13+ Things Your Flight Attendant Won’t Tell You

These secrets about air travel will make flying a happier, safer experience for all.

By Michelle Crouch
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine November 2010
  • Loading

    1. Want to start off on the wrong foot with me?

    Put your carry-on in a full overhead bin, leave it sticking out six inches, then take your seat at the window and wait for someone else (me!) to come along and solve the physics problem you just created.

    2. Yes, passengers are incredibly rude...

    but stealing a beer, cursing out passengers, and jumping out of a plane is not the way to handle it. You disarm an unruly passenger by introducing yourself, asking his name, and saying something like ‘I’ve been incredibly nice to you for three hours. Why are you treating me like this?’ Generally that gets the other passengers on your side—and sometimes they’ll even applaud.

    3. We don't have a boyfriend in every city.

    And our median age these days is 44.

    4. An all-too-common scenario?

    I hand you a cup of coffee and say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ I say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ Come on, people. What do you think we’re going to ask after we’ve handed you coffee? Your favorite color?

    5. If you’re traveling with a small child and you keep hearing bells, bells, and more bells,

    please look to see if it’s your child playing with the flight attendant call bell.

    6. The lavatory door is not rocket science.

    Just push.

    7. If you have a baby, bring diapers.

    If you’re diabetic, bring syringes. If you have high blood pressure, don’t forget your medication. That way, I’m not trying to make a diaper out of a sanitary pad and a pillowcase or asking over the intercom if someone has a spare inhaler.

    8. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there are other people on the airplane besides you.

    So don’t clip your toenails, snore with wild abandon, or do any type of personal business under a blanket!

    9. If you’re traveling overseas, do yourself a favor and bring a pen.

    You would not believe how many people travel without one, and you need one to fill out the immigration forms. I carry some, but I can’t carry 200.

    10. Passengers are always coming up to me and tattling on each other.

    ‘Can you tell him to put his seat up?’ ‘She won’t share the armrest.’ What am I, a preschool teacher?

    11. I hate working flights to destinations like Vail and West Palm Beach.

    The passengers all think they’re in first class even if they’re not. They don’t do what we ask. And the overhead bins are full of their mink coats.

    12. Do you really have to go to the bathroom right now, while we’re wrestling a 250-pound food cart down the aisle?

    You can’t wait 90 seconds for us to pass?

    13. Is it that difficult to say hello and goodbye?

    We say it 300 times on every flight, and only about 40 people respond.

    14. 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?

    15. 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.”

    16. 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.

    17. 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.

    18. The only place you are allowed to pee

    on the airplane is in the lavatory. Period.

    19. 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?

    20. You really expect me to take your soggy Kleenex?

    Or your kid’s fully loaded diaper? I’ll be right back with gloves.

    21. 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.

    22. 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.


    Become more interesting every week!

    Get our Read Up newsletter

    Sending Message
    how we use your e-mail

    Your Comments

    • julius rosen

      Very funny – but some attendants are down right rude back to us CUSTOMERS

    • Kathy

      This is a job that is not required anymore, certainly not in the numbers that they pack the aircraft with. Might as well have vending machines installed in the aircraft and fire all these attendants… They don’t attend to anything anyway.

      • Glorified servants

        AMEN. They are useless. I would get better service from a vending
        machine. Us coach-flying scum can help ourselves to the automated
        pillow and blanket dispensers while the stewardesses wipe the butts of
        the passengers in first class.

      • LaineyD

        Do let us know what happens when you have a coronary at 30,000 feet.

      • Ronnie Binge

        I agree, they close a bunch of little doors, get the first wave of soda served with a grumpy rude attitude finally done being served when the flight is 90% over. Almost completely useless, usually rude.

        • Jolie Joseph Rahn

          Dang dude! What’s eating you? and what freaking airline are you traversing where you have nothing but such ill will and disdain for the flight attendants? That is the impression you are throwing out there on the board

    • mauipete

      Nobody cares what those losers think. Theirs is a job no longer needed.

    • DNADEB

      These things should be obvious to anyone! I admire her sarcastic tone because that is how I feel when I observe idiots around me on a plane acting just as is mentioned in the article. Do they leave their brains in the terminal? Or are they just spoiled? Frankly, I think there are a lot of people who should just stay home.

    • Endoxa52

      No wonder Reader’s Digest has lost many subscribers…

    • Frequent Flyer

      The person writing this article needs to be less sarcastic if she wants to make her points, some of which are valid – it’s not funny, it’s annoying, and I have less sympathy for her. Many people don’t greet the flight attendants because the service has become so poor at many US airlines. These flight attendants need to sit on some international airlines, especially the Asian ones, to see what real service as like.

    • JWag

      At least the hot ones give good head.

      • who, me?

        But those relics who’ve been working since the 80′s aren’t so bad either if they pop out their false teeth.

    • jp

      I fly every week, and though certain passengers at certain times are ridiculous, the attitude that this artical exhudes is exactly the problem with a large percentage of flight attendants these days; i.e. sarcastic, rude and a holier than thou attitude. We all have a job to do, might as well do it well.

    • moleculethecat

      Last time I asked where the plane was going, the waitress smiled at me and asked “Would you like a drink”?

    • TheAncientAviator

      I fly about 115k a year. A few FAs are very good, several are very bad, and most are average. Yes, some of the people that pay your salary are jerks, but most aren’t. And if you think your main job is for my safety you are mistaken. Based on historic data the odds that you will be called on “for my safety” are less than 1% in a career. This means over 99% of the time your job is to minimize the hassle and discomfort that constitutes today’s flying for the people paying your salary. If you don’t like doing your job, quit. No one is making you stay.