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

    • kateexists

      If you act like you work fast food, you should be paid like you work fast food. Having spent years living and traveling with incredibly well behaved children, I experienced many good and bad flights. Some of the american stewardesses were incredibly rude, while the european crew were different. Maybe the european crew were briefed on the 10s of thousands of dollars we were spending per flight.
      Go work fast food you silly, rude , lazy people.

    • Stacey Noel

      Ridiculous article. You get paid to do a job.

    • Clifford

      Wow, what a snarky whiner. Sometimes people just really don’t want to be bothered by their job. You applied for it, now deal with it. Your points are valid, but your attitude is unpleasant.

    • Billeebong

      …and the number one mantra of a flight attendant is “a problem that walks away is a problem solved”

    • Shawneuser

      This is pretty much a waste.

      I can save you all time and sum up this entire article succinctly.

      Don’t be a jackass.

      I worked customer service for years, and I know, people suck.

    • Gabriella

      I agree with most of the advice; however, when a passenger is kicking the back of my seat or not behaving politely and courteously, I think it is up to the flight attendant to take care of it, should I complain. Why? Because many times, the request is better received when it’s from a FA as opposed to the passenger complaining. It’s not about having to be a “preschool” teacher. Would you prefer the passengers get into an argument, or would it be easier for you to politely tell the passenger causing the problem to stop. Many times it’s about another passenger’s child causing problems. Seems to be it would be better handled by an objective party.

    • Listen up…

      Look at the top of this article. It was first published back in Nov 2010. Talk about a rerun. Not exactly a literary jewel in need of reprint.

    • joshzzz

      Very interesting.

    • Patricia Ann Cousins

      What a bunch of thoughtless comments. It seems to me that ‘ flight attendants’ have totally forgotten that theirs is a service profession. Maybe they are used to working in an area where there is so much noise that one has to yell to be heard but most passengers are not. I know that I cannot reach the call button from my seat so I am sure that most children cannot do so either. I am pretty sure that passengers are not sitting there thinking up ways to annoy you. Air travel these days is uncomfortable, awkward and over-all pretty miserable. We are not having a good time. Attendants are often rude and brusk. Helping out is the reason you are there, it’s your job. Deal with it or find another one.

    • Lonesome Louie

      I remember when flying used to be an enjoyable means of travel—about 25 years ago.  Now it seems that planes are populated by crass people with no manners.  I sympathize with air crew and what they have to put up with from passengers.