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How to Piss Off a Flight Attendant

Student Work
by Monica Williams Mar 21, 2014

The friendly skies aren’t as friendly as they used to be. Security checks, limited snacks, and cramped cabins have made it hard out here for a passenger. But it’s even worse for a flight attendant. I should know — I was a US-based airline worker for 3 years, and I can tell you exactly what’ll make your flight attendant a lot more unpleasant.

Refuse to turn off your cellphone after the door has been closed.

What passengers might not know is that flight attendants can be fined up to $10,000 for ignoring federal safety regulations, so there’s no way we’ll just let it slide. Want to start off your flight on the wrong foot? Don’t listen to us when we ask you to hang up the phone and turn it off.

If you don’t comply, you could be charged with breaking the law. Rather spend two to five years in prison? That phone call had better be worth it.

Ask for a buddy pass.

How often do people bug airline employees about companion or buddy passes? Only on days that end in “y.” Most of those requests are from distant acquaintances, like the mail carrier, a taxi driver, or the pastor’s sister’s third cousin.

Unfortunately, employees are often allotted only enough companion passes for a spouse or partner. While buddy passes are a bit more plentiful, they’re typically reserved for the kid, Dad, Grandma, niece, or BFF who rarely gets to see their oft-gone loved one. So unless you’re one of those people, save up some money for a cheap flight instead.

Pretend you’re in a floating restaurant.

Most airplanes have a limited supply of food, or just enough for the plane to reach the next hub. While flight attendants can understand that you might be hungry or thirsty after a long walk to the gate, there isn’t enough food for you to stuff yourself non-stop.

And don’t assume we’re holding out on you. Flights are restricted to just what’s on the menu. Because meals are prepared on the ground before takeoff and aren’t exactly the freshest, food safety is always a huge concern. Can you imagine what would happen if 200 or so passengers all developed food poisoning at once? Yeah, it’s probably best to get your lobster, squid, and made-to-order smoothies before you board.

Treat the aircraft like a playground or daycare center.

While flying cross country might be a perfect time to catch up on Family Guy reruns, it doesn’t mean Junior has free rein to use the aisle as racetrack or playpen. Do you know the last time airplane carpets have been cleaned? No? Neither does your flight attendant.

Also, if you’re traveling with a child and are constantly hearing bells, make sure Junior isn’t leaning on the call button.

Ask what city you’re flying over.

I’m a flight attendant, not a tour guide. I’ve got no clue. Why don’t you ask the captain? Ignore that. Keep your fingers off the button.

Perform yoga stretches in the galley and in the aisles where we’re working.

Really? Chances are slim you’ll develop deep vein thrombosis between LA and San Francisco. Have a seat so I can move this food cart.

Poke, pull, prod, or push us.

Would you poke a restaurant waiter if you wanted a glass of water? Then why do you think it’s OK to poke a flight attendant?

Think about it: If you’re sitting and the flight attendant is standing, chances are you’re poking in an inappropriate place. Keep your fingers to yourself.

Leave the essentials at home.

Traveling with a baby? Pack the diapers and a pacifier. Asthmatic? Take an inhaler. If you’re traveling overseas and need to fill out immigration forms, it’s a good idea to take a pen, no?

Drag your oversized, overpacked luggage from your home to the airport and onto the plane — and then say you can’t lift it into the bin.

Well, technically, flight attendants can’t either.

Some airlines prohibit flight attendants from lifting baggage into overhead bins, as it can lead to an on-the-job injury that insurance won’t cover. And with baggage fees being what they are these days, people are rolling through the airport with everything but the kitchen sink. If you can’t lift it, what makes you think a 120-pound flight attendant can?

You packed it, you lift it. Also, when you get it to the overhead bin, please make sure it isn’t sticking out five inches. If it is, it’s getting checked.

Ask us to call another plane and request they hold your connecting flight.

Sure, because your appointment is more important than the appointments of everyone else on the connecting aircraft.

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