20 Things Flight Attendants Are Too Polite to Say

20 Things Flight Attendants Are Too Polite to Say
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20 Things Flight Attendants Are Too Polite to Tell You

Flight attendants may be the friendly stewards of the open skies -- always quick with a smile and a bright greeting -- but after spending their days (and nights) dealing with weary, rude passengers, they've got a few things they've been meaning for all of us to hear. These air professionals deal with a lot, including keeping us safe, hydrated, and fed, even when we're not behaving our best (and even on days when they could really use a break from the kind of demanding passengers we all hate to sit next to). We've found out the top 20 things flight attendants admit to thinking -- the real things they wish they could say to our faces -- when we're 35,000 feet up. Being kind, polite, and easy with flight attendants is a great way to ensure we stay on their good side, which can lead to everything from extra snacks to free drinks. 

But more importantly, it's just a nice-person thing to do -- we're all trapped in that metal tube in the sky together, so we should be good to each other, right? For moms who travel with their kids, we've got some specialized tips about that super-fun little adventure, too. First off, remember that some people are just going to be jerks about being near or next to a baby or a kid, no matter how well-behaved the child is, and that is their own darn fault, not ours. We love this open letter: To the Man Who Made it Clear He Didn't Want My Child on 'His' Flight. There's one person on every flight who has to make it clear how inconvenient having a kiddo around is, and that's just the way of things. TBH, they fall into that category of people who are worse to sit next to on a plane than a crying baby. That said, kids can be disruptive, making it harder for us to kick back for a while. Here's a great guide to keeping your kid from getting kicked off a plane. And to keep 'em occupied, consider getting a few toys for kids on planes -- always a good idea to keep them engaged. 

  • Be Polite

    Be Polite

    When flight attendants welcome us aboard with a smile, it's rude to ignore them. A simple "thanks," is easy to say, but all too often passengers can't seem to muster this most basic of replies. Flight attendants are people with feelings, and ignoring them or, even worse, being rude, is a surefire way to get on their bad side. Who knows? Failing to be polite might result in flight attendants "forgetting" to offer us beverage service. Of course, they would never intentionally forget, would they?

  • They're Watching Everyone

    They're Watching Everyone

    Hey, passenger with a smartphone, tablet or laptop: Flight attendants can see what we're watching. So any of those travelers who think it's acceptable to watch, say, pornography, just know they can see it and, yes, they're totally judging, as are fellow passengers. (We were shocked to learn that some airplane passengers actually do this. While there's no specific law banning travelers from watching pornography, airlines are at their own discretion when dealing with passengers who do so.)

  • Don't Hog the Overhead Bins

    Don't Hog The Overhead Bins

    The overhead bins have limited space, and no one person has the right to hog it. Turn larger carry-ons when placing them in the overhead compartment so they take up the least amount of space while still allowing the bin to close completely. Smaller bags and purses need to be kept out of the bins and placed under the seat in front of us to maximize space for other passengers.

  • Knees & Feet Off the Seats

    Knees And Feet Off The Seats

    Scratch that, any part of the body that extends from our seat to another passenger's is a problem. From dealing with people who think it's OK to wedge their feet onto someone else's armrest to having to kindly ask passengers to stop bouncing their knees or legs against another passenger's seat, flight attendants are seriously over travelers thinking their comfort matters more than anyone else's.

  • They Hate the Call Button

    They Hate The Call Button

    While flight attendants never mind helping passengers who need assistance, they are totally overwhelmed by travelers who press the call button nonstop throughout a flight. Along with managing the personal requests of hundreds of people, flight attendants have a schedule to maintain and pressing the call button, especially to ask redundant questions -- like "When's the beverage cart coming through?" or "How far away are we?" -- only interrupts their flow.

  • They Smell Everything

    They Smell Everything

    Planes, even jets, are actually pretty small when it comes to personal space. That being said, flight attendants, as well as all the other passengers, can smell when someone passes gas or takes off their shoes in-flight. Don't be that traveler who pollutes the air everyone is forced to breathe. This also applies to those who like to apply perfume or cologne. Just because we think it smells nice, doesn't mean everyone else will, too.

  • Don't Touch Them

    Don't Touch Them

    Honestly, we're not even sure why anyone thinks it's OK to touch someone while they're working. If a flight attendant walks past, a simple "excuse me" suffices to get their attention. If that doesn't work, just wait and try again or, if it's truly important, press the call button. Don't, under any circumstances (unless we're saving their life) reach out and grab them. That's not just annoying, it's also completely inappropriate.

  • Coach Is Not First Class

    Coach Is Not First Class

    Mad about the lack of leg room, dining options, or general discomfort of squeezing into a too-small seat that barely reclines? Frustrated that we see smiling passengers up front holding fruity drinks with little umbrellas? Not the flight attendant's problem. If we want a better experience while flying, pony up and pay for first or business class.

  • Stay In the Assigned Zone

    Stay In The Assigned Zone

    Along with not expecting the same accommodations in coach as we have in first or even business class, please, don't think it's OK to walk into their zone or, even worse, use their bathroom. If there's a curtain separating one plane section from another, that's a clear indication we're not supposed to go in there, unless otherwise instructed. Don't make the flight attendants be the bad guys for having to kick someone out. 

  • The Rules Apply to Everyone

    The Rules Apply to Everyone

    Whether we're asked to remain seated with our seat belt fastened, to raise our seat in the upright position, or put away our electronics, we're expected to do it, no questions asked. Flight attendants are not policing our flight to inconvenience us, rather to keep everyone (including themselves) safe. Just because we don't like or agree with an airline's rules doesn't mean we get to excuse ourselves from following them.

  • No Freebies

    No Freebies

    Every flight has at least one (and usually more) of those entitled passengers who try to cop a freebie while in the air. While airlines do incentivize certain problems (like getting bumped from a flight or premium zone), don't expect flight attendants to comp everyone free drinks and food for every minor annoyance that can be encountered. While freebies are at their discretion, flight attendants are far more likely to hook up a friendly passenger than one who frivolously complains.

  • Sit Down

    Sit Down

    There's nothing more annoying to a flight attendant than passengers who get up out of their seat right after takeoff, while the plane is still reaching cruising altitude. When the captain and flight attendants have made it clear that passengers are to remain seated until the seat belt sign is turned off, they mean it. Walking after takeoff is dangerous for everyone, and if we fall, it could force the plane to turn around, ruining everyone's trip.

  • Our Kids Are Our Own Responsibility

    Our Kids Are Our Own Responsibility

    Flight attendant does not mean child care attendant. These air professionals have a lot of responsibilities in the air, and none of them include providing babysitting services for parents. If we choose to fly with kids, don't expect flight attendants to help take care of them or keep them occupied. While some may choose to offer a hand out of the kindness of their heart, it's not required nor should it be expected.

  • Sorry, Help Isn't Always Available

    Sorry, Help Isn't Always Available

    Sometimes, we end up having to pack a heavy carry-on, which can make it hard to lift it into the overhead bin. But flight attendants may not be able to, either. We can always ask another passenger to help us -- and anyone who's pregnant, injured, older, or who has a disability should just go ahead and do so -- but we should also recognize that flight attendants can't always help. 

  • Short Flight? No Hot Drinks

    Short Flight? No Hot Drinks

    While we certainly have the option to ask for a cup of coffee or tea, anyone on a short flight (45 minutes or less), should know that their flight attendants will quietly curse our existence if we do. Since water can't be heated for hot drinks until the plane reaches altitude (approximately 20 minutes into the flight) and preparation for landing begins about 30 minutes before touching ground again, a hot drink becomes a major inconvenience and safety hazard.

  • Seriously, Keep the Aisle Clear

    Seriously, Keep the Aisle Clear

    Let's be honest, flight attendants probably don't feel bad when their extremely heavy beverage and snack carts accidentally run over a passenger's foot or carry-on. Why? Because they've literally told us a gazillion times to keep the aisles clear for this reason. Carts are bulky and block a flight attendant's line of sight. That means it's up to passengers to understand where their legs and arms should be during the flight.  

  • Use Indoor Voices

    Use Indoor Voices

    Granted, some people have disabilities that make speaking in a low voice difficult (if not impossible), but some passengers are just obnoxiously loud. Since planes are essentially metal tubes flying through the sky, all that sound reverberates, meaning just about everyone can hear passenger Bob's fishing trip story or all about passenger Susie's marital problems (TMI, by the way). Make the flight attendants and fellow passengers happy, and bring it down a notch, m'kay?

  • This Isn't a Restaurant

    This Isn't A Restaurant

    Food allergies aside, there's little flight attendants can do to accommodate special in-flight food requests. Unless we've notified the airline prior to the flight about meal concerns, it's possible to be out of luck when it comes to getting a customized entree. Also, please note that every passenger has an in-flight menu in the seat pocket in front of them. Read it. When a flight attendant comes to the row and asks what we'd like to order, don't ask what they have available. That's just lazy.

  • Friendly Doesn't Mean Friends

    Friendly Doesn't Mean Friends

    Being a flight attendant requires people to be professional and courteous on the job. It doesn't mean they're a passenger's new BFF. Chatty passengers be warned: We're not charming or endearing when we step into a flight attendant's work space and take up their time so we can shoot the breeze. They've got a job to do and when they're in their small area away from travelers, they're definitely not hoping we'll swing by for a visit.

  • They're Not Servants

    They're Not Servants

    Sadly, this is only on our list because, occasionally, disagreeable passengers confuse flight attendants for their personal wait staff. Yes, a flight attendant will assist with beverages, meals, and personal safety while on the plane, but that doesn't mean they're our on-call maid or butler. People who treat flight attendants as such are being demeaning, and everyone on the plane (including the flight attendants) hates them.