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
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    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.


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    Your Comments

    • Lovenia Johnson

      Since they stopped being Stewardesses they aren’t trained well enough to know anything worth learning,secret or not.

    • ThatBaldGuy

      “This job would be great if it wasn’t for the f*cking customers.”
      - Randal Graves

    • dre limads

      i like hot attendants

    • funkytown

      I wish to again….publicly thank the flight attendants who allowed me to stand up during most of my flight over to Europe a couple of years ago. I did not wish to insult the gentle wonderful man that was seated next to me and I did NOT want him to think I was being judgmental….but he had halitosis so bad AND his clothes literally wreaked of body and gas oil (he told me that he was an oil furnace mechanic). I tried so hard to stay seated…..I found his stories about how happy his family in (the country he was headed to) was going to be when he got to the wedding (since they had no idea he was coming) and how much he was missed, wonderfully fascinating but I started to dry heave and thought I was going to be sick all over the two of us. To our wonderfully sympathetic flight attendants, THANK YOU!! I know you didn’t have to let me stand in the back galley, in your way, as you tried to prepare and pass out food to the passengers. I know I was probably breaking every rule you had. Still…..thank you for not being mean to me and forcing me to adhere to the rules……Sincerely, Forever Grateful

      • MyNameIsTaken

        Most flight attendants are very kind and willing to help. I also have to stand when on a long flight. Between my lower back and bad knees, it is tough to stay in the same position for more than a few minutes. Last European flight I took, I stood at the back galley, talked with the attendants and helped them when I could. I appreciated it very much and so did they. One handed me a bag of nip bottles at the end of the flight. That was the most pleasant flight I ever took, thanks to the kindness of the attendants and their willingness to help make me comfortable. Most are wonderful people.

    • James

      Yes, I agree that some people are very rude on flights but if you wanted to be a flight attendant so bad than you should’ve seen some of this coming.

    • Raklph

      Why don’t they hire some hot 19 to 25 year old’s and the men would sit and air dry their tongues

    • Sharing my secret

      I guess it’s time for passengers (customers) to list their complaints so that inattentive attendants learn our ‘secrets.’ Once I flew from Hawaii to California. When it came time for the seatbelt demo, one attendant accused another of stealing her seatbelt extender. The accused denied it. They argued throughout the demo briefing and, as a bonus, did everything possible to make each other’s life miserable for the next four hours. Of course, the passengers got the brunt of the mischief. And yes, I’ve had excellent attendants, but this flight should have been listed in the Hall of Shame.

    • Chili Robinson

      I am 70 and like most men at that age, I have enlarged prostate. From the time we push away from the gate until we are at 27,000 feet in smooth weather is about 45 minutes.
      From beginning our descent until we can use the bathroom in the terminal is another 45 minutes. “Can’t you wait for another 90 seconds?” The answer is, “No! No, not without wetting my pants and your seat.”

    • SRSLY

      TBH all the flight attendants are just air waitresses, your not that great, either. Work as a receptionist and all of you complain about getting your ” crew rest ” you are NOT flying a plane, your dealing with people like every other customer service job. Take the stick out of your behind and notice your just a glamorized waitress. SRSLY.

      • MyNameIsTaken

        I don’t think there is much glamour in their jobs considering how rude some, but not most by any means, passengers can be and how hard the attendants try to appease some demanding fool who wants to be difficult.

        Flying sucks and I see no need to take our tempers out on these men and women who are trying to make our experience as pleasant as possible.

    • kevin payne

      here is one thing this passenger says to your 13 secrets of a flight attendant: Nobody cares about what bothers you on flights. We are the customers, stop treating us like intruders.