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Flight attendants: The Top Ten things that really bug them

Written By | Apr 26, 2020
flight attendants

Flight attendants for Germanwings performing in-flight service duties. Photo by Oxfordian Kissuth, via Wikipedia entry on Flight Attendants. CC 3.0 license.

CHARLOTTE, NC — The coronavirus pandemic continues to play havoc with economies and industries throughout the world. But the travel industry is among those hardest hit, particularly the cruise lines and airlines. Over the past several weeks, even the most well-traveled among us have not spent much time going through airport security. That’s due at least in part because few flights even remain on airline schedules. But perhaps as restrictions begin to ease on air travel, a primer on how to improve future flying experiences might prove timely now. And what better way to come up with helpful hints than by viewing aviation as seen by those who fly for a living: flight attendants.

Flight attendants have an easy job, right?

What most airline passengers see when oberving flight attendants at work is that their job appears ridiculously simple. Straightforward. The underlying reason in-flight personnel seem to be doing nothing more than routine tasks is primarily due to one simple fact. Statistically, flying in 2020 is extraordinarily safe.

But don’t be deceived. Like an umpire or a referee, the less you notice their presence the better the job they are doing.

Building on this, a flight attendant’s job focuses primarily on passenger safety and comfort. This may seem the easiest of tasks. But consider how you would personally respond to spending long hours in extremely cramped working conditions while dealing with grumpy or rude passengers throughout the day. And that’s just for starters.

On a daily basis, flight service workers hear and endure just about anything and everything irritating and problematic that you can imagine. Let’s resolve to help ease their collective burden as the airline industry comes back to life over the next week’s and months. To do our part, here’s our list of pet peeves to avoid when traveling by air. Avoiding these major and minor irritations and gaffes could help to make your trip far more pleasant and rewarding for both you and the airline staff as outlined on the Best Life website.

  • Stewardesses are a thing of the past:

    The proper terminology is “fight attendant.” For whatever reason, the word “stewardess” implies the idea of being a flying waitress. It may seem like a minor distinction for you, but it brings considerably more dignity to the job for the airline employee. Those caring for airline passengers on the plan are properly called “flight attendants.”

  • Drinking the tap water:

    According to a study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the water supply on many flights, tested positive for a range of bacteria that could cause illness. That held true even though testing revealed no dangerous infectious microorganisms, such as E. coli, Legionella, and Enterococcus. But why start your vacation with a case of turista, especially when bottled water is readily available on the flight. Just ask for it when flight attendants offer in-flight beverages.

  • The Mile-High Club:

    If you think you can retain your dignity on your walk of shame from the lavatory after doing the deed, think again. Flight attendants always know when you’re plotting to join the Mile-High Club. Or when you’ve become a member. The same holds true for doing “beach blanket bingo” at your seat.

  • Using the restroom barefoot:

    Talk about disgusting. The only thing worse than passengers who remove their shoes and socks at their seat are those who use the restroom in their bare feet, thereby exposing them to anything that may be have missed the toilet or the sink and now lurks menacingly somewhere on the floor.

  • In-seat grooming:

    So you want to look your best when you arrive. Then, at the very least, use the lavatory to clip your nails. Don’t do it in your seat. Seatmates don’t want to see your fingernail and toenail clippings on the floor. And rest assured: flight attendants certainly do not look forward to to cleaning them up.

  • Lack of personal hygiene:

    Back in the day, long before frequent flyer programs and metal detectors, flying was glamorous. Today it has become a tedious inconvenience in many ways. Contemporary aviation evolved into something little more than an airborne bus ride inside a tube full of people. So is it too much to ask that you take a shower and use some deodorant before you head for the airport and board your flight? Not only will those in your immediate vicinity on the airliner greatly appreciate this. The flight attendants who have to interact with you will appreciate this as well.

  • Standing when the seatbelt light is on:

    The seatbelt light flashes above your seat for a reason. If the flight attendants are seated, you should definitely be sitting, The corollary to this rule of safety and courtesy is the prohibition on racing to the overhead bin before the plane comes to a stop and the arrival bell rings. Just stay cool. You will deplane just as quickly if you wait until you see and hear the “all-clear.”

  • Using the call button too often:

    Hitting the call button too frequently never endears you to your flight attendants. In fact, it’s just downright rude. There are 150 to 200 other people on your flight. They all want personal service as well. Patience is still a virtue.

  • Putting food directly on seat-back trays:

    Here’s another yicky-icky aspect of modern day air travel. How can you know what previous passengers may have done at your seat on earlier flights? Changed diapers, clipped fingernails, spilled food or any number of other unsanitary tasks may leave unpleasant residue somewhere on those trays. The best thing to do in this situation is to find some type of barrier to place between your food and the tray.

  • Entitled passengers:

    Some individuals always think they’re so special that normal rules don’t apply to them. Regardless of how much you spent for your ticket, you never have the right to boss around your flight attendants. They fly with you in the cabin mainly for safety and passenger assistance. And perform their work according to strict company and government rules and regulations. Not the overinflated egos of “entitled” passengers.

As COVID-19 becomes an ugly memory, we all hope the world soon returns to business as usual. Most of us have had more than a month to reinvent our traveling skills. With just a little effort, perhaps we could bring some of the early glamour back to flying. Not to mention the kind of courtesy and thoughtfulness that many of us may have left behind in recent years.

— Headline image:  Flight attendants for Germanwings performing in-flight service duties. Photo by Oxfordian Kissuth, via Wikipedia entry on Flight Attendants. CC 3.0 license.

About the Author:

Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

Read more of Travels with Peabod and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his travels around the world

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.