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22 Things Your Flight Attendant Won’t Tell You

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


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.


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. By the way, this is what your flight attendant first notices about you.


We don’t have a boyfriend in every city

And our median age these days is 44.


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? But in all honesty, you probably shouldn’t order coffee on a plane.


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. These are the other things you should never do on an airplane.


The lavatory door is not rocket science

Just push.


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. Here are some other little flying etiquette rules you know.

iStock/Anna Bryukhanova

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!


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. Here are some more tips to know before your next flight.


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?


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. Don’t miss these common myths about airplanes you need to stop believing.


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?


Is it that difficult to say hello and goodbye?

We say it 300 times on every flight, and only about 40 people respond—saying “hello” is really the one word you need to get your flight attendant to like you. Don’t miss these 13 things airlines won’t tell you (but every flier should know).


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?


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.” Try these tips for packing light when bringing a carry-on.


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.

iStock/sercan samanci

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. Make sure you know these 12 golden rules of stress-free air travel.


The only place you are allowed to pee…

…on the airplane is in the lavatory. Period.

iStock/Ugurhan Betin

Don’t ask us if it’s OK 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? Check out these hidden airplane features had no idea existed.


You really expect me to take your soggy Kleenex?

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


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. Check out these other pet peeves of flight attendants.


I’m sorry it’s taking forever to get you a wheelchair

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. Want more insider air travel info? These are the secrets your airplane pilot won’t tell you.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest