How to ‘bribe’ a flight attendant

Being a flight attendant is not an easy job. Imagine having to deal with planeload after planeload of pesky passengers who believe it’s their right to be treated like royalty? And for very little gratitude in return. In fact, they’re often treated as inflight servants.

Many of you will say, hey, that’s what we pay them for, right?

Still, it’s a high-stress gig – and not as well-paid as you might imagine.

So, any time you’re nice to your flight attendants it’s remembered and very much appreciated. And there’s a way you may be able to make this work to your advantage.

Bringing a small gift for your ‘flighty’ on your next trip may yield benefits and, in turn, a more positive experience.

Yes, you are allowed to bring small gifts onboard for your flight attendants. A nice box of chocolates or a bag of sweets; some nice refreshing rosewater spray or hydrating face mist; an airport store gift card or even a bag of M&Ms will always go down well. If you’re heading off on an international flight, try something distinctly Australia, such as Vegemite or TimTams.

But if you really want to make your flighty happy, buy them a few magazines. Or, when you’re done with yours, offer them on to your attendant as he or she passes after meal service. Even your trashy novel may bring a smile to their face.

“For sure! Unless some airline has a policy that I’ve never heard of, we will gratefully accept them. Some might read them, some might offer them to other passengers, some might say no thanks. But you will always be highly regarded,” wrote one flight attendant on a Reddit forum.

But which mags will garner the most favour?

“Honestly, People Magazine, Rolling Stone or Entertainment Weekly. All three unisex, appropriate and mainstream,” wrote the same attendant.

“We’re not looking for long, thought-provoking articles that spark our intelligence. We probably have a good book tucked away in our luggage to read at the hotel later anyway. What we want is to flip pages and look at pictures while we eat our lunch behind the curtain, or wait for the crew bus in the rain and talk about how stupid Miley Cyrus is!”

happy flight attendant

It’s also a good idea to write a little thank you message on your gift, such as “thanks for looking after seat 17B”. That way, they’ll know the origin of the gift and where you’ll be when the opportunity to repay in kind comes along. If you hand your gift to your attendant, either as you board or after first meal service (because that’s when things quieten down), make sure you let them know it’s for the cabin and crew, so it can be shared around.

Now, there’s an old saying that goes something like “don’t give with the expectation of receiving” and that’s true in this case too. A box of chocolates won’t guarantee an upgrade to business class, but it may help if the opportunity arises. The more likely scenario is that you receive an extra special treat, such as champagne or other first-class food, maybe even noise-cancelling headphones, amenities kits, free wifi or appreciation through warmer service and thanks from passing attendants.

And even if giving gifts is not your style, a smile and a thank you goes a long way, too.

Have you ever thought of giving a gift to your flight attendant?

Related articles:
Things flight attendants hate
Befriend your flight attendant
Six surprising onboard requests

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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