Flight attendants have come a long way, baby. Their job is to keep passengers safe – gone are the days when it was P.C. to treat them as waitresses (or waiters) in the sky who are there to look pretty and cater to your every whim. With that in mind, here are a few things you should never say to flight attendant.
1. “They let me do it on the last flight.”
While you may have somehow gotten away with bending the rules on some previous flight, don’t expect delivering such a whiney line to work in the future. It’s like a kid trying to pit mom against dad. “It’s like think we are naïve,” says veteran flight attendant Emily Witkop. Even if Federal Aviation regulations seem silly to you, it’s a flight attendant’s job to enforce them and keep everyone safe.
2. “Want to join the mile high club?”
If it’s not obvious why you shouldn’t say this, we probably can’t help you. Needless to say, this kind of misguided pickup line objectifies FAs, plus, engaging in that kind of behavior is not cool from a professional standpoint, and sex in the airplane bathroom is dangerous and against regulations. Get caught doing it with anyone, and you’ll be written up and escorted off the plane by security (or worse) upon landing.
"I can’t tell you how many people have told me to smile more when I’m going through the safety demonstration," says flight attendant Nicole Teshara. "It’s so rude because they have no idea the kind of day I’m having, and this is something serious they should be paying attention to." While flight attendants do their best to be friendly and helpful, their real job is to keep you safe, so being told look happier is belittling and dismissive of their responsibilities.
4. “I need to use the restroom before we take off.”
More often than not you have some control over your bladder. Using the onboard bathroom before take off is not allowed due to regulations and can cause delays. “It drives me crazy when the seatbelt sign is on, and I’ve made an announcement to stay seated and someone asks to use the bathroom,” says Teshara. “Clearly it’s not a good time to get up and we’re not allowed to take off until everyone is seated. Plus, you have all that time in the terminal. Why didn’t you use the bathroom before getting on the plane?” That should at least hold you over until the seatbelt signed is turned off in-flight.
5. “I can make it fit.”
Flight attendants have a very keen eye when it comes to the bulk of your baggage. Continuing to force your luggage into an overhead bin in effort to avoid having it gate checked will only upset the crew. “Saying ‘it fits’ despite all evidence to the contrary is a direct challenge to us,” says Witkop. “We know better than anyone what will or will not fit, but people still refuse to comply.” Not to mention, your pushing and adjusting could hold up the line and cause delays.
6. “Can you watch my baby?”
A flight attendant is not a standby babysitter or nanny. “It drives me crazy when people ask me to deal with their kids,” says Teshara. “I have an entire plane filled with people to take care of, so it’s annoying when someone thinks I’m their personal attendant. It’s also not in my job description.” It’s up to you to quiet your crying child.
7. “Is that your natural hair color?”
Why is this any of your business? Though flight attendants are trained to come across as open and friendly, that’s no excuse to ask personal questions – doing so is off-limits. “It makes me feel really perplexed when people make such inappropriate comments,” says Witkop. “You might as well go ahead and ask how much I weigh.”
8. “Can I give you this dirty diaper?”
Remember how we said they’re not babysitters or nannies? Flight attendants are trained to handle all sorts of strange and sometimes-dangerous objects found on a plane like needles in an emergency, but that’s no excuse to ask them to deal with your tot’s nasty nappy. “There should be no excuse for you not to throw it away yourself. It’s rude to think we should handle your personal garbage,” says Teshara. “We walk through the cabin every 15 or 20 minutes with a trash bag. Properly dispose of it then.”
9. “I have Ebola.”
Or “I have a bomb,” or anything having to do with terrorism or crashes. You may be making a bad joke (because, really, what’s funny about Ebola?), but flight attendants have to take any mention of these things very seriously. Your thoughtless comments could potentially get you thrown off the flight and cause delays and cancellations.
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