17 Things to Never Say to Flight Attendants
Flight attendants have seen it all and heard it all. Professionally trained and highly experienced by the time they’re ever on a flight with you, there’s not much that can surprise them. But it turns out there’s quite a lot that can annoy them…
“It fit on my last flight…”
“One of my favorites was the passengers who insisted that the oversized bags they were trying to stuff under a seat or into an overhead bin should be allowed onboard as a carry-on because ‘it fit on my last flight,’” Candace Johnson, a flight attendant for American Airlines during the late 1970s and early 1980s, tells Reader’s Digest. “No, it doesn’t because it didn’t. Now go check that bag and stop wasting our time.” The size of your carry-on bag is not the only thing your flight attendant first notices about you.
“Can you help get my bag up?”
Johnson also points out that if you can’t lift/carry your own carry-on, then you really shouldn’t consider it a “carry-on.” Check it instead, rather than asking your flight attendant for assistance. It’s actually not their job to do your heavy lifting.
Don’t ask them to babysit
Flight attendants aren’t trained governesses, nannies, or even babysitters. And if they wanted to have any of those jobs, they wouldn’t be flight attendants, you can safely assume. Not only should you never ask a flight attendant to help you watch your kid(s), they should never agree to do so. Besides, it’s one of the top 15 pet peeves of flight attendants.
“You should smile!”
A flight attendant’s job is to provide routine services to airplane passengers and to prepare and respond to flight-related emergencies. And while they may serve food and beverages on flights, the services are extremely limited, so they’re not “waitstaff” either. Nor are they there to entertain you. That’s why it can really make a flight attendant’s blood boil if you tell them to “smile,” Johnson says. “Would you go to anyone else’s job and tell them to smile?”
“My nickname is Candie, that’s what my name tag read,” Johnson tells Reader’s Digest. Unfortunately, that seemed to some passengers an invitation to make jokes (that were never funny to Johnson). “I lost track of how many male passengers told me, ‘candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.’” Johnson tended to plaster a smile on her face just to make the moment a little less awkward.
“Can you give me a massage?”
“I met a number of famous people while working, and most were polite and appreciative,” Johnson recalls, “but the grossest one I met was the CEO of a famous catalog company who was flying in first class and asked me for a foot massage after his dinner.” No. Just no. On the other hand, this one word will get your flight attendant to like you.
“Why isn’t there a meal?”
As Johnson explains, flight attendants don’t have a say in what food or beverages are served, nor in whether there even will be food/beverages, nor in when the service is scheduled to begin and end. Other things to skip: If the choice is chicken or pasta, don’t ask for another option. Or if you feel the food/beverage service is coming at a time that’s inconvenient for you, just keep that to yourself.
Flight attendants can be male or female, and that’s your first hint that the word “stewardess” is no longer appropriate in this day and age. Calling a flight attendant a “stewardess” is about as acceptable as lighting up a cigarette on a plane and about as desirable as getting decked out in your fanciest clothes for your flight. All of these are vestiges of the early days of aviation, and none belongs in the present day.
“Will I make my connection?”
You wouldn’t ask your flight attendant when you’ll get married or how old you’ll be when you die. That’s because flight attendants aren’t psychics—though that hasn’t stopped them from getting some pretty crazy requests. You know what else they can’t predict? Whether your flight will arrive, land, and deplane in time for you to make your connection. This is particularly true when your plane has not yet even taken off.