Flight Attendants Share Things They Wish Passengers Wouldn't Do

Flight Attendants Share Things They Wish Passengers Wouldn't Do

Flight attendants are in the customer service industry. So they'll smile, be friendly, and accommodate you as much as they possibly can. But they're also constantly on the move, underpaid, and responsible for the safety of hundreds of people at a time. So it's probably a good idea for us passengers to do everything in our power to help them out.

Luckily, these flight attendants recently went online to share things they wish passengers wouldn't do. Here's a little look behind the curtain...

tim-gouw-208299-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

20. You Need A Pay Raise

Where do I start?

1.Insisting that there must be another dinner “somewhere.” Nope, unless you think I’m hiding it for some reason?

2. Leaving the doors unlocked while you do your business. The lights don’t even turn on unless it’s locked!

3. Asking for a gluten-free/vegan/dairy-free/kosher meal when you didn’t order one, then get upset that we don’t have “extras” on board. Or worse, ask for one that’s all of the above (does that even exist?). Where do you expect me to come up with this meal?

4. Asking for strawberry juice, goat milk or other exotic offerings. Let me just get myself down to cargo and milk the goat for you ma’am.

5. Giving me dirty looks when I ask you to put on your seatbelt. It’s not for me, it’s for you. Same with taking your baby out of the bassinet during turbulence. Who do you think is going to be more upset if the baby gets injured, me or you?

6. Complaining about everything and then saying the least I could do is give you an upgrade. Nope. Just because you’re not happy does not mean I have to give you an upgrade. Don’t have enough business class seats for every unhappy passenger.

7. Asking different flight attendants for multiple drinks. We talk and we know what you’re doing.

8. Insisting that it’s my job to “put up baggage.” It clearly says in our employee handbook that we are not allowed to do it. If you can bring it on board, you can put it up.

9. Pretending not to be sick when you are. I know you probably don’t care about anyone else’s time, or how much it costs to divert, but do you really want to be offloaded in some foreign country with a medical emergency?

10. Not controlling your children. First, there are safety issues to letting your children run around without supervision, not to mention the sanity of everyone sitting near you. We all get when babies cry, but we’re less understanding about the toddler on a rampage whacking everyone’s heads because it amuses him. True story.

11. Telling me that it was okay on your last flight. Don’t care, on this flight you have to follow the rules of this airline and this particular country. Not my problem if someone else didn’t do their job.

12. Threatening to fly with another airline. A) I don’t care and B) we both know you bought this ticket because it was cheap.

Emily Doong

hostess-1046859-225x300.pngImage by

19. Just Pick One

When I am talking to you and you are not bothered to take off your earphones.

Me: Good afternoon, would you like steamed ginger fish or teriyaki chicken?

Passenger: (Not even bothered to take off his earphones) Huh?

Me: Steamed ginger fish or teriyaki chicken?

Passenger: (Lower the volume but earphones still plugged in) What is that?

Me: (Motioning for them to take off their earphones) Dead fish or over marinated chicken? Which is which?

Cue other passengers snickering.

Passenger: Oh I'm sorry. (Finally taking off their earphones) What's that you were saying?

Me: Fish or chicken? Rice or rice?

Passenger: Do you have beef instead?

In this line of work, I rarely stumble upon people who can read lips well, so please don't attempt that when you're no expert in doing so.

Sometimes I purposely say the menu out loud to the first row I serve so that people sitting two or three rows behind could hear me and start deliberating on which dish you would like to have. Especially when the flight has tons of families traveling together. Kids often can't wait for their meals like adults do.

Actually, I have seen adults behaving worse than kids. It's fine. Sorry kiddo, you are raised way better than some of these folks.

Also, it's common courtesy. Would you talk to anyone while listening to music with earphones plug still in your ear?

You would not. So what makes me less than a person?

I addressed you, like you, I pointed at you. Can you please remove the earphones? I really don't have the luxury to stand beside you for five full minutes while you attempt to read my lips and eventually ask me to pull things out of my arse.

I have got options. Pick from the options. If it's not stated there, that means it's not available. Unless you really have dietary restrictions and for some reasons you forgot to book it beforehand.

Nuralia Mazlan

breakfast-676489-1-300x212.jpgImage by

18. Some Planes Have Maps So You Can See Yourself

"Where are we flying over right now?"

We never know.

Also, to open a bi-fold lavatory door, simply push in the middle. Where it says PUSH.

One of the negative aspects of the job is when people yank off the ashtray thinking it's a door handle and then ask "WHY DO YOU EVEN HAVE THOSE STILL?" It's an FAA requirement; ashtrays need to be on every plane in case someone decides to screw the rules and light up.

airplane-1209752-1-300x200.jpgImage by

17. Who's The Real Baby Here?

I'm a flight attendant for American Airlines. I once had a really rude woman on a flight sitting next to a young couple with a baby. The baby didn’t have its own seat and was sitting on the mother's lap. This made the row crowded.

The woman asked if she could be moved, but it was a full flight, and the only seats available were in first class. We were not allowed to move passengers to those seats unless there is an emergency. I told this to the woman when she asked to be moved to first class.

The woman is clearly upset but has stopped causing a scene. An hour into the flight, we were in the middle of drink service, and the baby started crying. At this point, that row already had their drinks. Not even ten minutes after the baby starts crying, I hear the mother start screaming. The woman sitting next to the couple had “accidentally” poured her hot coffee on the mother and the baby.

With the situation being so heated (no pun intended), and with the couple's seats being wet, we moved them to first class. The grumpy woman then complained about how she wasn’t moved. When I was walking through the aisle later, she stuck her foot out to trip me.

I wrote her up for this. The couple insisted that the coffee spilling was not an accident, and I agreed with them. I ended up filing an in-passenger disturbance report for the tripping and the coffee spilling. This could lead to the no-fly list in certain situations, or if you have too many in-flight passenger disturbance reports. She then made a huge scene getting off the plane, demanding to speak with management. Most unreasonable woman I have ever met!

So I would say don't be a jerk to people with babies. Try to be supportive.

Kayla Cardillo

adorable-21998-300x200.jpgImage by


16. Close Enough

Unless you're extremely lucky and your aircraft just rolled out of the hangar after major maintenance, there will absolutely be something broken in it. An aircraft can have a whole host of parts be broken and still be allowed to fly, the broken parts just get labeled, recorded, and put on the to-do list for the next time it goes to maintenance.

So don't expect everything to work perfectly. It probably won't.

airplane-744876-300x203.jpgImage by

15. Explosive Potential

As a flight attendant I saw a lot of shady stuff. People lying about ordering special meals, or complaining they weren't served to have an extra sandwich; booking one seat in business class but travelling with a wife or child in economy then asking to bring their economy class co-traveler to be next to them in business class and ordering food for them; excuses and lies to try to get upgrades or extra leg room seats. All of which are funny because crew doesn't normally upgrade.

Oh and let's not forget passengers who asked in which hotel the crew is staying, and you decline to answer but then someone must have told them and later they show up in the lobby saying "oh what a coincidence you were my crew. Do you want to have a drink?"

As a ground handler I saw a lot of shady stuff as well. A lot of stories the gate staff had to endure from people wanting an upgrade, people lying about their health not to be offloaded, lying about needing a wheelchair so they can use it as an airport taxi service, etc.

But the worst case I ever saw was a passenger exiting a bus on a remote stand, during boarding, and trying to sneak a smoke in front of the aircraft. Luckily, I was just at the left hand side of the aircraft at that moment so I stopped him immediately. The fuelling was in progress at that time and it could have been a disaster. Basically, 400 people were in danger because of this little guy who wanted a quick fix. This happened more than once, actually. Sometimes I used to think to myself it seems as if people check in their brains in their bags when they reach the airport, and pick it up (hopefully) on the baggage belt at their destination.

Maia Medena

transportation-system-3190760-1-300x200.jpgImage by

14. Honey Or Vinegar

As a flight attendant, I actually have a lot of flexibility when it comes to special requests outside the rules. If you're nice, i'm glad i've just made your day. If you're an entitled jerk who thinks raising their voice and intimidation will make me cave... I will recite our terms of service to the letter and refuse to give you even a single thing of your special request.

It's not smart to be a jerk to the person who has the ability to give you (or not give you) what you're asking for.

aircraft-2104594-1-300x200.jpgImage by

13. Hairspray!

1) Hairspray can set off the lavatory smoke alarms. Also, yes, your vape.

2) Whenever I take a flight as a passenger out of uniform, I always greet the flight attendants in the front and usually the pilots, and let them know I’m a flight attendant. It’s not industry standard, but the idea is to let them know where my seat is incase there’s an emergency and I’m an extra set of helpful hands.

3) Junior flight attendants are exhausted. Zombies walking around, facing minor hypoxia, sleep deprivation, negative bank accounts, and general anxiety. That was me during our airlines required ‘reserve’ period. It’s comparable to new RN’s and doctors who are on call. You can be on call for 24 hours, which means at any point you have two hours to be at the airport, in uniform, ready to fly any flight they assign you. Once you finish that assignment, which can be anywhere from 2 hours to 4 days, you have 9 hours of ‘rest’ before you go back on call.

3) Every flight attendant has a ‘base’, but not every airport is a base. Many flight attendants are therefore ‘commuters’. For example, you can live in Ohio but you’re a new hire who was assigned SFO as your base. You can move to the most expensive city in the country, or commute before your assignments from the Midwest to SFO every time. Many flight attendants (and pilots!) mitigate this logistic by staying in ‘crashpads’ a few nights a month, apartments under one name on the lease but with bunk beds and shared spaces and divided rent.

5) Most of us love our jobs!

airport-731196-300x200.jpgImage by

12. Room Temp Is Not The Same As Sky Temp

If it’s a red eye and we are close to landing I might be hallucinating from lack of sleep. Not enough to be dangerous, just enough to see weird things.

Oh and when you ask us to change the temperature we pretend to do it. Planes are generally colder because if we hit turbulence warm temps will make the chances of someone puking much higher. No idea why.

If you curse in general it’s normally not a thing but the second you curse at me I can kick you off.

We have flex-restraints and are trained how to use them should you get disorderly.

handcuffs-2102488-5-300x169.jpgImage by

11. Why Do You Check Our Boarding Passes 80 Times?

Please do not get upset if I ask you to show me your boarding pass at the aircraft door. I know you have shown it 4–5 times before you reach this point and I also know that you are aware how to get to your seat, but this last time is the most critical.

Reason: There have been some incidents where a wrong passenger somehow has boarded the wrong flight. How such things happened is not understood but because such things do happen and it is a huge safety and security concern, airlines ask us to make sure that every boarding pass is checked one last time before passengers board.

Failure to show the crew your boarding pass at the door will lead to us denying you boarding. On a certain flight to US we even had authorities coming on board as passengers and testing it out but because we are now very adamant on passengers showing boarding passes at the door, the authorities left without concern.

Plane evacuated as man arrested after getting on with 'wrong boarding pass.'

Shrey P

still-2609682-300x211.jpgImage by


10. On The Clock

Pretty much every airline (at least in the U.S.) starts paying once the door is closed and stops when the door is open. So we are not on the clock beyond that, really. We don't like delays any more than you do...

travel-612508-2-300x225.jpgImage by

9. Don't Lose Your Button Privileges

Please do not keep pressing the call light throughout the flight. Trust me: we discuss every single thing and passenger in the galley

On my airline we attend the call light within 5 seconds (may take about 15 seconds to reach the passenger) because it could be a medical emergency. But on certain flights there are so many call lights that we can’t answer them all and if we had to attend these call lights then the service would never start. That means big time delays to other passengers who don’t press call light every 5 seconds. Let’s keep the call light for emergencies only, please.

Shrey P

aircraft-608064-225x300.jpgImage by

8. It May Look Like Fun, But...

When everyone stands near the gate, waiting for their boarding group to call, you prevent other passengers from getting on board. Gate agents and flight attendants affectionately refer to this cloud as "gate lice".

Flight attendants have a level of authority on the flight that's below the captain, but they can (and do) make the call about whether you will fly or not. If you're too drunk, if you're belligerent, and if you give them the impression you will NOT follow their instructions on a flight, the FA's can kick you off. If you refuse to go, they can have you arrested. Likewise, in flight, they can have you detained and arrested at the destination.

Flight attendants primary purpose is safety, NOT serving you food and drinks. That's just something extra to help justify their presence on board and add some comfort to the flight. So please don't mistake them as mall security, like they have zero authority and are just a sky waiter/waitress.

If you knew how little money they made, you'd rethink how you treated FA's and if you'd like to do that as a career. The hourly wage MAY SEEM nice, but they only get paid when the boarding door is closed. Otherwise, sitting at the airport waiting for a delayed flight, riding a shuttle to the hotel or riding back for the next flight doesn't pay the hourly rate.

When you add up all the time you're essentially away from home or not in a hotel room, the hourly wage drops to below minimum wage. Some airlines give better pay based on seniority, but most airlines do not. The only real "perks" are flight benefits: FA + spouse/sig other gets flight benefits meaning they can fly anywhere for just the government fee as glorified standby.

airplane-2562288-300x200.jpgImage by

7. First Class Is The Worst Class

We do not get paid extra nor do we “work up” to working in a premium cabin. On certain planes it is actually more desirable to work in economy (usually the plane configuration, staffing etc). There are certain routes where I absolutely loathe working in first class and business class, and if given a choice I would much rather work in economy. Working in first class does not mean you are the “most experienced”. My first day on the job I was the “lead first class flight attendant” and on that specific plane/route, usually it was the most junior person that ended up with that position.

It's impossible to please everyone and a lot of times a good deed ends up biting us in the butt. When I first started flying, I gave a sandwich to a passenger who had a medical condition and he forgot to bring food. Well, this was followed by another passenger demanding I refund her because it was “not fair that he got it for free but she had to pay”. I told her I couldn't refund and this resulted in her feeling discriminated.

This also goes with moving a passenger into an aisle seat. Maybe the guy at the window seat is nice and doesn't care, or maybe he is a jerk who will complain that I allowed someone who didn't pay for the seat to sit there. I wouldn't know, since I just got on the plane too. Yes technically he didn't pay for all the seats in that row, but you will not believe how some people twist things once they feel wronged.

I had a woman tell me I was the worst flight attendant ever when she was exiting and I was working in a totally different cabin than she was sitting and did not even interact with her. A lot of people feel like because something bad happened we should give them something complimentary; well you see that opens up a can of worms. Basically if I do it for you, I have to do it for everyone else.

We have to be diplomatic in situations to avoid discrimination lawsuits. For example, that man that's overweight and spilling into your seat on a full flight? I can't tell him to suck in his gut or ask a thin person to switch with you. However, you can, because the worst that can happen is you'll get a no and maybe a glare. If I do, I am risking a possible lawsuit against my airline or at worst, my job. With the age of social media, a lot of things get twisted. I never want to be the flight attendant that "harassed a mother and her crying baby" or "didn't allow a man with a medical condition to sleep" because he snores.


airplane-seats-2570438-300x199.jpgImage by

6. That Last One Is Good To Know

Leave the bathroom the way you found it. I kid you not when I say that a passenger left his giant turd on the floor of the lavatory. Not sure how. Not sure why. But it was definitely my first code brown.

We can tell when your emotional support animal is real and when you just manipulated the system to avoid paying the cabin pet fee.

Don't make small talk with us. We hear the same questions every day, "Whats your route?" "Is this your first flight." Shhhhhhhh. Im here to give you food, drinks, and clear instructions on how to get out if the plane is on fire. I am not here to provide you with small talk- get a book.

Perhaps this is the most important one: Most airports right now are landing too many planes an hour. So if we have to wait for a gate or if there is a traffic jam on the tarmac DO NOT -- I repeat DO NOT -- ask us to call the flight deck and tell them to HOLD YOUR CONNECTING FLIGHT. That's not how it works in America. You are not special and your flight will never be held for you unless you have George Clooney status. During the holiday season make sure your connection time is at least 90 minutes minimum. Weather, maintenance, air traffic control delays are all factors that will stop you from having a seamless experience. Plan ahead.

aircraft-513641-300x200.jpgImage by

5. This Is How You Say 'Thank You'

I once had a passenger ask me if he could get an amenity kit from business class. Usually passengers are not aware of amenity kits from business class. Anyhow this passenger did know about this. I told him let us do a trade: I would give him an amenity kit from business class if there are any left and in return for that it would be lovely if he wrote  feedback to the airline about me and my excellent service/performance on board. He agreed to the deal.

The reason why I told the passenger to write a feedback about my performance on board is that these feedbacks the airlines get about the crew are worth GOLD for us.

A few weeks later, my performance manager emailed me and informed me that a passenger on board xxxxx flight, had written an excellent ‘thank you’ feedback in regards to my performance on board. My performance manager thanked me for my service and mentioned ‘’keep up the good work’’. This letter will be saved in my performance file. The more positive letters/feedback's we have from passengers, the greater chance we have to get promoted. Some airlines give their crew various bonuses if they get positive feedback from passengers. Although with the airline I work at, we don't get bonuses. These positive letters sent by passengers can truly boost a crew’s career. In the airline I work at, the more positive letters the higher chance of getting promoted quicker.

I rarely ask passengers to write positive feedback about my service/performance on board. I like the feedback to be authentic and come naturally from the passengers without us asking. But most often passengers have no idea that they can write feedback about the crew and their service/performance on board. If they know, a high % don't write any feedback at all because it is such a hassle for people and crew are the last thing on folk’s minds when they go off the plane.

Anyhow in that case I had with that passenger, I thought it would be a fun trade. He got a fun/awesome amenity kit from the business class and I got an excellent feedback. It was a win-win situation for both of us.

So if your flight attendant goes above and beyond for you, write them a nice review.

Susan Brown

feedback-1977987-300x281.jpgImage by


4. You Never Know Who You're Talking To

We try not to let you know when two FBI men and a handcuffed criminal charged with murder are sitting two seats behind you. Or that the man in the window seat who has a blanket up to his shoulders actually died on the flight and has been dead for 10 hours.

If the food flies out of the carts down in the lower lobe galley of jumbo jets and the steaks, peas, and biscuits end up rolling around on the floor and under other carts and machinery we won’t tell you we crawled on our hands and knees trying to scoop up all the food we could then either rinsed it off or brushed it off and put it back on the meal trays, because after all, that’s all the food there is on the plane and everyone expects a meal, so we make it work.

Since we aren’t provided meals (the pilots are but not flight attendants) we eye the passengers carefully during the meal service for clean passengers who haven’t finished their meals and race to take away their trays and eat what food they have left over. We pick off everything edible and pile it in a corner of the galley, then when we have a moment we stand in the galley and eat a little bit at a time while we continue working.

You would expect flight attendants to have been nurses before starting a flying career (the first stewardesses who worked for United Airlines and had to be nurses) but you wouldn’t expect them to be attorneys, deputy sheriffs, actresses, multiple patent holders, former doctors and dentists, real estate moguls, award-winning authors, and owners of multi-million dollar conglomerates. Or that they are married to billionaires, senators, governors, movie stars, inventors, sports stars and astronauts.

Just after writing this sentence, I remember working with a gorgeous stewardess married to a billionaire toy manufacturer, who once asked Lucille Ball what she would like to eat for dinner and was told, “I don’t speak to servants.”

Cheryl A Schwartz

lucille-ball-399439-241x300.jpgImage by

3. That's One Way To Ask A Girl Out

I was a flight attendant with TWA back in the early 70s and I had an experience I would love to tell you about.

This was back in the day when passengers were given a choice for their meal, usually steak or chicken.

The crew, almost always women, were often hit on by male passengers. They didn’t seem to understand that most of us were serious about our jobs. We had a lot to do and a limited amount of time in which to do it.

Besides, rarely did any of us ever date a passenger.

This one time, I had spent most of the flight dealing with this wannabe playboy. He had become especially fond of patting my rear end as I passed his aisle seat in my section of coach. He had also sorely embarrassed me by pulling me right into his lap.

Shady, yes, but this took the grand prize for shady -- at least on that flight …

Dinner was over and I was retrieving the used dinner trays. When I picked up the three trays from playboy and his seat mates, his tray had a room key to a major San Francisco hotel and a $100 bill was peeking out from under a napkin beside his plate.

I waited until I was halfway back up the aisle toward the galley. Then I turned around, waved the key and the $100 bill high in the air, and shouted:

“It seems someone has lost this hotel key and money! If they’re yours, you can get them from the Captain at the door, once we’ve landed.”

C.J. Heck

suit-2619784-300x225.jpgImage by

2. You've Been Served

The lack of stability in my schedule is a huge thing that people don’t really know about, I find out where I’m going for the month on the 21st of the month before. Unless I have my booked leave there I have no idea what my days off will be.

In January I turned up to work for a Nairobi trip and got reassigned to a Chicago 20 minutes before I was due for my briefing. Arrived in ORD dressed for the African summer.

As for things you don’t know, almost always we pick our BFF or Boyfriend for the flight who is simply the most attractive guy on the plane, just for a bit of fun. We also discuss amongst us how nice our ‘side’ is. On wide-body aircraft there’s 2 aisles and we work each side. Once we’ve done the initial drinks round we often have a casual chat over what they’re like; “My side is pretty nice, they’re drinking a lot of stuff though. 34D is a jerk but there’s a family of four at the front who are lovely.”

If you drink too much and we cut you off when you ask for your fourth double in an hour, don’t try and pull the wool over our eyes and ask someone else. We know about you, the onboard manager will know about you, and the Captain will know about you. As soon as I cut someone off I let the crew working with me know that I’ve stopped giving 28B drinks. When the manager calls us (every half an hour at my airline) we let them know that 28B has been cut off, and in turn they’ll let the Captain know. It’s nothing major but I don’t think a lot of people realize how much we keep the flight deck in the loop on everything that’s going on.

ahmed-syed-501759-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Ahmed Syed on Unsplash

1. The Lobster Mac

Flight attendants often don't know each other before briefing. You'll hear a ton of us calling each other... "Hey hun," "Hey darling," "Hey dude" -- all of that is just because we don't remember their name.

Your flight today could be my fifth, and I could have been on the clock for 12 hours wanting nothing else than to get home or to my layover. Please don't take out your traveling frustrations on me or my coworkers. It's not my fault that TSA sucks, there is weather in the northeast, or that there's a broken part of the plane. We're just along for the ride, too.

Being yelled at because a grown adult didn't get the lobster mac (which is amazing, to be fair) can get old pretty fast.

But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

omar-prestwich-247121-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash