks who spend so much time away from their home and family and dont get the respect they deserve.

    • Sfish007

      Articles like these are great. The only problem is the people who are rude and mean passengers will never read these.. I fly 35 weeks out of the year and am amazed at how rude people are and what they expect of the flight attendants.. their first and foremost job is the safety of people. After that, they work to make the time comfortable.. Sadly, some of the rudest people are the folks in first class who feel that that FA is their personal slave. My hats are off to the folks who spend so much time away from their home and family and dont get the respect they deserve.

    • Sfish007

      Articles like these are great. The only problem is the people who are rude and mean passengers will never read these.. I fly 35 weeks out of the year and am amazed at how rude people are and what they expect of the flight attendants.. their first and foremost job is the safety of people. After that, they work to make the time comfortable.. Sadly, some of the rudest people are the folks in first class who feel that that FA is their personal slave. My hats are off to the folks who spend so much time away from their home and family and dont get the respect they deserve.

    • Nash

      With an attitude like this no wonder why flying has lost its appeal.  I have flow over 500 times in the past several years and with many international carriers.  The US carriers are the worst in terms of their attitude towards their customers. 

      • Capt B

        Yeah because the USA flying public is highly uneducated, spoiled rotten and most kids today don’t know how to behave or respect aboard on an airplane….if you’re such a frequent flyer you will have seen this a lot.

      • Flight1025

        First of all, this article is not the attitude of the flight attendant. The title clearly says what they ” WON’T “ tell you. It’s meant to be educational for the flying public !  I am a flight attendant, and could relate to every point in this article, and could add another 50-100 items that I know every flight attendant could relate to.  I go to work with a good attitude, and yet I run into people who degrade and disrespect me. The nice people I am lucky enough to meet inbetween are the one’s who help me get through. You have no idea until you walk in someone else’s shoes what they go through. I never knew what really went on until I got into this profession. Most people would be shocked as to what we go through and what happens on a daily basis. We have so much more stress, and responsibility than you know. People think we are there to serve coke and put their bags away. We are not. Consider all of that a BONUS ! We are there for safety, medical and emergencies. If the airlines could get rid of flight attendants, they would. We are required by the FAA.
        I have given people the clothing out of my bag, missed flight’s home to help people, let them use my cell phone, returned lost items ( at my cost) with sometimes not so much as a simple ”Thank you”. It’s like it’s expected of me to give all of myself to them. I am doing those things as a nice human being, not a flight attendant for the company. You can only give so much of yourself. I have lost so much faith in humanity doing this job.  Despite that, I will show up for my next trip, and greet each person optimistically. Maybe you will be one of those people. Please be respectful. I know I will be.

          

        • Kay Tastrophe

          Yep – and all of that is your job.  If you don’t like it, quit.  It’s a SERVICE industry – some people are always going to be rude – but how you deal with it is up to you.   You can’t do the job without interacting with the people.

          Sounds like you enjoy your job – and that you’re good at it.  I appreciate that.  I have also worked in a service industry, for an international company you’ve all heard of…believe me, when I hear about all the great benefits we get, all the perks, free stuff, etc. I laugh.  I’ve also had people say “don’t know what you could possibly have to complain about…blah. blah,blah”  Ummm,maybe the fact that I have 2 degrees and still make 25% less than the statewide standard for the job, as well as the untold number of unpaid hours and time away from my family, and those non-existent perks and…Oh wait, No one, and I repeat – no one, knows what your job entails…and really, no one cares.

          I also have been treated really crappy by flight attendents…I’ve also met many who tell me about the, 3 snotty attendents and 1 nice one mentality (good cop bad cop)…I had my 3 year old on a plane, she went to the bathroom (I of course took her), then she sat in the wrong seat on the way back (empty plane). I sat by her until I too realized we weren’t in the correct seats, so we got up and moved.  The attendent came quickly over and said in a REALLY snotty voice ”It seems like you’re having trouble sitting still, is there a problem - and if so, perhaps I can make you sit down!” As I tried to explain what had happened, and apologize, she got louder, I then explained that no I was not abusing drugs and getting too jeeped up to sit still (as she insinuated) and the fact that we were up for only the time it took to walk to the lavatory, walk back, sit down, buckle up, stand up, move, sit down and buckle back up – it didn’t seem excessive to me, she cut me off and really loudly said “I don’t care – SIT DOWN OR I WILL GET SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU SIT DOWN” which was kinda funny since she was standing over me as I was sitting down and properly buckled up.

          Then again, I’ve been in first class many times where attendents have taken my young infants and carried them up and down the rows simply because they ‘miss the time when their own children were little.’ which was so sweet!

          What you need to remember, is most people are traveling to a business meeting, away from family, to somewhere they may not want to go (funerals, etc.) and you don’t know their story either – and they don’t know yours…I just went to my Grandma’s funeral and believe me, I’m lucky I was wearing matching shoes I was so distracted, sad and upset…I perhaps didn’t return your greeting (it wasn’t intentional if I didn’t) - but I always say thank you.

        • Aprilg4u

          I highly respect your job and all that you do as a service in plane, I do not know you personally but I have see hoow alot of passangers act with flight attendants and I have see all of the training that flight attendants go through and the back and forth travel is tiresome. I just want you to know I do hear you and respect you.

          • Seat 11B HAPPY Businessman

            I joined the Mile High Club WITH a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight to Chicago last month.

            THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            If I had told myself at 18, that this could have EVER happened, I would have not believed it.  But here I was getting to live out a Cinemax fantasy for real. 

            All of the bad flights I have had don’t count now.  I had one REALLY good one. 

        • Aprilg4u

          I highly respect your job and all that you do as a service in plane, I do not know you personally but I have see hoow alot of passangers act with flight attendants and I have see all of the training that flight attendants go through and the back and forth travel is tiresome. I just want you to know I do hear you and respect you.

        • http://www.facebook.com/allamericankate Helen Dennis

          Not all flight attendants are nice people.  I have had peanuts tossed into my lap, THEY ACTUALLY BOUNCED OFF THE BACK OF THE SEAT IN FRONT OF ME BEFORE THEY LANDED IN MY LAP.  I say thank you and please and when addressed upon arriving or departing, I always respond.  

          There are good and bad but this article just struck me as wrong … every job has good and bad points so when a magazine is presumptuous enough to go on behalf for an entire career field and let everybody know what jerks they are for simply being ignorant, that really ticks me off.  Especially when you consider each and every passenger has paid for this SERVICE.   And not some insignificant fee, we are talking what might be half a months pay for some people.  Maybe they have never flown before, maybe they don’t know what a defibrillator is … 
          Not to mention that when you signed on (even though you understand your job means so little to the airlines) you knew that part of your job was ACTUALLY, to pick up trash and hand out refreshments (if not full meals) to all KINDS OF PEOPLE … nice, rude, etc..   This is just sad to me … you have allowed your representative sample of humanity be frustrated, tired travelers.   
          I do want to say that allowing people to use your own personal property and being the face of kindness in hard situations is ABOVE AND BEYOND and should be commended.  

        • imaguest

          Thank you for all you do flight attendants.  I don’t fly much due to cost, it’s a luxury for me and when I do, I treat everyone with grace and respect. Especially the attendants. I feel people should in general treat others the way they want to be treated and if we all follow this rule, we wouldn’t have such rude, thoughtless people!

        • Sage49

          These complaints are so lame.  Why in the world do you stay at your job?  I was a police officer for a very long time and I had less to complain about than you do.  If you can’t suck it up, just quit.  No body is holding a gun to your head. 

      • Donkeys

         Exactly Nash, I always try to fly on non-US carriers.  Service is ALWAYS better on non-US carriers.  It’s a simple question of expectations. On US flights, space is more cramped, amenities are fewer, and attitude is sharper.