Hello old friends and Happy Memorial Day Weekend! It’s our unofficial send off into summer and in the airline industry the official start of the busiest, craziest times of the year. It’s time for SUMMER TRAVEL!!
For a lot of people, vacationing once a year is the only time they’ll fly on an airplane. Or if you’re from my part of the country where “driving culture” is strong- you may fly even less than this- which is how my life was prior to my year of flight attending. I could count on one hand the number of times I’d been on a plane. But after being on the other side of things- let me tell you, there is a lot to be said about “passenger etiquette” and it can make all the difference in your and your flight attendants day. Trust ME–the ex-flight attendant who could no longer stand flying with annoying people. Sorry not sorry.
1. Things Go Wrong.
I’m not talking “Southwest-window-blow-out”-things go wrong.. that was a freak accident. I’m talking delays, bad weather, and mechanical problems. It is part of what you sign up for when you purchase a plane ticket. Is it disappointing? Absolutely. Is it in your best interest? YES YOU IDIOT! Pardon my rage. I know you have a connection to make or you’re missing a HUGE life event. So are your flight attendants and pilots. The airline makes the call to delay or change planes or cancel flights altogether because it’s not SAFE otherwise. This is how you avoid freak accidents. With more people flying during the summer and more routes being added, it is even more likely to happen. So I know it’s frustrating and you spent a lot of money to be there but take 2 breaths and go shop around in Hudson News.
With this being said, also know that a lot of the time- things go perfectly right!
2. Boarding your Flight with a KISS- (Keep it Simple Stupid)
This in and of itself could be a whole post. Here’s a fun fact about boarding a plane.. the flight attendants only start getting paid once the plane pushes off from the gate. Meaning the whole time Granny needs help lifting her bag, or a family of 8 are seated separately and Benny can’t sit alone and baby needs cookies… those helpful, smiling flight attendants aren’t on the clock. But they are there to help so that’s what they do, but they greatly APPRECIATE when you have your life together and simply take your seat. Here’s some key points:
- Acknowledgement is appreciated. Maybe it’s the southern in me, but I tried to smile and greet everyone that came on board, having that simple kindness returned goes a long way. Just be nice.
- If you can’t CARRY a carry-on, check it. You should be able to lift your own carry-on suitcase, if you can’t you should be checking said suitcase. I’m aware that some airlines charge extra per checked bag, but it is 100% NOT a flight attendant’s job to lift your bag. In fact, they are told NOT to lift them. That’s how injuries happen. I had someone drop their suitcase on me because I was “helping” them and then they just stopped helping and decided I had it. I’m pretty sure they were packing bricks with them to Denver.
- Read your boarding pass. Sounds simple…because it is, however, you’d be amazed how many people sit in the wrong seat/row and then this causes a domino effect of people in the wrong seats.
- Go to the bathroom before you board the plane. My first working flight ever- someone took a dump in the bathroom during boarding and then it wouldn’t flush so our flight delayed and it literally was due to a LOAD OF CRAP. Also a smelly situation for all my unhappy friends in the last few rows. Avoidable. It is also next to impossible to get back to your seat from the bathroom during boarding, so it leaves you with nowhere to go and in the way of all the traffic.
- Service starts in the SKY. Unless you’re diabetic or need to take medication due to life-threatening illness, don’t ask for service items during boarding. It’s not outrageous, just a very difficult time to fish for those things. FA’s will happily accommodate you once you’re at 10,000 ft. Also you just came from an airport with free water fountains and snacks/drinks along every 7 feet to your gate.
- ***FLYER TIP FOR BOARDING: Blankets are usually easiest to get in boarding and are a lot of the time stocked in the overhead bins above the emergency exit rows. If you’d like one, SNAG IT THEN. You don’t have to ask. Just take it. If you can’t find one then ask a flight attendant, sometimes they will store them in the back for easier access.
3. Listen to Announcements and the Safety Demo. It’s important, I promise.
4. BYOH. Bring your own headphones. A lot of airlines offer free entertainment but NOT free headphones. Complaining won’t change that.
5. Take said headphones OUT when being spoken to
There is nothing, NOTHING more annoying to a flight attendant than trying to flag your attention to take your drink order. When you see the cart approaching, the row in front of yours perhaps, pause your entertainment, take out your headphones, and wait like a functioning human. Otherwise this is what happens: they flail and dance in front of you, you never look up until the FA has moved on 3 rows, then you consult everyone around you in outrage because “SHE SKIPPED ME”. Fake news.
6. Know your Drink Order
Another FA pet peeve.
FA: “What would you like to drink?”
Customer: “What do you have”
A) there is a menu selection in your seatback pocket for you to review the selection.
B) order what you think you want. If they don’t have it they will tell you. Sodas, water, juices, coffee (see C below)… the variety is there. If you can at least order something, if they don’t have what you want they will be able to recommend something similar.
C) For the love of all things holy, LEARN HOW TO ORDER YOUR COFFEE. You know how you like it. Say exactly that.
*hands black coffee*
“excuse me, WHERE’S my cream and sugar”
Simply Order: black coffee, coffee with 2 cream 2 sugar, coffee with sweetener, coffee extra cream. ANY OF THESE OPTIONS ARE ACCEPTABLE. Order it, don’t wait until your attendant is pushing the cart away to request more cream or sugar. Or anything for that matter.
7. Flying with Kids. I get asked about this all the time. Kids are usually a breeze. There was only a handful of times with upset babies in my short career, wittle babies that don’t understand what’s happening or why their ears are popping. That you just have to ride out, unfortunately. But kids- kids are usually so enthralled with the plane itself and all the different movies and snacks, they do great. Bring back-up entertainment just like you would for any other event. Also, ask when you board the plane if they can get a picture with the pilot or see in the cockpit!! Most pilots LOVE this and will make announcements about a 1st time rider or a birthday to make your kiddo feel special.
8. Clean Up After Yourself
Flight attendants come around frequently with trash and the more you can help out by simply just giving them your trash and not stuffing it into the seat-back pocket- THE BETTER. They do clean the planes in between flights, but they have 5-10 minutes at the most. Another thing with trash though– don’t get crazy. I used to be AMAZED at the amount of trash some could accumulate in flight. McDonald’s sacks, coke bottles, stacks of newspaper, fingernail clippings.. Here’s a picture of a cleaner holding (look closely) a THONG left behind on a flight. There’s a lot of wrong in this world.
9. FA’s are a wealth of helpfulness, but they aren’t God. For instance: Flight Attendants can tell you your connecting flight information. They CANNOT hold the plane for you. If you have a tight connection, you have one option- Run.
10. Move Around. If you’re on a lengthy flight, it’s is perfectly fine to get up and move around if you need to. Try your best to stay out of the aisle and near your seat should the air get bumpy. But go walk to the bathroom if you need to. But under no circumstances should I find you doing this:Also, this guy was flying Chattanooga to Atlanta. It’s barely a 20 minute flight. Your hammies can take it.
All of this said, just sit back, relax, and be nice. That’s all you need, any day of the week! I hope everyone has a great summer!
The Ex Flight Attendant of Your Dreams