It’s a very special Travel Tip Tuesday, my friends! Today, I’m sharing some interesting information I got from a flight attendant from one of the largest airlines in America. He’s been making your flights run a little more smoothly for over nine years, and he let me in on some great tips and information that flight attendants want us flyers to know! His identity is being concealed for his privacy and protection–there’s some juicy stuff here!
1. What can passengers do (besides follow directions) to help the flight attendants? Please don’t touch the beverage or food carts. I once had some guy reach into my cup of lemons and grab a few. I asked him nicely to ask us for lemons instead of reaching into the cup, and he put them back in the cup. Obviously, that’s not sanitary, so I had to dump all those lemons and cut more.
Also, please make sure you can lift your own carry-on luggage. We’re not really supposed to put your luggage in the overhead bins for you. The boarding process will go a lot faster if everyone takes care of their own stuff.
2. What do you wish passengers knew?
Not all male flight attendants are gay! And you don’t want to tick off your flight attendant, especially before the door closes. Did you have to check your carry-on plane side? I’ve known flight attendants who made sure a rude passenger’s luggage got tagged to a different destination.
3. What’s your favorite route to fly, and why?
Transcontinental flights (East Coast to West Coast and back) are the best routes for me. With those flights, I can work the most hours in the least amount of days: about 11-12 hours worth of work in one day.
4. What do you like best about being a flight attendant?
It’s never the same. I’m not stuck in a cubical, I’m working with different people every day, it’s unpredictable, and it’s very flexible. I can trade flights with my colleagues to get better hours for me, and of course there’s the benefit of flying for free.
5. What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Rambunctious passengers. Once you get on that plane, anything a passenger does wrong can be a federal offense. I’ve had to confiscate alcohol from passengers who were drinking it on the flight, and that’s just uncomfortable for everyone.
6. Have you ever had to deal with a medical emergency on a flight?
There was an incident on a flight from Palm Beach one day, a woman passed out and her eyes tolled back in her head, which is a really bad sign. She was eventually ok.
The worst one, though, was the long-haul flight when I got sick. Not long after we took off, I started to feel sick, and it turns out I had pretty severe food poisoning. The flight attendants actually had to give me an IV and rope off the last row of seats for me. That was the worst because it was me!
7. Do you have any packing tips?
I always pack ziplock bags, especially for liquids or foods. I also make sure I have a sweatshirt when I’m flying as a passenger because planes get so cold. I also make sure I have a small extension cord with me to keep my devices charged on the plane. Something flight attendants can bring with them that passengers cannot are full-sized liquids, and a lot of people don’t know that.
8. What qualifications does a flight attendant have to have?
Most airlines require flight attendants to be 21 or over, but some regional airlines allow their flight attendants to be 18 or over. Airlines look for people who have good customer service experience and who can think quickly on their feet. When you’re dealing with so many different people, you will encounter so many different situations, so we need people who can think on their feet.
9. When and where do flight attendants sleep on those super long-haul flights?
We use an app that lets us sign up for “shifts” throughout the flight so you can sign up for your working time and sleep time. On larger jets, there’s a bunk area. But on the smaller flights we just partition off the last couple of rows for us to sleep in.
10. What’s the strangest thing you’ve found that someone left on a plane?
I found this yesterday. I’ll be heading back to San Diego tomorrow, and I’ll be able to return it then. I was taking meal orders and heard something buzzing in the seat pocket but didn’t think anything of it. Then after we landed and started to deplane, I looked in and there it was.
Do you have questions for a flight attendant? Comment with your questions below, and your question may come up in a future blog post!