We all try to be good passengers, but—be honest—haven’t we also been a bad one at some point? Whether we decided we needed to use the bathroom during heavy turbulence or revealed our smelly feet by slipping out of our sneakers, none of us is perfect. Flight attendants are the kind folks who grin and bare the brunt of our airborne quirks and, as it turns out, some passenger sins are worse than others. We found a longtime industry insider to reveal the things we do that tick off flight crews the most.
1. “Here’s my bag. Can you go ahead and put it in the overhead bin? Great, thanks.”
There’s a common mantra among flight attendants: “If you can’t sling it, don’t bring it.” They’re there to assist passengers with luggage, not do the work for them. Our flight attendant says he’s been asked to stow bags stuffed with everything from dishes, rocks and even baked goods. Most airline stewards are not cross fit athletes with superhero strength, so if you’re able bodied you should stow your luggage yourself.
2. “The seatbelt sign is more of a guideline, right?”
Although the pilot switches on the seatbelt sign only to ensure our safety, we’ve all been on a flight where that one person decides to get up and go to the jump seat to ask the flight attendant if they can use the bathroom just as the captain is making the announcement for flight attendants to take their seats. Passengers have sustained serious injuries for ignoring the seatbelt sign, including broken bones and worse, according to our source. Not only do they risk their own life when ignoring the seatbelt sign, but they’re putting their fellow passengers and the flight crew at risk.
3. “Take good care of Mom/Dad/Junior, bye!”
Before you pack up your brood and send them on a cross-country flight from Seattle to Sarasota, first ask yourself whether or not you’ve properly prepared these youngsters or oldsters for the journey. Our source cites numerous instances in which children board long flights without any food or snacks packed for them in advance. Flight attendants are not nurses, says our source, and are not supposed to assist passengers with their functions inside the airplane lavatory, and yet they’re often asked to do so. Travelers with substantial mental or physical disabilities should always be accompanied by a friend, relative or caregiver.
4. “FAA rules schmules.”
Feel like pleading with your flight crew about guidelines created by the Federal Aviation Administration? Think again. According to our source, the FAA setsthe rules for the inflight experience—including seatbelt, carry-on items and exit row guidelines—and passengers frequently ignore or try to renegotiate them. Our source cites instances in which passengers have insisted on putting their feet on top of their suitcase in the row they’re sitting in because it won’t fit in the overhead bin. But guess what? If the FAA happens to be onboard or in the jet bridge doing an audit, it’s the flight crew that gets fined for not doing their job.
5. “Turn down what? I can’t hear you over this car chase scene.”
This isn’t just a flight attendant pet peeve, it’s ours as well. We love that you enjoyed The Expendables 3 and Transformers: Age of Extinction, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us did. Many airlines don’t provide headphones for passengers and our source argues that in this day and age it’s the passenger’s job to know better and arrive prepared. Not only can the noise caused by iPads, iPhones and laptops be disruptive to passengers, but flight crews are responsible for listening to and detecting abnormal sounds or movements of the aircraft and you better believe that sound effects from movies, TV shows and games can mimic issues from the airplane.
6. “Pedicure time!”
Why do people think an airplane is an appropriate place to paint their fingernails or toenails, our source wonders. We certainly can agree that finger and toenail polish has an odor that can quickly foul up an enclosed space like an aircraft and we’re gagging at the sight of someone painting their toes aboard a 747. Our source recalls a lady spilling her finger nail polish in her purse because she was trying to hide the fact that she was still painting her nails even after the crew had asked her to put the polish away. He also cites instances of folks clipping their fingernails on the tray table. That’s just gross.
7. “Fluffy needs to stretch her legs for a minute.”
A word to pet parents: Your beloved Fluffy is to remain within her carrier at all times during the flight. Our steward recalls an instance in which a woman asked if she could put down a piddle pad on the floor in the galley so her dog could use the restroom. (The answer was no.) Flight crews serve food and beverages out of the galley so it is verboten to turn the area where flight attendants prepare edibles into a canine crapper.
8. “How convenient…this seat-back comes with a changing table.”
Yes, babies are allowed to travel too. But our source says that changing a diaper on a tray table is a big fat no-no. People eat off that thing! He recalls incidents in which dirty diapers were placed in the seat-back pockets and left behind for the flight crew to clean up. “There really is no limit as to what some passengers try to get away with on the aircraft,” he says. “After flying for more than eight years, nothing surprises me.”