Tips & Advice

Flight Attendants Share 14 Secrets About Flying That You May Not Know

Responsible for the care and safety of all passengers onboard, flight attendants do more than ask, “Would you like peanuts, pretzels or cookies?”

Having just recently taken a family trip overseas, I was intrigued by how busy they were throughout the entire eight-hour flight. And each of them was extremely polite and friendly. Something I’m not sure I could do for eight hours straight in a metal tube speeding through the air.

When I landed, I decided to look up all the things flight attendants are responsible for doing—and what secrets they have about their job. On a Quora forum, some of these secrets were spilled:

1. Crew members are only paid for in-flight hours

The post states, “Sometimes some of us end up with crappy trips where it is 5 flights all about an hour long each. So while we are boarding, deplaning, etc all of that is unpaid since that aircraft door is technically open.”

airline attendant photo
Photo by yfinancecanada

2. Airlines may reuse pillows and blankets

You can chalk it up to budget cuts, or “going green,” but this gives me the willies. According to Tony Busko, “The blankets and pillows get reused over and over again. They just fold em up and put them away for the next flight. So, be sure to ask for a fresh blanket, one that has been sealed in a bag. That way you know its fresh/clean.”

plane blanket photo
Photo by Tom Mascardo

3. The crew hates delays just as much as the passengers

This adds up to a lot of unpaid hours, and cuts into their personal time to get to a hotel, eat, rest and get ready for their next flight. It’s not “break time” for them.

4. The lavatories are gross

While Boeing claims to have a bathroom that cleans itself with ultraviolet light, airline employees avoid using the plane’s lavatory unless absolutely necessary.

plane bathroom photo
Photo by Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup good news

5. They will tell you if the plane is expected to crash

Wait, what? According to the post, “The captain will give you the same information that we know if there is time, and then we will begin emergency landing procedures. My job is to make sure we all get out alive, so of course I would want you to be as prepared as possible.”

6. The crew gets better meals than you

Fatihah Sudewo claims that crew meals are better than a passenger’s. Often, a whole trolley (cart) is dedicated just to crew meals. They may get perks like fresh, whole fruit, pickles, desserts, bread rolls and beverages.

plane bathroom photo
Photo by GinkgoTelegraph

7. Purchase Wi-Fi before you board for a better deal

I noticed this on my recent work trip. On my outbound flight, I purchased an “All Day gogo Pass” for $16.00. On my return flight, I forgot to pre-purchase the Wi-Fi. Once on board, the cost was $21.95 for only the duration of the flight. Lesson learned.

delta wifi photo
Photo by arvindgrover

8. The crew knows more about you than you think

Frequent flier, Avik Chopra, states that planes are equipped with a machine (most likely a dot-matrix printer) that lists each passenger, their seat assignment, tier status, special requests, connecting flights, etc.

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9. It’s not that easy to get someone kicked off a plane

The forum states that there is a, “chain of command that we follow before we remove someone from a flight. This usually involves about 10+ people (and from different departments) who all agree said passenger should not be on the flight, a lot of paperwork and a possible delay (without pay).”

10. They have no control over the number of meals stocked on the plane

The carts get stocked and loaded onto the plane by someone else. So unfortunately, if you’re in the back of the bus and hoping to purchase a meal, sometimes they run out before they get to you. If this happens, file a complaint on the airline’s website. This helps them better accommodate their passengers’ needs in the future. And you may just get a free meal voucher for your next flight.

plane bathroom photo
Photo by avlxyz

11. There’s a reason the coffee tastes so bad

It’s the pot. This reddit thread suggests that few people clean the pots used to brew coffee for the flight. A quick rinse and refill is all they get.

delta coffee photo
Photo by faungg’s photos

12. Airports have standby flight attendants

If your flight is delayed because they are missing a flight attendant, the one you see rushing onto the plane is most likely not the one that caused the delay. So don’t give him or her the stink eye as they serve you your cocktail.

13. If your TV doesn’t work, they may be able to reset it

This recently happened to me on a flight from JFK to LAX. The sound wasn’t working on my personal TV. I asked a flight attendant if there was anything she could do. She promptly reset my individual console and voila! It worked.

delta tv on plane photo
Photo by James Willamor

14. If your pet must fly in the luggage compartment, write their name on their crate

This reddit user states that the baggage handlers will do their best to comfort a stressed animal, knowing their name can help calm them down.

Photo by BillDamon