8 Things Your Flight Attendants Won’t Tell You

by Anne Roderique-Jones

8 Things Your Flight Attendants Won’t Tell You

by Anne Roderique-Jones

Gone are the days of our romanticized view of air travel (particularly in coach), with white-gloved flight attendants serving in-flight meals on delicate china. We spoke with Sandra White, who's been a flight attendant for a major airline for 20-plus years and has seen many ups and downs (literally!), for these eight secrets your flight attendant will never tell you.

Gone are the days of our romanticized view of air travel (particularly in coach), with white-gloved flight attendants serving in-flight meals on delicate china. We spoke with Sandra White, who's been a flight attendant for a major airline for 20-plus years and has seen many ups and downs (literally!), for these eight secrets your flight attendant will never tell you.

8
Flight attendants / iStock / yakobchukolena
Wine
1 of 8
How to Score a Free Drink

Getting a free beer on a flight is not all that hard. According to White, there are a few reasons why she'll give a customer a free drink, but it all comes down to one thing: being nice – really nice. If there are mechanical problems, and it's the airline's fault and you've been sitting on the tarmac forever without being rude, she'll comp you a drink. "I'm sure they need it," she says. If you only have cash (most airlines only take cards) and have been nice during the flight, she'll just give you the beer. "Basically, kindness goes a long way," says White.

Getting a free beer on a flight is not all that hard. According to White, there are a few reasons why she'll give a customer a free drink, but it all comes down to one thing: being nice – really nice. If there are mechanical problems, and it's the airline's fault and you've been sitting on the tarmac forever without being rude, she'll comp you a drink. "I'm sure they need it," she says. If you only have cash (most airlines only take cards) and have been nice during the flight, she'll just give you the beer. "Basically, kindness goes a long way," says White.

Washroom sign
2 of 8
How to Join the Mile High Club

With increased security, this is more complicated; but if joining the Mile High Club is on your travel bucket list, then White says there are a few tips that can help you get the job done. She recommends choosing the back lavatories while the flight attendants are stocking and cleaning up in the middle galley, after drink service on a night flight, and when the lights have been dimmed. She points out that going in separately is the best plan of action, and to make sure that the flight is smooth and the seatbelt sign is off. "Finally," she said, "clean up after yourself!"

 

With increased security, this is more complicated; but if joining the Mile High Club is on your travel bucket list, then White says there are a few tips that can help you get the job done. She recommends choosing the back lavatories while the flight attendants are stocking and cleaning up in the middle galley, after drink service on a night flight, and when the lights have been dimmed. She points out that going in separately is the best plan of action, and to make sure that the flight is smooth and the seatbelt sign is off. "Finally," she said, "clean up after yourself!"

 

Crying baby on flight
3 of 8
They Don't Really Hate Kids

No one really loves the sound of a screaming baby, but for the most part, flight attendants feel sorry for your bundles of joy on tear-soaked flights. White says that babies' ears begin to hurt around cruising altitude and she'll often suggest that they suck on a pacifier, a bottle, or their toy to help make them more comfortable. She says, "I've seen pets behave much worse."

No one really loves the sound of a screaming baby, but for the most part, flight attendants feel sorry for your bundles of joy on tear-soaked flights. White says that babies' ears begin to hurt around cruising altitude and she'll often suggest that they suck on a pacifier, a bottle, or their toy to help make them more comfortable. She says, "I've seen pets behave much worse."

Carry-on bag
4 of 8
They Do Hate Your Carry-Ons

It's not the passengers' fault that airlines charge ridiculous fees for checked luggage, but flight attendants are now forced to deal with your extra baggage. It's important to know that if you're a willing and able body, then it's the passengers' responsibility to put luggage in the overhead compartment, but White says that she's always happy to help anyone who needs it. 

Read more: Airline Baggage Etiquette 101
 

It's not the passengers' fault that airlines now charge ridiculous fees for checked luggage, but flight attendants are now forced to deal with your extra baggage. It's important to know that if you're a willing and able body, then it's the passengers' responsibility to put luggage in the overhead compartment, but White says that she's always happy to help anyone who needs it. 

First class
5 of 8
How to Get a Better Seat

Most often, your fate's in the hands of the gate agent if you're looking to score a free upgrade to first class; but on occasion, a flight attendant will send you straight to the front if the flight has space. How? White says she's always happy to make people more comfortable, so kindly asking is always appreciated. "You draw more bees with honey," she says. If you're rude, impatient, or disrespectful, you're not going anywhere. But any considerate person is welcome to move away from the lavatory or near a window if space allows.

Most often, your fate's in the hands of the gate agent if you're looking to score a free upgrade to first class; but on occasion, a flight attendant will send you straight to the front if the flight has space. How? White says she's always happy to make people more comfortable, so kindly asking is always appreciated. "You draw more bees with honey," she says. If you're rude, impatient, or disrespectful, you're not going anywhere. But any considerate person is welcome to move away from the lavatory or near a window if space allows.

Crew
6 of 8
Crews Really Do Have Love Affairs

It's not any different than other workplaces, but affairs are definitely common among airline crew members a la the movie Flight. White says that all the love connections in the industry could be because the crew is together non-stop for almost a week; they stay in the same hotel and often eat meals together. 

It's not any different than other workplaces, but affairs are definitely common among airline crew members a la the movie Flight. White says that all the love connections in the industry could be because the crew is together non-stop for almost a week; they stay in the same hotel and often eat meals together. 

Flight attendant
7 of 8
They're Not Just Waitresses or Waiters in the Sky

Sure, they serve you drinks and mediocre microwave food, but flight attendants are hired for your comfort, and above all – safety. It varies by airline, but most flight attendants receive two months pre-job training and the FAA requires four days of yearly refocus training. White says that a passenger's comfort is equally important to her. "Some people are scared to fly or come aboard crying because they've lost or left someone. I always keep a pack of tissues in my jacket for that reason."

Sure, they serve you drinks and mediocre microwave food, but flight attendants are hired for your comfort, and above all – safety. It varies by airline, but most flight attendants receive two months pre-job training and the FAA requires four days of yearly refocus training. White says that a passenger's comfort is equally important to her. "Some people are scared to fly or come aboard crying because they've lost or left someone. I always keep a pack of tissues in my jacket for that reason."

Wine
8 of 8
Their Least Favorite Type of Passenger is…

A drunk passenger. If you smell wasted, look wasted, and act wasted – park yourself at the airport restaurant and don't bother boarding the plane. According to White, annoying drunks demand booze before beverage service, think they're hilarious, flirt with flight attendants, and order two drinks at a time. White says, "I've only had to cut off two people – you really don't want to make a drunk person angry at 36,000 feet." 

A drunk passenger. If you smell wasted, look wasted, and act wasted – park yourself at the airport restaurant and don't bother boarding the plane. According to White, annoying drunks demand booze before beverage service, think they're hilarious, flirt with flight attendants, and order two drinks at a time. White says, "I've only had to cut off two people – you really don't want to make a drunk person angry at 36,000 feet." 

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