There are thousands of people who have never stepped foot onboard an airplane. Eventually, an opportunity to travel will present itself and these first time flyers will enthusiastically pack their suitcases and embark on their maiden flight. But will you be guilty of making these mistakes on your first flight? As a Flight Attendant, I see these airplane travel rules being violated by first timers and even frequent flyers.
First off, I’m aware that the majority of people have misconceptions about the role of Flight Attendants. I once gave a talk to a group of 10 year olds for career day. I posed the following question to the group. “What is the reason for Flight Attendants on the plane?” One young man immediately raised his hand and said, “a maid?” OK. It’s time to nip that perception in the bud. A Flight Attendant’s primary job responsibility is to save your life in the unlikely event of an emergency.
The likelihood of an incident occurring is upon takeoff and landing. It’s one of those rare jobs you continuously train for and pray that you never have to use your training. Everything else we do onboard is simply to make your flight as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.
If you want to reveal your status as a first time flyer, or a VIP flyer, here are 20 airplane travel rules to keep in mind when you fly.
- Block The Aisle During Boarding. This is surefire tactic to bring joy to your fellow passengers patiently waiting behind you. They love watching your award-winning technique as you fold your clothing and gently place it in the overhead bin. Also, blocking the aisle gives onlookers the opportunity to admire your gluteus Maximus.
- Take Up An Entire Overhead Bin. Imagine the delight your plane mates will have when they see you’ve taken all the overhead bin space. After all, you’re a V.I.P. (Very Inconsiderate Passenger). They won’t mind checking their tiny roller board because of your elite status. Another shameless tactic is using the first class overhead bin if you’re booked in the coach cabin. Remember, you’re a VIP. Feel free to place your items in the first class cabin despite the fact you’re sitting in 31A.
- Be High Maintenance As Soon As You Board. Flight Attendants simply adore this type of behavior. You’ll get special attention as word will quickly spread using the interphone system. We love performing service during boarding just for you. After all, it’s your duty to be certain you get everything that’s free because your cheap cheap airfare entitles you to it.
- Blame The Flight Attendants For Delays. Ah! The joys of traveling. You haven’t traveled until your flight has been delayed. It’s sheer pleasure for everyone involved – especially your Flight Attendants. Imagine the excitement they experience because they get to stay on the job without pay. Did you know that the flight crew only gets paid when the door is closed and the brake is released? Anyway, working ‘overtime’ without pay is a privilege and taking the blame for weather, air traffic, etc., is another highlight of their workday.
- Make Physical Contact With The Flight Attendants. After all, touch is everything, right? There aren’t many places that come to mind where this is acceptable behavior. But on board, anything goes. We Flight Attendants simply love it when you poke us, tug on our uniform, or pinch us to get our attention. This is the calling card of a newbie traveler to get our attention. Here’s a novice concept, how about using our name? That’s what those tiny metal bars we wear are for.
- Comment That Your Bags Fit On The Last Plane. This is an opportune time to act puzzled when you can’t fit your items in the overhead bin. You should make comments such as, ‘well it fit on the last flight’. Here’s why it may not. Your airline may fly several types of aircraft. Therefore, your oversized roller board that fit on the 747 on your last flight won’t fit on the Dash-8 this time around. If this happens, throw a hissy fit and cause a commotion when you have to check your bag.
- Hang Out In The Galley. Oh, this is a favorite of Flight Attendants. If you’re bold enough to hang out in their limited work space, then go for it. Don’t be concerned that there’s barely enough room for the Flight Attendants to work in. After all, the more the merrier. And while you’re back there, why not do your stretching exercises as they’re sitting on their jumpseats? They will be your BFF as you stretch and put your body parts in their faces.
- Sneak Into First Class During The Boarding Process. This takes guts but I bet you can pull it off. However, don’t act surprised when you’re busted and have to walk with your tail between your legs to the economy or business class section. Flight Attendants receive a passenger manifest with a seat map at the completion of the boarding process. They know who belongs where. See if you’ve got what it takes to give yourself a free first class upgrade.
- Get Annoyed If Your TV Monitor Is Not Working. There are limited options Flight Attendants may perform if the majority of the TVs aren’t working while in the air. These actions are limited to resetting the system, aka, the control-alt-delete trick you use on your computer or turning it off. If that doesn’t work, become annoyed that you can’t watch TV and ask if you can get a refund on your airline ticket. It’s pretty difficult to smuggle a set of tools through the security checkpoint. But if we could, we’d love to.
- Continuously Ring The Call Button. Who can resist the temptation of that little button? Just think about the power lying dormant in that tiny button. If you push it, they will come. Imagine, someone will appear to fetch you whatever your heart desires. Ringing the button is acceptable when you use it for valid reasons. But those of you sitting in an aisle seat and ringing the call button when the seat belt sign is off, you get the Mile High award of the day.
- Take It Personally If We Skip You. Don’t use this as a reason to round up your fellow passengers and attack the Flight Attendant if he or she skips you or your row. In this occurrence, it’s OK to ring your call button. Flight Attendants are human just like everybody else and on occasion, they may miss you, so don’t take it that they’re out to get you. However, if you’ve been designated a VIP, that may simply be payback for prior actions.
- Refer To Flight Attendants As Stewardesses. This is a splendid way to date yourself and let everyone around you know your last flight was in 1972. This is a dated and politically incorrect phrase. The male Flight Attendants don’t like this term as it’s used to refer to a female. Employees who work on a plane are usually referred to as cabin crew, cabin staff or Flight Attendants.
- Remove Books, Magazines, Or Food From a Flight Attendant’s Bag. Do you have sticky fingers? Not everything on board is public property, and that includes your Flight Attendants’ personal items such as newspapers, magazines, books and food. It’s not that we don’t like to share. When we’re done reading it, we’d be more than happy to recycle and give it to you.
- Say ‘What?’ While Wearing Your Earphones. We know you love your TV time and enjoy using your personal electronic devices. When we ask you what you want, please refrain from saying ‘what’ or ‘huh’ while continuing to wear your earphones. It will only take 4.3 seconds to interact with us. After all, we don’t bite – hard!
- Not Speaking Up. When your seat mate asks for something, and you want something as well, just let us know. Don’t wait until we come back and say, “Oh I’d like some ginger ale too”. This is one of those rare occasions where you will get the perfected Flight Attendant eye roll. Feel free to remind us if it seems we forgot your request. We usually get anywhere from 5-7 requests every time we pass though the cabin and on occasion, your request may have slipped our minds.
- Hand Us Your Trash During Service. If we’re in the middle of serving you a beverage, a meal or a snack, now is not a good time to hand us your trash. Also, think twice about handing us your trash and say you’ve got a present for us. I’m 100% sure it’s not any present I want.
- Give Us Your Kid’s Diaper. Really? I’m sure your baby is the absolute cutest, but human waste isn’t. Please dispose of it either in the lavatory or take it with you to dispose of properly. And no parting gifts in the seat-back pocket either. Yuck!
- Try to Get a Free Ticket By Complaining. Oh yeah, the stuff of urban legends. Some complaints are valid, just like with any company. Airlines can tell the professional complainers from the valid complaints. Just because you complain doesn’t entitle you to a free airplane ticket. Constant complainers may end up on that airline’s No Fly List which may ban you from flying that airline forever.
- Ask Us If You’ll Make Your Connecting Flight. Let’s see. I must first summon my Magic 8 Ball to get the answer. Let’s recap your question. You didn’t tell me your name, you didn’t say your connecting flight number or your departure time and you didn’t indicate your destination. What does the Magic 8 Ball Say? “Cannot Predict Now”.
- Forgetting To Enjoy The Journey. Obviously, this is a lighthearted look at today’s mass airplane transportation. Taking time out to sometimes laugh at ourselves and not take things so seriously can actually diffuse less than desirable situations thus making them easier to handle. As with anything in life, it’s always your perspective that will change our view. Keep in mind that we don’t see that world as it is, we see the world as we are. Now you’re aware of the Top 20 Airplane Travel Rules, hopefully your fellow passengers and Flight Attendants will thank you for complying with this ‘Unofficial Etiquette Guide’. Fly Safe!