Airplane Etiquette: Flight Attendant Edition


Spending several hours of travel in close quarters with several dozen other people at 30,000 feet is no easy task, patience-wise. Even the most experienced air travelers get antsy from time to time. And when you get antsy, its easy to become disgruntled. Thats where etiquette comes in. Unless youre wealthy enough for a private jet, air travel with tons of strangers is a necessary evil; consequently, making a flight easy for yourself so often depends on making it easy for everyone else. For the sake of common courtesy, adhering to a little airplane etiquette is an obligation were all privy to.

This edition focuses on how to properly treat your flight attendants. A recent LA Times article revealed a number of interesting anecdotes and examples from the hectic routine flight attendants engage in day in and day out. And if theres one conclusion to be drawn from this picture, its that regardless of how annoying you think flying can be, attendants have to put up with much more on a regular basis. Above everyone else on that plane (except maybe the pilot), flight attendants deserve your patience and your respect. Here are a few pieces of proper etiquette when it comes to pleasing your attendants:

1. Pass the time in your seat, not in the lavatory. It irks attendants when patrons bring a newspaper or laptop with them to the bathroom. Bringing something with you signals that you plan to spend a long time in there, and part of a flight attendants job is to keep restroom service as readily available as possible at all times. Do them a favor and be prompt in the lavatory.

2. Be ready for your server before theyre ready for you. Try to remain aware if your flight attendant is making food/drink rounds. Attendants dont have a lot of time; delaying them is not a helpful way to stay on their good side. If you want something, make sure youre ready with your request by the time they arrive at your seat. This means taking off your headphones or shutting off distractions in advance.

3. If you want an upgrade to first class, look the part. Flight attendants rarely upgrade patrons in coach to first class because it usually means extra paperwork or service. However, many attendants are perfectly willing to upgrade you if they find you agreeable. This means appearing well dressed and, especially, minding your manners. Of course, it also helps if youre really, really good-looking.

4. The easiest way to please an attendant? Fall asleep. Sleeping passengers are the easiest passengers for flight attendants to deal with. They require no food or drink service, they make no requests or complaints, and they stay out of the aisles. So, if during a long flight you find yourself feeling vexed, dont take it out on an attendant. Try instead to simply sleep it off.

5. Good service is a privilege, not an obligation. Theres no excuse for being rude or short with your flight attendants. Theyre there to serve you, but that doesnt mean they have to. Shaking an empty glass at an attendant or reprimanding him/her for inferior service is the easiest way to lose his/her service completely. Remain patient and polite, and your attendants will respond in kind.