10 Ways to Ensure the Airline Attendant is Thrilled You’re On the Flight
By Randee Dawn
We’ve come a long way with airline attendants. Once upon a time they were “stewardesses” only, held to restrictive codes of appearance and conduct, and voicing tag lines like “Fly Me” in advertisements. These days, things are a bit looser – but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t a rigorous job with employers who can afford to be picky (there can be four or five interviews before a hire, and starting salaries may be as low as $16,000). That means today’s attendants must have people skills and lots of patience, and if you as a passenger can make their flight better, yours can become awesome. Here are 10 things you can do on your next flight to ensure you go to the head of the class (if not actually First Class) with attendants.
Pay attention to the announcements
Everyone knows that you’re in your seat, that first set of announcements about buckling up and what to do in an emergency tends to blend into the background. But it is important to keep on top of whatever the captain or attendants may have to say: It will keep you from having to ask the same questions five minutes later, and you may feel better about your own journey.
Look to your attendant about how to behave in turbulence
Yes, there’s always an announcement when the plane goes into rough skies and everyone needs to be belted. But it’s often not a sign of danger; it’s more like traveling on a rough road, so don’t freak out. Still, even if you think you can handle the jostling, if you see your attendant seated and buckled in, definitely stay put.
Believe it or not, you can tip. The Association of Flight Attendants doesn’t like it, but if you press the issue after the first turn-down, you’ll likely be able to show your financial appreciation. (This could help secure you some stronger gin and tonics or snacks.) And you can always leave a tip in an envelope on your seat. Of course, if you really appreciate your attendant, a letter to the airline is hard to beat.
Don’t use the call button unless it’s an actual emergency
Want more pretzels? Need to know when the plane’s landing? Have trash you want pitched? Learn patience: The attendants will be around every 10 to 15 minutes.
Know the routines of your digestive system
In other words, use the bathroom before you board the plane so you don’t have to ask to use it during boarding, and cool your jets and wait for the beverage and snack service, which will come in its own time. Interfering with the flow of food dispersal and boarding access will brand you as not one of the ideal passengers an attendant can have.
Be reasonable about your carry-on luggage
By now we all know what will fit in the overhead bin. But if you deliberately ignore this fact, or are faced by a full upper compartment when you arrive at your seat, don’t get all huffy with the attendants. Let them gate check the bag and help the flight get moving as soon as possible. Speaking of which, once you are seated if you have carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you, don’t tie it to your leg! Yes, this actually happens.
Feet on the floor
On long haul trips, it’s easy to want to get as comfortable as possible, and most of the time attendants won’t fuss if you stretch out in a (rare) open seat. But keep your feet off the walls. It’s not sanitary, your feet probably have an odor, and if there’s turbulence you could get hurt.
Going to need your pill? Leave it in a bag you don’t have stuffed in the overhead compartment. Have a baby? Bring diapers and toys. Are you a vegetarian? Make sure you’ve ordered that meal ahead of time or bring your own food; the attendants don’t have a secret cache of diet-specific meals or baby-related items hidden away in case of emergency.
Entertain your young
Speaking of little ones, teach them how to be the best flyers of all. Attendants are not there to amuse them, but they will have to deal with cranky passengers if your cherub cries the whole journey or is so bored she fusses or kicks the seat in front of her. If you’ve decided to let him play his video games or movies on a tablet, make sure they’re fitted with headphones. And very well-behaved little ones may actually get some special attention from grateful attendants, if time allows.
We’re all human
You and the attendant both – and everyone on board your flight. We’re all squeezed into a miracle of modern science (a tin can that flies) and we all have to get along for the same amount of time. So rather than kicking back and thinking you’re securely in your living room, put on your grown-up behavior and find ways to make everything better for your fellow passengers and your attendants. Really, your flight will be friendlier for it.
Randee Dawn is a contributor for InsureMyTrip and can be found at randeedawn.com and @RandeeDawn on Twitter.