I truly enjoy bringing people to their destinations and hearing their stories. That is why being a flight attendant is the job for me. I laugh with my passengers, plan their activities, and help them get to weddings, funerals, and great vacations. All of this at 38,000 feet up in the air! I started at 20 years old and have a teaching degree. I thought I would do this for just a couple of years — it sounded fun.
After 38 years of flying, and all kinds of questions, I thought I had heard it all! Until last week when a passenger asked if we had toothbrushes on board. When I replied no, she asked if I had one for myself. When I replied yes, she asked if she could use that one! I am still shaking my head! Here are a few questions that make us flight attendants cringe.
1. What Is The Pilot Drinking?
This will inflame us as we consider ourselves safety professionals. This gets filed in the same column as talking about “bombs” — you just don’t say it. Our pilots are very diligent about your safety and spend hours studying their aircraft, working out unsafe events in the simulator, and truly caring about your safety onboard. It is not “just like driving a car.”
2. The Gate Agent Said You Could Seat Us Together?
There is a reason you are not seated together. No one likes paying extra fees and most of the time, that will eliminate the problem, but if you get to the airport and you are not all seated together, it’s time to reevaluate. Can you sit two by two instead of four together? I will try my best to help you but I cannot ask someone who paid extra for a window seat to move to a middle seat. I can usually find a solution, but it may not be the one you were hoping to get.
Pro Tip: Ask the passengers around you to switch. If people see you with children, they are usually understanding and want to help.
3. Can I Just Sit Here?
“It’s my anniversary, my birthday, my honeymoon.” I am sorry to say that those days are gone, along with the hot meals we used to serve — “chicken or beef.” We do not upgrade seats onboard. That is all handled at the gate, thank goodness. I know that first-class seat is empty, but the person next to it paid for it and would understandably be upset if I just allowed you to sit there. If it is your honeymoon, I will find some champagne and we will celebrate!
Pro Tip: Bring some candy or a small gift for your flight attendants. It can get you a lot of attention.
4. What Hotel Do You Stay At?
Security is a big thing with airline personnel. We cannot tell you where we stay. In some foreign cities, we have armed escorts to take us to the hotel. I usually say, “I will tell you but then I will have to terminate you,” and laugh because people should understand we need privacy.
5. (Ringing The Call Button) Can I Have A Coke?
I will admit that when the call button sounds, we all look wildly at each other thinking, who is gonna take that one? It is a mixed feeling. We are there for you to call us. But don’t call to hand us your trash. We go through the aisle with trash bags every 15 minutes. If someone in your row calls us for a beverage, please, please tell us if you want one also! I would rather bring two drinks at once instead of on another trip.
6. What? What Did You Say?
Please! When you see the beverage cart approaching and you want a drink, please hit “pause” on your movie and take off your headset, preferably before we get there. Flight attendants truly dislike asking you three times if you want something to drink. When talking to my colleagues about these questions, this was the number one thing that makes us cringe.
7. How Many Days Do You Work?
Flight attendant jobs are a whole different animal. We may do a 3-day trip and then have 4 days off, or we have the ability to work 2 weeks in a row and have the rest of the month off. Trying to explain this to people who work a regular job is difficult and they usually believe I only work part-time, or that we do not work very hard. But if you have ever been with me on a lengthy mechanical delay, hours in the making, you would know we are there for you. Recently in a delayed flight, my crew opted to contractually extend our hours to get you home (voluntarily prolonging our work day to over 16 hours).
8. Is This Your Usual Route?
Back in the old days, we used to have “routes.” We would fly the same city pairings each week for a month. I miss those as I would get to know the business people who flew each week, and I would also get to know the city. Technology has allowed us to pick our flights and the dates we want to fly them, all based on seniority, so “regular” routes are a thing of the past. When you ask us this question we have to bring you into the 21st century — though I miss those old go-go boots!
9. What Lake Is That Down There?
I really don’t know which lake that is and I would be happy to call the pilots and ask for you. But I would have to leave the beverage cart and that slows down service, and people get anxious for their drinks. If the flight attendant answers immediately something like, “Clear Lake” you know they are fibbing. We do not know which city, lake, or mountain is out your window. We are too busy to look out the windows.
10. Can You Lift My Bag For Me?
I have known snarky flight attendants who will say, “You bring it, you sling it.” We cannot lift your bag for you, but I would be happy to check it, for free, to your final destination. In a single day I could fly with over 600 passengers, if I lifted their bags think about how much lifting that would entail.
11. Can You Call And Hold My Connection?
Believe me when I say my employer knows we are running late. We have a team that monitors connections in each city, and they are on top of it! They will usually have you rebooked on the next flight or have someone there in a cart to whisk you away to your connection. Technology has really aided with connections.
Additional Travel Tips
- All of us are there to help you with your life journeys. I feel thrilled when families reunite, when soldiers return home, and when children see their grandparents.
- Check your bags. Airline apps will track your bag so you will know it’s traveling with you.
- Bring a small blanket or sweatshirt with a hoodie. Temperature-wise, it is difficult to make everyone in the cabin happy, and the blanket could also be used as a pillow.
- Always have a pen. You will need it for travel forms.
- Grab a bottle of water and a snack in the airport.
- If there is turbulence, flight attendants remain seated.