Most travelers step onto an airplane, find their seat, shove their bag, buckle up, pop in earbuds and conk out without giving the flight attendant a second thought. But the career that wraps up being a high-altitude waitress, bus boy, safety instructor, medic and keeper of the peace all into one is interesting to consider, especially when you factor in the range of emotions they’ll encounter from passengers depending on the day, destination and delay.
Travel writer and founder of AirfareWatchdog George Hobica knows a quite a few flight attendants. With that association, he’s learned a few of their secrets.
In his post “17 Things Your Flight Attendant Won’t Tell You,” which although published in the Huffington Post Blog just before the new year is so fascinating and/or hilarious we couldn’t help but still share it. Hobica writes (emphasis added):
I asked them what they’d tell their passengers if they could tell them anything at all, or what secrets they’d reveal only if granted complete anonymity. All I can say is that these people do not represent every single flight attendant in the skies, so if you’re a flight attendant yourself, please hold your fire and don’t shoot the messenger. But I didn’t make this stuff up. What you read here may shock you, or make you laugh, I’m not sure which.
Here are a few from the list he compiled:
- You know that coffee you ordered? It’s actually decaf even though you asked for regular. We’d rather that you sit back, relax and fall asleep so you don’t bother us too much. Our airline sent around a memo wondering why the decaf supplies were going so fast, noting that decaf costs more than regular coffee.
- If a flight is late, the airline might have to pay us overtime. If the flight is going to be late anyway, we’ve been known to delay it even further in order make sure overtime kicks in, which on our airline means up to double the hourly pay. We might find some minor defect in the aircraft or use some other ruse to make up for the money we don’t get paid waiting for take off.
- When I ask you what you’d like to drink and you ask me “Well, what do you have?” I want to answer “Not a lot of time.” But you wouldn’t like that.
- We really don’t like children. Not just your children, children period. Why do you think we chose a career where we spend half our lives away from home?
- On night flights, we sometimes hold off on meal service as long as we can so that you’ll be asleep and we’ll have less to do.
- Don’t ask me where you can shove your bag. I’ve been waiting 12 years to tell you where you can shove it.
- When we “arm” the doors on your aircraft, each flight attendant checks the work of his colleague at the opposite door. You’ve heard it a million times: “arm doors and cross check.” Did you hear “crotch check?” It wasn’t your imagination. We get silly sometimes. And yes, despite all the cross checking — maybe because we’re checking crotches instead — once in a great while we screw up and we forget to arm the doors, which means the emergency slides won’t automatically deploy if needed in an emergency. We can get fired for that.
- Yes, we can upgrade you to business class or first class after the airplane’s doors close. No, we don’t do it very often, partly because on some airlines we have to file a report explaining why we did it, partly because there has to be a meal for you and partly because the forward cabins are often full. Who do we upgrade? Not the slob who’s dressed in a dirty tank top. It helps if you’re extremely nice, well dressed, pregnant, very tall, good looking, one of our friends or all of the above.
- Yes, we do ask the captain to leave the seatbelt on long after the turbulence has ended so we can serve in the aisles.
Be sure to read Hobica’s full list here.