Between flight delays and cramped spaces, traveling 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 behaviors from passengers that can be considered quite rude or bothersome.
Cortney 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
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 maximize 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 Cortney. “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
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
“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 Cortney. “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
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
You should look up from the ground and take your headphones out when the flight attendants greet you, Randley, a flight attendant for a domestic US airline, said.
“If I greet you, please have the courtesy to answer me back,” she told Cortney. “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 airplane seats or bare toes on armrests or tray tables
Randley said that it’s important to remember airplane 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
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
One of Randley’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
Fox told Cortney 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
“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.
Bad-mouthing the airline while on the plane
“We aren’t flying in the golden age of flying when everyone receives a pillow and a blanket,” Randley told Cortney. “We all know airplanes 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.”
Crowding their space in the galleys and jump seats
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 utilize 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
Even if your favorite 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 Cortney. “It slows us down, having to repeat ourselves, and we do not like doing it.”
Treating the plane like a supermarket
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
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
“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
“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.