When I think of flight attendants, I’m reminded of the classic Saturday Night Live sketch in which David Spade, and usually a co-host, would greet passengers on their way off the plane with a reluctant smile and a dismissive “buh-bye.” People in the service industry do not have easy jobs, and flight attendants especially have a lot to juggle, and they’re required to do it while providing excellent customer service.
Airline crew members must train for eights weeks with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before they’re allowed into the position. They must learn CPR, first aid, in-flight firefighting, defibrillation, emergency landing procedures, and security. Plus, they must provide excellent customer services or risk the wrath of grumpy passengers. Most of the men and women in this position are much too professional to talk poorly about their jobs to any customers, but don’t you secretly want them to give the dirt? Fortunately, I spoke to two friend who work as flight attendants, and they agreed to divulge some of the secrets of their job.
Likewise, they led me to to a Reddit thread where other pilots and flight attendants divulged some of their secrets. Please SHARE these secrets. If they’re true, it’s good to know!
1. "Mobile electronic devices won't really bring an airplane down but they can be really annoying to pilots. Just imagine sitting in the flightdeck descending to your destination and hearing the interference of a 100+ cellphones picking up a signal. I have missed a clearance or two that way."
2. "A lot of freight gets shipped on commercial flights. One of these items were always called HR on the radios. HR was an abbreviation for 'Human Remains.' Some people die far away from where they want to get buried. They're packed in wood-framed boxes, so you would never know what was inside except by the strange shape of them."
3. "When a plane is landing at night, they dim the interior lights in case you need to evacuate upon landing... your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness so you'll be able to see better once outside the plane."
4. "One thing I cannot stress enough is how your pets are treated. While your airline will take the best possible actions, some things cannot be avoided, like the noise on the ramp. I cannot stand out there without ear protection, and imagine your pet sitting out there on the ramp waiting to be loaded onto the plane being exposed to the same amount of noise I am. Please people, think twice before flying your pets."
5. "When a passenger is disgustingly rude to check-in staff, they would put him in an area circled with children. Do not piss your check-in staff off, they will smile politely as they return your boarding pass and you will never know the hell that awaits you."
6. "I absolutely took a passenger's phone number and we absolutely met up once I was off work. No regrets there, but normally we're definitely never interested in the passengers romantically."
7. "I only saw someone having sex in the lavatory once. They apologized. I gave them a talking to. It was over. I think if they had known how filthy those bathrooms really are, they wouldn't have done it to begin with."
8. "People don't know we accept tips. If you offer me a gift, or even your used magazines, it's appreciated, and I'll see what I can do to take care of you!"
9. "You know that first class line at security? Yeah, thats an airline thing, not TSA. Economy passenger? TSA doesn't care. Step right up."
10. "It's really irritating how every passenger blames us for delays and such — it's as if they think we want delays."
11. "We only get paid when the main cabin door is closed. I make less than 20K a year. This is common."
12. "The FAA makes the rules, not your flight crew. We're just the crew. Every decision comes from above. Remember that."
13. "Those blankets and pillows? Yeah, those just get refolded and stuffed back in the bins between flights. Only fresh ones I ever saw were on an originating first flight in the morning in a provisioning city."
14. "If you're demanding and rude, there's no way I'll give you a flight upgrade. Even if one's available. And if you're a frequent flyer, we'll note in your account that you're a problem customer."
15. "Honestly, one of the hardest parts of the job is having to move passengers because the passenger next to them is uncomfortable. I've had to move people because of their weight, and it's awkward for everyone."
16. "Food bribes totally work for me. I like when passengers bring cool local stuff that they know like green tea Kit Kats in Japan or these chocolate wafers in Athens."
17. "I'm a friendly person, but please don't think I'm there to make small talk with you. I appreciate your friendliness, but don't prevent me from doing the things I need to be doing."
18. "I would never, ever eat the food we serve and most of my colleagues don't either."
19. "The trays don't get cleaned as often as they should. Bring hand sanitizer."
Please note that these are all statements from anonymous sources and none of these statements have been verified by the FAA, but if they are true, I’m glad I know!