18 Things Flight Attendants Wish You Would Stop Doing

18 Things Flight Attendants Wish You Would Stop Doing
Ordering multiple drinks at a time can be bothersome to some flight attendants because it slows service down.

There are certain things passengers do during flights that can be annoying to some flight attendants and even fellow passengers. Here are some pet peeves you may not realise are annoying – from ordering multiple drinks at once to unpacking your overhead bags during the flight.

Between flight delays and cramped spaces, travelling can be a stressful experience for everyone involved, including flight attendants. When dealing with dozens or even hundreds of passengers each day, they can experience behaviours from passengers that can be considered quite rude or bothersome.

INSIDER spoke to three flight attendants to figure out some of the most frustrating thing passengers do (or don’t do) during their flights.

Here are 18 things flight attendants wish you’d stop doing.

Unpacking your overhead bags during a flight

ImageGet what you need from your bag before boarding the plane.

Holding up the boarding process is irritating for both the flight attendants working and your fellow passengers, said Haley Fox, a flight attendant for a domestic US airline.

“The best way to maximise everyone’s time and make your fellow passengers not hate you is to keep all of your necessities in the personal space at your seat,” she told INSIDER. “If you come onto a plane, then get to your seat and have to unpack your big roller bag in the middle of the aisle just to get to your headphones, you are the worst.”

Asking for non-necessities during safety demonstration

ImageThe safety demonstrations serve an important purpose.

Fox said whether you’re actually paying attention or not, you should respect that, first and foremost, flight attendants are safety professionals and the demonstration is for your own good.

“Wait until after the critical phases of flight (taxi, take off, and landing) are through to ask for things that are not immediately necessary,” said Fox. If your flight attendant is walking down the aisle with a life vest around their neck, she advises against ringing the call light to ask for a blanket.

Ordering multiple drinks at once

ImageIt slows down the service.

“When someone asks for a water, a coffee, and a Diet Coke, it slows down our service,” Jennifer L., a flight attendant for a domestic US airline, told INSIDER. “We have to get through the whole cabin. So instead, ask for one drink and we can always come back to give you something else after we’ve gotten through everyone.”

Asking which drinks they serve on the flight if it’s already been announced

ImageSometimes the drink menus can be pulled up on your TV screen.

Jennifer said that she gets asks this at least once per flight and it’s frustrating because there’s a menu and the drink choices are typically announced at the beginning of the flight.

“On top of slowing our service down it’s frustrating for us to have to tell you every item we have on our bar cart,” she said. “Please have your drink orders ready by the time we get to your row.”

Ignoring them when they greet you

ImageIt’s courteous to respond.

You should look up from the ground and take your headphones out when the flight attendants greet you, Monserrat Andujar, a flight attendant for a domestic US airline, said.

“If I greet you, please have the courtesy to answer me back,” she told INSIDER. “Don’t ignore me or pretend I don’t exist. I’ve woken up probably earlier than you and will be working past the time you arrive at home. So be kind and remember to have manners.”

Putting your shoes up on the aeroplane seats or bare toes on armrests or tray tables

ImageThe tray table isn’t meant to be a footrest.

Andujar said that it’s important to remember aeroplane cabins are a shared space, so try to keep them as clean as possible.

“No one cares whether you showered this morning – what people care about is the cleanliness of where they sit and eat their food from,” she said.

Disregarding safety compliance checks

ImageYour laptop shouldn’t be out during takeoff.

Fox said that this is the most common, dangerous, and frustrating thing she experiences on a daily basis.

“We make multiple announcements during boarding about safety compliance (seat upright, tray table locked, computer stowed, seatbelt fastened), so by the time we are ready for takeoff, those things have been said at a minimum, five times,” she said.

Fox said that she’s even had to remove passengers from the plane before takeoff because they wouldn’t comply with the plane’s safety regulations.

Asking to sit in an empty seat in first class

Another faux-pas? Asking the flight attendant to move you to that open seat in first class for free, Jennifer said.

“Flight attendants do not have the authority to upgrade you to first class,” she said. “Those seats are not up for grabs unless the gate agent upgrades you or you pay for a first-class seat prior to entering the aircraft.”

Not flushing the toilet

ImageIn air or not, flushing is important.

One of Andujar’s biggest pet peeves? Walking in on an un-flushed toilet. “There’s a large and bright blue, green, or white button that says ‘FLUSH.’ Just do it,” she said.

Ringing the flight attendant call button excessively or inappropriately

ImageIt should be used for emergencies or important requests.

Fox told INSIDER that, during training, flight attendants are taught to respond to the call button immediately because it is the fastest way for someone to signal that are in dire need of assistance.

“Don’t abuse it for small tasks like giving us garbage,” she added.

Walking around barefoot

ImageThey prefer if you keep your shoes (or at least your socks) on.

“Probably the most disgusting thing you could ever do is take your shoes and socks off and walk around the plane,” Jennifer said, adding the floor isn’t cleaned very often. Spare the flight attendants the sight (and smell) of your bare feet and keep something on your feet at all times.

Asking them to warm the plane up because you’re cold

ImageIf you’re dressing for warm weather, you might want to bring a hoodie or blanket.

“We aren’t flying in the golden age of flying when everyone receives a pillow and a blanket,” Andujar told INSIDER. “We all know aeroplanes are cold so wear pants. Bring a travel blanket or a hoodie. It’s that easy. Quit ringing your call button to tell me you’re cold and, ‘Can we warm [the plane] up?’ when you have flip-flops and a tank top on.”

Read More: Flight attendants share 4 secrets for what to wear for your next flight

Crowding their space in the galleys and jump seats

ImageThe galley shouldn’t be used as your personal workout space.

As much as you may want to move around during your flight, Fox said getting up and crowding the galley and jumpseat is a huge faux-pas.

“If you want to get up and move around during the flight, don’t utilise our only workspace as your stretch zone,” she said. “I don’t come to your office and put my butt in your face, please don’t downward dog and lunge around in mine.”

Leaving your headphones in when they try to talk to you

ImageIt can slow down the service.

Even if your favourite song is playing, it’s always best to take your headphones out when flight attendants are trying to talk to you.

“Whether we are briefing you for your safety or just taking your food and drink order, please take your headphones out,” Jennifer told INSIDER. “It slows us down, having to repeat ourselves, and we do not like doing it.”

Treating the plane like a supermarket

ImageYou can usually list your dietary restrictions before your flight.

Planes come with a limited supply of food and beverage items, Jennifer said. And if you didn’t specify dietary restrictions before your flight, they may not be able to be accommodated.

“We do not have everything,” she added. “Please don’t ask us if we have soy milk or some kind of food we didn’t say we had. If you have certain diet restrictions or don’t like the options we have, please bring your own food.”

Putting small items in the overhead bins

ImageThis is extra important on a full flight.

You may want to stow your jacket and purse in the overhead bin, but that actually creates a lot of stress for flight attendants when they have to fit larger carry-on bags, too.

“We have full flights with everyone trying to get their bags up in the bins,” Jennifer said. “Put your bag where there is space and put your smaller items underneath the seat in front of you. Nothing is more stressful for us when you’re putting jackets and purses up in the overhead [because] you’re creating less space for someone with a larger carry-on.”

Bad-mouthing the airline while on the plane

ImageFlight attendants don’t get paid during delays.

“The airline industry is unpredictable. We have delays, we have to cancel flights sometimes. We sometimes don’t have everything we need on board to serve you better,” Jennifer said. “What you don’t know is during those delays, we don’t get paid for that time so we understand your frustration, too.”

Using the bathroom right before takeoff and landing

ImageThe seatbelt sign is turned on for a reason.

“You have time to use the bathroom after you board the aircraft,” Jennifer said. “Right before we take off or land is not the time to go.”

She said the seatbelt sign is turned on for safety reasons and it’s worth listening to.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.


  • Unpacking your overhead bags during a flight
    Hmm, this heading talks about during the flight, but the text under it seems to talk about unpacking bags during boarding. The latter I understand, but the former? What is the purpose of having carry-on luggage if you’re not supposed to get anything out of it?

    • I suspect from this and other remarks, that this piece is written from a US perspective.
      Disclaimer: I have worked for a US airline (not as flight crew) and their conditions are pathetic compared to Oz/NZ.

  • While most of these seem like common sense there are a few I’m not sold on.

    Multiple drinks is a good example. Surely it’s less time consuming to ask for a coffee and a water at the same time than to drag the attendant back to you in five minutes? Heck depending on where you sit they probably still haven’t finished their first round by the time you’re calling them back.

    As for unpacking bags from overhead storage. I see it like this, firstly you shouldn’t be carrying on a huge bag to put in overhead. I see so many people now with a laptop, backpack, rolling luggage, a jacket and duty free bags all being carried on. Unless it’s a 20+ hour flight you don’t need all that shit at your seat. Put most of it into checked luggage.

    I also reckon when you’re getting on the plane you have your book (or phone these days) in hand so you just but the overhead luggage away and you’re set for at least a couple hours. I have no problem with someone pulling something from overhead once the flight is in the air because typically there isn’t a lot of movement around the cabin.

    As for asking about drinks, I can’t remember a single flight where I’ve received a menu or been told what drinks are available in advance. So I’d certainly be asking about drinks. That said, I’d normally just ask for a favourite anyway so I’d assume that’s a non issue.

    As for the flight attendants not getting paid during delays – I wonder if that’s a US thing. I can’t imagine Australian Employee law being happy with that.

    • As for asking about drinks, I can’t remember a single flight where I’ve received a menu or been told what drinks are available in advance. So I’d certainly be asking about drinks.

      Yeah, that annoyed me. I assume this one is a case of when people are waaaaay too familiar with their work to be able to effectively put themselves in an outsider’s shoes any more. It transitions from, “Useful tips you should already probably know,” to, “I don’t like this part of my job, please go out of your way to help me not have to do that part of my job.”

      I’ve seen it all the time. Coworkers in pretty much any office environment, groaning and rolling their eyes at how stupid someone is because they didn’t know how to properly fill in a fucking arcane form. They effectively scoff: “Fuck me, these people are stupid. It’s almost as if they don’t deal with these forms a dozen times a day nearly every day of their lives!” It’s just a lack of perspective (or empathy). They’re too close to it to remember a time when these things were not second-nature. Same probably goes for a specific flight’s menu.

      If you only fly once or twice a year (or less) and not even the same airline at that, unless you’re an anally-retentive over-planner, there’s no reason for you to know the menu for a specific airline for a specific type of flight, in a specific seating class.

  • Most of these are useful. But planes are often waaay too cold. If I’m in long sleeves and shivering the AC should be turned up.

    (That said, I travel with a scarf for this reason.)

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