Want to be an awesome airline passenger and have the flight attendants fawning all over your awesomeness? Discover your inner Up In The Air by following my awesome tips.
1. Acknowledge the crew’s existence.
When you board the aircraft and a smiling flight attendant kindly greets you, reciprocating the pleasantry is all it takes to start your trip off on an awesome foot. While I’m aware that this sounds incredibly rudimentary and a matter of basic manners, it isn’t uncommon for passengers to completely ignore the crew during boarding. We truly make an effort to ensure that you feel welcomed and sincerely want you to enjoy the flight. When we say “Hello”, “Welcome aboard” or the like, and get zilch in return – it gets old. Quickly. Sometimes it can even make my head want to spontaneously explode.
If a passenger is kind enough to make eye contact, I can at least use that simple act to confirm to myself that I am in fact not an apparition living in some sort or parallel universe. So hey, thanks in advance if you give me a quick glance. It may not seem like much but I will take anything I can get on days when every other person is ignoring me, plus it potentially saves me truckloads of money on crazy pills.
2. Pay Attention.
I can promise you that we do not make announcements just to listen to ourselves speak. Okay, full disclosure here, some FAs might, and we all hate working with them. It’s embarrassing and we’re stuck listening to them along with you. Not for nothing, by the end of a trip I can barely stand the sound of my own voice (let alone most times), but I digress.
As most of you are already aware, the safety demonstration is something mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration; and with this it is required to take place prior to every flight. So, you say that you travel a lot and have watched our little safety dance more times than you care to count? We totally get it, however, we do ask for a little graciousness. Be awesome by setting an awesome example for future awesome passengers. If that 3 minutes of fake-watching is an impossibility for you – at the very least kindly sit quietly and give your fellow (awesome) passengers the opportunity to watch and listen if they wish to do so.
And to those passengers who think it’s cute to blurt out “if we crash we’re all gonna die anyway” during the middle of me doing my thing – stop it. It isn’t cute, funny or remotely accurate. Out of the collective 53,487 people involved in plane crashes in the U.S. from 1983 to 2000, 51,207 survived. That is a 96% survival rate. Yes. NINETY. SIX. PERCENT.
Other important announcements will be made throughout your flight including those regarding beverage and meal options. If you’re jamming to some tunes on your iPhone and out of the corner of your eye you notice a flight attendant standing in the the aisle with their hands on a large metal beverage cart – I can pretty much guarantee that they aren’t stopping at each row to inquire what everyone’s favorite movie or color is.
Kindly remove your earbuds when addressing or responding to said flight attendant. Also that look of bewilderment (as to why we’re there as we hand out drinks to all of your neighbors) confuses and annoys us. This is a huge pet peeve of crewmembers.
And on the same “pay attention” tip – this is the part of the article where I beg you to listen to the announcement and/or read the Inflight Magazine/Menu. This will help to prevent us from saying “Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sprite, Diet Sprite, Sprite Zero, Ginger Ale, Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Cranapple Juice, Tomato Juice, Spicy Tomato Juice, Club Soda, Seltzer Water, Tonic Water” 150 times to people sitting within earshot of our reply to “What do you have?” from their neighbors. This tip will also assist you in getting your favorite drink in a more timely manner. So here I am begging you. BEGGING. Have a heart, fellow human beings.
3. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
Please don’t touch, poke, pinch, tap, or pull at our clothing. Yes this actually happens. Flailing your arms in the air, yelling, snapping your fingers (oh HELL no!) or shaking the ice in your empty cup will not work either. A simple “excuse me miss/sir” works wonders.
As far as feet go, please keep them off of the bulkheads, tray tables, and the seats and armrests of fellow travelers. It is rude and inconsiderate. While we do expect you to get comfortable, purchasing a ticket does not entitle you to treat the cabin like your home. It is a multi-million dollar piece of equipment that we would like to keep awesome for as long as possible. Plus, feet.
Also please keep in mind that the aisle of the aircraft is not an extension of your seat, or the area designated to read your USA Today. It is the workspace of your hardworking flight attendants. We don’t want to fall on our face after tripping over your foot, nor do we want to cause a compound tib/fib fracture after accidentally running into your leg with that 250-lb cart we’re schlepping around.
<Edit: This is not directed toward tall people! Calm down, folks.>
4. Recognize that you are not the only person on the plane.
When placing requests with the flight attendants kindly keep in mind that you are not the only person on the airplane. If it takes a few minutes to have your request met, it could very well be that while on our walk to the galley 38 people stopped us to ask for a refill, snack, pillow, etc.
On all commercial carriers there is 1:50 flight attendant to passenger ratio.
5. Wear socks.
Flying commercially is a method of public transportation. The keyword here being public. The airplane isn’t your living room. Please don’t be these people.
(Photo courtesy of Passenger Shaming)
6. Keep it moving.
We’ve all been stuck behind “that guy”. You know, the one who plops their suitcase down in the middle of the aisle, unzips it, then riffles through its contents searching for any possible item they think could be of use during their flight. Not only can that behavior cause a delay in leaving the gate, but it will also make you not awesome (and an enemy of your fellow fliers).
Trust me, no one expects you to get completely situated in a matter of seconds, however a minute’s worth of pre-planning can save the day for all involved. If you know that you will be using your sweater, book, iPad, etc., prior to boarding place them in an exterior, easily accessible pocket of you bag. Once you reach your row, pull out said items and throw them onto your seat, then quickly stow your luggage in the overhead bin. Hey! Look at you, you’re practically a travel expert now!
7. Be aware of your surroundings.
If you see sweaty crewmembers frantically running up and down the aisles whilst carrying medical equipment and asking if there is a physician on board, more than likely they are unable to get you that refill on your Coke right away.
Moreover if you happen upon one of us performing CPR on a fellow passenger, you’re on your own locating a pillow.
8. If you are traveling with a small child, don’t change their diaper at your seat or on a tray table.
Most plane’s lavatories are equipped with fold-down changing tables. If you are unsure about your specific aircraft, just ask.
Yes, it may be close quarters – however do the rest of the passengers a solid (!!) by not forcing them to inhale human excrement fumes while attempting to consume their meal. It’s an enclosed cabin with recirculated air. Meals are served inside of said cabin on said tray tables. Do the math, folks.
BONUS TIP: Please dispose of diapers properly. Hint: the seatback pocket is not considered proper disposal.
9. Flush the toilet.
For the love of all things holy, please do this. Also if you could close the door behind you that would be awesome too.
10. Go with the flow.
We can’t do anything about the weather, running out of your first meal choice mid-flight or excessive air traffic.
While we totally understand being frustrated; there is nothing that a flight attendant at 35,000 feet can do to rectify your seat pitch, available legroom or the pop-up thunderstorm the pilots are attempting to avoid. While I appreciate that some passengers feel we are powerful enough to control the weather, airplane configuration and air traffic, unfortunately we are not.
Hang tight and go with the flow. Ultimately we all have the same goal in mind – to arrive at our destination safely.
BONUS: Give thanks.
A sincere “thank you” from a kind traveler can truly make a difference. And trust me when I say this – we are incredibly thankful to have awesome passengers like you on board!
While I am not by any means suggesting that the following is compulsory, I receive numerous requests from thoughtful passengers who ask me what they can bring to express their gratitude to flight crews. At the request of stews across the globe I would like to share this information. I have posed the aforementioned question to my Facebook followers on many occasions, and it always seems to produce the same few responses from both the passengers who bring gifts and the flight attendants who love receiving them. They include, but are not limited to: Chocolates of any kind, Starbucks gift cards (many a frequent flier stated they bring $5 cards to hand out to crewmembers), and healthy snacks such as fresh veggies and/or fruits.
Just to reiterate, passengers should never feel obligated to bring gifts and they will not be treated any differently for not doing so. When the occasional gift is received. it is only an added bonus for already doing a job that most flight attendants truly enjoy.
EXTRA CREDIT: Make us laugh.
We could really use a good one.
Shawn Kathleen (better known as “The Sassy Stew”) is a self-proclaimed travel expert, freelance writer and know-it-all that served time in the air by doing the flight attendant thing. You can read more about her exploits at the popular website Rants of a Sassy Stew, in her own column on Zooey Deschanel’s website HelloGiggles, or by following her on Twitter.