The majority of us have, at one point or another, traveled by plane. Whether it be for business or pleasure, chances are you’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to have your flight delayed or canceled, your bags lost, a not so tasty meal in the sky, and unruly passengers. While your experience with this might be once or twice a year, that’s not the case with flight attendants and gate staff!
Imagine if your job involved dealing with disgruntle customers, in person, on a daily basis. Welcome to the life of a flight crew. It’s not an easy job, but it does come with some perks that make it desirable for people who want to travel the country or even the Globe.
However, this article is not about the pros and cons of being a flight attendant. It’s actually an insider’s guide to flying with tips provided directly from flight attendants.
Ever wonder how often those tray tables are cleaned? Well read on because we cover that and so much more…
When a pilot wishes you a safe flight and all that other stuff they tell you, they skip one thing. That’s once they have steered the plane to its flight path to the next airport, they take it easy. One of them may take a nap or while the other prepares for the destination. At that time, the plane is mostly on autopilot. The plane flies itself for a while until there is an emergency caused by turbulence and the pilot has to steer to safety.
Because of the time constraints and the need not to delay flights, there is never enough time to stop and sanitize or even clean the food trays. The exception is when you spill food on them. Even then, the flight crew can just wipe it clean with a paper towel. You therefore need to think about carrying a “hand sanitizer”, or just remember not to eat anything that lands accidentally lands on the food tray.
Think about that for a minute. Would you eat at a restaurant that never cleaned their tables or trays?
There is no guarantee the flight crew will handle your bag with care even when you label it “fragile.” They guys handling the bags need to save time and space. The only way to do that is to handle the bags in a manner that helps them work as fast and efficiently as possible. That cannot happen if they have to walk on eggshells!
Out of every 1000 passengers, about 3 people will have lost their bags. Considering that there are about 2.5 billion tickets sold each year, it means that about 7.5 million bags get lost annually! Who is to blame for that? Well, it could be the delays when the TSA pulled your bag for random screening, a mistake in the bag room; could it be the new guy? Other times, it could be that you checked your bag too early or too late. If you check too early, and your bag lies around for over six hours, it’s easy for someone to shove it to a corner and forget about it, if you check in too late, you’re to blame.
This might seem scary but most planes do not go for a full year before lightning strikes them. The good news is that modern planes are well equipped to handle those lightning bolts. In fact, the last flight crash attributed to a lightning strike happened in 1967.
Typically the lightning strikes the wings or nose of the plane, continues through the outer shell and then exits through another area of the plane such as the tail. The lightning will always continue to make it’s way down to the ground, so a strike happens in the blink of an eye. The reality is that if you are flying in a plane and it’s struck by lightning, you might just see a flash out the window. It’s extremely rare that it causes things like mechanical failure.
If you open your bags for inspection and leave them that way, you have made them accessible to everybody else. It’s common for other passengers to check what’s in bags that do not belong to them. Yes, not everybody is honorable; some people just want to take what does not belong to them. As long as they find something that is useful to them in your bag, they will take it.
Most people blame the air in the plane for being the leading cause of infection for frequent flyers. However, it’s not the air that you should be worried about; Hi-tech filters filter the air over 20 times each hour. Take the food trays, for example, they are not the gamiest part of the plane, but they never get cleaned, that’s why you need to rest your food on the paper napkins, always. Germs cover the armrests, buttons, seat belt, and lavatory of the plane. The flight crew never cleans them because of time constraints.
The airline gives the captain the same powers that the cruise ship gives to the ship captain. They pilot can have you escorted off the plane if you give the flight attendants a hard time. Even when you are midway through the flight, it’s common for the planes to make an emergency landing so that you can be arrested before the plane continues the rest of the flight. So if you get a warning from the captain, which rarely happens, you just got off easy, take it seriously.
When they tell you to switch off your phone or put it in flight mode, it’s not because the phone is going to bring down the plane. It’s because the plane’s communication equipment can pick up the phone signals and play them in the pilot’s headphones. The resulting sounds made by over 100 mobile phones make it hard for the pilot to communicate with other planes or control towers. Maybe, we could say they may cause pilot error.
While some people may have died at the wrong time, some people die at the wrong time and place (is there ever a right time or place). When that place is far away from their kin, they have to be transported back home. Since most people cannot afford a private flight for their departed, the remains have to be transported as cargo regardless of whether it’s internationally or domestically. The human remains are codenamed HR and the only way to identify them is by the look of the wooden boxes containing them.
You may have noticed that when the plane lands, they usually dim the lights. That is not because they want to make you feel uncomfortable or stop you from reading a book, signal the end of the flight, or anything of that nature. They do it to get you ready for an emergency evacuation if there is need for one. Dimming the lights helps to adjust your eyes to the darkness. Which comes in handy if it’s dark or cloudy outside and you need to move fast.
If you do not have to take a flight with your pet, then you should not do it at all. While the airlines do everything to make the pets as comfortable as possible, they don’t offer noise protection for pets. Take the noise on the ramp for example, where your pet has to wait in a crate before getting loaded in the plane. It’s simply too much, that’s why humans working in such sections wear some form of ear protection gear. You pet has to undergo all that stress, not knowing what’s really happening!
Are you always on edge while checking in for your flight, well, you need to be polite when talking to the check-in staff. If you annoy them, they just smile back knowing they can do something such as putting you in an area full of kids. Kids are great but you do not want to be near them while they are on edge, which is common when people move away from their comfort zone.
The flight attendants are not interested in getting romantically involved with the passengers. Well, not with each passenger they have ever met. It’s normal for someone who is still and hopeful to one day get a soul mate to wonder about a potential mate, but it’s never an obsession to get romantic with passengers. However, occasionally, the flight crew does hear of a flight attendant who met a passenger after work and they did not regret it.
In movies, this seems to be a common thing, passengers sneaking into the lavatory to join the “Mile High Club”. According to my friend who is a flight attendant, this has only happened once in her career and they got an apology for it. They also gave them a stern talking to about it and that was it. Maybe if they had known how filthy those places are and the fact that they rarely get sanitized, they wouldn’t have done it. Overall, most passengers are respectable and they frown at such habits.
The aviation industry is more or less like the hospitality and tourism industry. The staff appreciates it when they offer you a good service and you tip them. For example, if you gave them the current issue of your used magazine, they will appreciate it. In return, they will offer you an excellent service and make your flight better than they would normally do! It’s all about saying, I know it’s not easy for you, and I appreciate what you do for us even though it’s your job.
How many times have you gone to check in for your flight at the terminal, and the line is a mile long and there’s nobody in the “First Class” line? That line is not run by the TSA, so don’t be intimidated when it comes to sneaking into that line. At the very worst, the agent at the desk will ask you to get in the other line. However, if you throw some charm at them they might give you the hook up and just check you into your flight. Especially if you’re traveling alone and only have one bag to check.
The flight crew does not appreciate it when you grumble about delays. Just like you at your place of work or some other place where you are not a decision maker, they have no say on such matters. What’s more, they do not like delays either, so be nice to them as they are to you.
Just as their job title suggests, they only get paid when the plane is on flight. Before the cabin door gets closed, they are not considered to be working. It’s common for most of them to get paid less than $20,000 a year. That’s why they also do not appreciate it when there are delays, which leads to a low flight count at the end of the month.
The flight crew members sometimes wish you knew they do not make the stringent rules that modern flights subject you to, those rules are made by the FAA. Maybe you can blame the terrorists for making the FAA raise the bar for safety standards that airlines have to follow. The rules are set by the FAA to keep everybody safe while on their flight.
You should know that the crew refolds those pillows and blankets and stuffs them in the cabin in between flights. Don’t plan to be so comfortable under them if you care about your skin’s hygiene. There are rare moments when there are fresh blankets and pillows available in the plane, such as when the plane is on its maiden flight.
Are you a frequent but rude flyer? Well, you may think that being a frequent flyer gives you a reason to be rude to the flight attendants. Such as when you believe, the crew has not treated you nicely. If you do that, they simply note in your account that you’re a “troublesome customer.” That means you will not a get a free upgrade even where there is an opportunity.
Moving passengers because the passenger next to you is making you uncomfortable is an awkward situation for everybody involved. Especially when the passenger causing the discomfort to others is an overweight or has bad hygiene, there is just now way of being discrete about it. After all, imagine being in their shoes? Under no circumstances would you be happy if someone told you that it’s being requested for you to move your seat because of body issues. Rather than complain about someone, it’s best that you simple request that you are moved to another open seat.
The flight crew is swayed with food gifts or bribes. Like when you bring in an exotic cuisine and share them with the attendant. As long as it’s cool stuff such as chocolate wafers, you will easily make a friend on that flight. They are used to the regular food available on flights, just like you who is a regular traveler. A change is nice even for them.
They appreciate that you are a friendly person but they need you to let them be professional. They have a lot to do and the least they expect from you is small talk that will keep them from doing their work. Just a “Thank You” or a tip is enough to let them know you’re friendly and courteous as well. You know that awesome feeling when you finish your tasks early. When you get some free time to read some magazines or catch up with friends or something like that before you sleep? They want and need that experience as well.