How to be a better passenger – from a flight attendant

We get it, flying can be stressful.

All the rules, checking in on time, finding your departure gate, facing delays and cancellations, lost luggage … it can all add up.

Sadly, since COVID too many people are taking it out on airline staff and since almost everyone has a phone, it doesn’t take too much internet sleuthing to find any number of badly behaved passengers.

Which makes no sense, especially for flight attendants. These people, quite literally, at the very least can remove you from a flight and at the very best can save your skin in a life-threatening situation. And why make their job more stressful? I would hate to face the everyday pressures attendants must front up to every time they clock on, much less adding on cranky customers.

According to travel portal, there are a few things we can do to make flying and flight attendants’ lives easier.

Be nice

There, now it wasn’t that hard. Just be nice.

Flight attendants aren’t there for fun, they are working. Treat them with the respect you would for anyone who is simply carrying out their daily duties. Would you chuck a tantrum in a coffee shop? If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to have a good hard look at yourself.

Say please and thank you, and acknowledge them if they say hello when you are boarding. Easy.

No touching

Gone are the days when flight attendants were considered little more than attractive waitresses there for your ogling pleasure.

Don’t touch them to get attention. Once again, it’s like any workplace, would you poke your service provider for a response? Thought not.

If you want something ask politely, like a normal person. If it’s taking a while, it’s because flight attendants have to deal with a whole planeload of people, not just you.

Time it right

Recognise that flight attendants are busy and have busy periods and two of the busiest are just after take-off and just before landing, which are also the most dangerous times in a flight

Asking for drinks or food or just generally being a challenging customer during these times is probably going to get you ignored. Don’t be surprised if your requests for service go unanswered. Unless it’s an emergency, try to wait.

Save it for later

This is an annoying one for flight attendants and passengers alike. Don’t perform any gross personal hygiene tasks during the flight. Cutting your toenails in the air is also a big no-no!

Also tidy up your damned rubbish. It’s the work of seconds to put your rubbish in the bins as they pass.

Button up

Don’t be that passenger constantly pressing the call button. And if you do need a flight attendant, recognise that if the seat belt sign is on, or they are handing out meals, it may take a bit longer to answer the call.

Apologise profusely if you have pressed the call button by accident. I think we have all done that.

They don’t know it all

Flight attendants don’t know about your next connection. They don’t know how long it will take to get through customs or what delays are happening at the destination airport.

Questioning or getting upset if your questions can’t be answered will not endear you to your flight attendant. On any given flight, there could be people expecting to get on a dozen different connecting flights. Your flight attendant doesn’t know about your ongoing plans and nor should they.

And they definitely can’t hold up a plane for you. I have seen flight attendants make sure passengers facing a tight connecting flight are given priority to disembark, but that’s as far as it goes. Holding up another flight is well above their authority.

Lightly does it

If you can’t stow your luggage safely because it’s too heavy, what makes you think your flight attendant can?

Okay, it’s just one bag you say, but it’s not. It could be hundreds of bags per flight if they agreed and that’s a recipe for injury.

And as many airlines don’t pay their flight attendants for time the plane is on the ground, any injury they receive putting luggage away would not be covered by workplace insurance.

If your luggage is too heavy for you to handle safely, check it in before you board.

Have you seen any bad behaviour on a plane? What did the flight attendants do? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: What type of damage will void your passport?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


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