20 Things You’re Probably Doing on a Plane That Flight Attendants Wouldn’t
Flight attendants know a thing or two about how to travel well. These smart tips will make your future flights exponentially better.
Learn from the professionals
No matter how many times you’ve flown the friendly skies, you haven’t done it as much as a flight attendant. And that means you likely have something to learn, including these 13 travel secrets only flight attendants know. The flight attendants we spoke with know a thing or two about what it takes to stay healthy, rested, and happy on a flight—as well as how to be a considerate traveler. If you’re engaging in any of the following behaviors, it’s time to change things up so you can have a better travel experience every time you fly.
Staying glued to your seat
“When the seat belt sign is off, walk throughout the cabin to get the circulation going in your legs,” says Emirates cabin crew member Lauren Guilfoyle. “And remember to stretch a few times throughout the flight to get your muscles loosened up and the blood circulation going.” Not only might you start to get stiff and/or stir-crazy if you don’t get up, but you could also be endangering your health. On a long flight, in particular, a lack of movement can put you at an increased risk for developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a potentially deadly blood clot, according to the CDC. Simply getting up and moving around can reduce that risk.
Stuck against the window with a sleeping seatmate on the aisle? No worries. “When seated, motion each letter of the alphabet with your foot to get the blood flowing and avoid ankle swelling,” Guilfoyle suggests. “Circulatory exercises will keep your cheeks looking rosy and make you look more awake when you de-board.” Here’s what it is like to be a flight attendant for the world’s best airline.
Falling asleep unbuckled
A domestic flight attendant we’ll call Suzanne says that neither she nor her colleagues would ever “fall asleep with our seat belts off.” Why? She poses this rhetorical question: “Do you want to hit the ceiling?!” before noting her frustration at passengers who get mad at her for “having to poke them to wake them up and make sure their seat belt is on.” You never know when the plane will hit turbulence or experience some other unexpected emergency, so it’s always best to be safe while you snooze. That said, some other flight problems might be minimized on the best airlines in America.
Drinking too much alcohol
“When you’re flying long-haul, the number one rule is to drink plenty of water because the air circulation can dry out your skin,” says Guilfoyle. Flight attendants obviously don’t drink while on the job, but they tend to steer clear of adult beverages when flying as passengers, too. In addition to keeping their skin hydrated, they also want to avoid a restless struggle to fall sleep on board. Plus, “a plane hangover is more merciless than one on land.” Guilfoyle also suggests avoiding caffeinated drinks and instead sticking to water and fruit juices. And before you even get on the plane, make sure you’re not making these 16 airport mistakes.
Drinking coffee or hot tea
You probably won’t see a flight attendant drinking the coffee or tea on board a flight, no matter how tired they are, says an international flight attendant using the pseudonym Rebecca for this interview. “We really don’t know how good or clean the filter system is in the plane, therefore I don’t know where exactly that hot water is coming from to make the coffee and tea,” she explains. Should you chow down on your flight? Maybe. It depends if you’re flying on one of these 13 airlines with the best (and worst) food.
Walking barefoot around the cabin
While the cabin of each plane is cleaned before every flight, germs can still linger on the floor. And while Guilfoyle says that’s a big reason flight attendants would never walk around the cabin without shoes, it’s not the only reason. “Sometimes glasses are dropped and broken, or our youngest travelers leave crumbs, so there could be sharp objects and food on the floor,” she says. And if you’re on Emirates, there’s literally no reason to walk around barefoot—or to feel like you’re wanting for anything. Their flights have great amenity kits full of comfy and hygienic items like socks, moisturizing pajamas, and bathroom essentials. If you want to be treated right during your flight, check out these 20 airlines that are best for customer service.
Flight attendants would never ignore the repeated trips their colleagues make up and down the aisle with trash bags, especially as the plane approaches its destination. They are there and ready to collect all your protein-bar wrappers, breakfast-sandwich packaging, and folded-up newspapers. All you have to do is hand them over. First of all, it’s the polite thing to do, since otherwise, it will create more work for the cabin crew. Second, flight attendants know that turning over the plane must be done swiftly to ensure the next flight departs on time. One way to make this process smoother is to not have passengers leaving their seat, floor area, and seat-back pocket littered with garbage. What else are you doing that’s annoying? These are the 13 pet peeves all flight attendants have.
Asking for multiple beverages
Rebecca says that there’s no way a flight attendant, when flying as a passenger, would ever ask for multiple drinks—or worse, ask what there is to drink on board. In Rebecca’s words: “We have over 200 passengers to get to, so the last thing we want to hear when we finally get to your row is: ‘What do you have?’ Or, ‘Can I have three different drinks—one with ice, one without ice, and a coffee?’” Remember that they are flight attendants with multiple important responsibilities, not your personal bartenders. On the flip side, there’s really just one word you need to say to get your flight attendant to like you.
Engaging in bad bathroom habits
According to Rebecca, no one who spends their professional life on airplanes would ever exhibit the bad bathroom habits some passengers do. This includes not flushing the toilet, not washing hands (gross), and—possibly worse of all, especially on a night flight—leaving the bathroom door open upon exiting. While you obviously can’t control your fellow passengers, you have a better chance of having a good flight on one of the cleanest airlines in the world.
Forgetting your manners
Common courtesies aren’t as common as you might think. So don’t forget to say simple things like, “May I…,” “Please,” and “Thank you,” during in-flight beverage service and whenever else the situation calls for it. One Delta flight attendant remarked that she rarely hears passengers using their manners, so you can be sure that flight attendants are not forgetting theirs when flying. Here are 22 things your flight attendant won’t tell you.