Flight attendants' job is both critically important and also tough: Their goal is help you enjoy your flight, while keeping you safe for what could be many long hours on end. And of course they must do all of this in a tiny, confined area hurtling through space. That's why they secretly might hate you if you make their jobs harder than they have to be.
"I recall being absolutely appalled by passengers that were so inconsiderate to others. This includes — but certainly wasn’t limited to — packing a bag so heavy they couldn’t lift it into the overhead compartment, bringing canned tuna for their meal, or worse yet, attempting to give themselves a full on manicure or pedicure. These habits were fairly common on flights from NYC to Southern Florida," says former flight attendant Joey Hodges. (Oh man, those are so not OK.)
Here's what else flight attendants could do without passengers doing:
1. Using the loo during boarding.
Yes, the bathrooms are there for you to use, but exercise some common sense as to when to use them. "I'd love for passengers to stop using the bathroom during boarding," says Cherise Stacy, a flight attendant for Jet Blue. "There's a huge bathroom in the terminal that they could've used while waiting two hours for their flight. It holds up the boarding process, plus the two-by-two lav on the planes are gross."
2. Appropriating the airsick bag.
They aren't your mom. Don't make them clean up after you. "I'd love for passengers to stop using the air sickness bag as a personal trash bag — It's for puke!" Stacy says.
3. Asking dumb questions.
On almost every plane, there's a menu card in the seat back. "It's like going to a restaurant and when the waiter or waitress comes and someone asking what they have. If you've never flown before, I get it. However, we do make announcements — and that's another thing I'd love for people to do... listen!" Stacey says. "When we're doing service, it's simple. A Coke or something to that effect. Stop asking for chocolate milk. Coke and cookies, people!"
4. Using the tray table for gross stuff.
There are a lot of appropriate activities we can do at our seats. That may include reading, playing online, maybe watching TV. Changing our baby's diaper? Not so much. "Changing their child's diapers on the tray table — I just threw up in my mouth remembering that," says former flight attendant Lisa Dinsmoor.
5. Failing to mind our personal hygiene.
Taking off your shoes is plenty reasonable on a long-haul flight — but it's also a huge bummer for flight attendants and other passengers alike if you have stinky feet. Ditto in general if you board a plane with bad B.O. "One time working first class I had to take a blanket over to a gentleman and ask him to wrap it around his feet because they smelled so bad," says Dinsmoor.
6. Expecting flight attendants to read your mind.
No, they simply can't anticipate your every whim, and it would be nice to tell them what you need before they make a thousand trips up and down the aisle. Just tell them what you want off the bat, and try to be polite while you are at it. "[I hated] asking a passenger if they'd like coffee and giving it to them, and then have them yell at you that they wanted cream and sugar in it. I failed the mind-reading class... so, if you want cream and sugar, then please tell us!" says Dinsmoor.
7. Wasting space.
When you try to cram your purse or briefcase into the overhead bin on a full flight instead of under the seat in front of you, flight attendants do not appreciate it. "And then when someone has a legit piece of luggage to go up, there is no room. Not to worry though because I’d shame the person that did that by holding up the purse or briefcase and asking who it belongs to," says Dinsmoor.
8. Mishandling children.
Having your child or baby sleep on the floor in front of the bulkhead might seem innocent, but it can lead to a charged situation that pisses off flight attendants. "Passengers would do this and when we’d tell them that the seatbelt sign is on and that for the safety of their child they need to hold them, they would get mad and tell us they don’t want to wake the child," Dinsmoor says. "Go figure!"
9. Being rude.
"I wish passengers would stop being rude to each other. Yes, the seats are cramped, but that doesn't give anyone the right to take their frustration out on someone else," says Heather Poole, Flight attendant and author of the New York Times best seller Cruising Altitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers. "I wish passengers would stop freaking out and learn how to express their wants and needs. I'm probably gonna be a little more willing to go above and beyond the call of duty if they don't scream at me first."
To that end, if someone is speaking to you, take off those darn headphones. "It's nice not to have to repeat myself a million times to people sitting in the same row," she says. "I wish more passengers would acknowledge me with eye contact. Please and thank you would be nice too. I wish passengers could remember I'm a person too, even though I'm a flight attendant. When there's a delay or cancellation, I miss my family too — just as much."
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