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Tips From a Flight Attendant: How to Be the World's Best Passenger

Travel Jobs Student Work
by Annie Kingston Aug 22, 2014
1. Pack your own overhead compartment and find your own seat.

How many times have I had flights unnecessarily delayed because passengers have boarded the plane only to leave their luggage stranded in the middle of the aisle and plop down in their seats?

Expecting us to put away everyone’s luggage in the overhead compartment is unrealistic, and pointing 400 passengers to their seats is a waste of valuable pre-departure time. If you’re physically able, pack your own luggage away and follow the increasing numbers to your seat.

2. Stick to the carry-on rules.

Unless you’re really old, very short, or physically disabled, why can’t you lift your own luggage and put it in the overhead? Is it because your bag is too large and heavy and shouldn’t be there in the first place? Then why are you telling me this? Because by asking me to do it for you, it’s like ratting yourself out to the teacher…and further delaying the aircraft.

3. Be polite.

It’s amazing how far a simple “please” and “thank you” can go — I know because I delivered your in-flight service based on how kind you were to me. Working on an aircraft, you start to notice the compliments that are much less frequent than complaint forms, and I always give better seats, meal preferences, double drinks, and a selection of limited stocked complimentary items to the passengers who treated me like a fellow human being.

4. Acknowledge our presence.

Passengers always seem oblivious to the fact that when we walk through the cabin, we’re under the spotlight of an uncomfortable number of eyes following our every move: bored and bothered passengers whose stares blatantly wonder what’s taking us so long to serve their meal or take away their tray, along with curious first-time passengers who are just so interested in what’s going on.

So it always blows my mind when I finally approach you with the food cart and you a) refuse to acknowledge me and my massive food cart, or b) don’t know what you want — when we both know the menu’s been the most exciting part of your flight so far.

5. Take the food, it’s free!

I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up flying on North American airlines, but I was shocked and amazed when I first experienced the quality of food and options they have compared with the others. But I was also shocked and amazed at the fuss people would put up about receiving free food.

I can assure you, as part of the cabin service, making sure everyone has enough to eat and has received their meal is challenge enough (please consider how small our kitchen for 300 is compared to your kitchen for six), so if you can take what we have for you, it really helps us appreciate you.

6. Don’t stack your tray.

Here’s the tricky part about my big lumbering meal cart that you don’t ever realize until it becomes your very own office space: There is no room for error when you’re putting 64 trays back into the cart, and there’s no “extra” space on any aircraft that can save you if it all goes awry.

We really appreciate it when you don’t stack your plastic melanin cups, dirty, snotty tissues, and other airport rubbish on top of your tray like a teeter-tottering castle of crap. Just organize your tray back to exactly how you found it (place plastic sippy orange juice cup back into empty plastic tea cup) and kindly pass it our way.

7. Use the “Wake Me Up” sticker.

Most long-haul flights provide passengers with a colourful sticker set that’s usually found in either your free headset case or in your complimentary toiletry bag. If you ever come across a set of the two stickers that say “Wake Me Up For Service” and “Please Do Not Disturb,” be the world’s best passenger and declare one on your seat.

I absolutely hated shaking awake countless strangers who were drooling and confused, angry, and startled when I woke them from their sleeping-pill-induced comas to offer food they didn’t want. But it’s my job and I have to ask since we can’t reheat the meals when you wake up, and because when you fly in economy you eat when I say you eat.

In business class, the passenger has the luxury of choosing when they’d like to eat, but since you didn’t pay for that ticket and are back here in the zoo, I’m stuck being the first face you see when you wake up somewhere over the Pacific, disoriented and hangry.

8. Come to the back.

“Monkey see, monkey do” is one of the basic observations of working on an airplane, and bringing a rum-and-coke to 14D as opposed to 48C has its obvious drawbacks. If you’d like anything to snack on, another drink, or need a forgotten toiletry item, please come to the galley at the back of the aircraft, where we’d be so much happier to help you out (if you promise not to tell anybody).

9. Hand me your headset when I ask…

I know you don’t want to and I can appreciate that there’s 20 minutes left in your movie and 20 minutes left in the flight. But when I’m preparing the cabin for landing so you can arrive in Mauritius and go on vacation and you’re making a huge fuss about returning your free headset and missing the end of Frozen, you really are the worst passenger.

The reason we must have your headset stat is that landing is one of the most crucial phases of flight and we need to have every passenger alert and situationally aware in case of an emergency evacuation. We also don’t want you getting tangled in the long headset chords and trapped on a burning aircraft should we need to evacuate. So give me a break, man, and may I please have your headset?

10. …and your blanket.
11. Don’t ask me if I’d like to join the Mile High Club.

That’s lame.

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