June 23, 2009

How to annoy a flight attendant

None of us are new to the fact that flight attendants do get annoyed; and it seems that today they get annoyed from more things than they did a decade ago - everything annoys them, even if it's something we paid for (luggage compartment, a free glass of juice and use of an on-board bathroom...)

But apparently there are certain things that one can do without his/her knowledge that annoys the heck out of a flight attendant. The Budget Travel, one of my favorite travel publication, aksed an anonymous flight attendant who has worked for a well-known commercial airline for 12 years. She shared what irritates her most in passenger behavior. And I added a few from my own observations (that is - being on the annoying side of a flight...)
Nine Ways to Annoy a Flight Attendant

1. Bring your pet on the plane and then act like an animal.
Over the years, I've seen a pet on a passenger's lap, a pet tucked into a seatback pocket, and a pet loose in the aisle (I nearly hit one with my beverage cart). All of this is against federal regulations. People tell me how well-behaved their pet is, but they can't follow the rules themselves! Your pet must stay in its carrier while you're on the plane. Yes, even if you've paid a "pet-in-cabin" fee.

Recently I flew the US Airways with my pet, a pug puppy. I did have a pet ticket, which is $100 one way, and I did acquire a special pet travel carry-on bag to apply to the aircraft on-board regulations. But when I entered the overbooked flight, the flight attendant rather loudly announced that there is no space for my luggage and took my carry-on suitcase away telling me that I will get it back at my final destination. I trusted her, only later having found my bag lost, waiting for and hoping that I'd get it back the next day...I did.

This same flight attendant made me tuckle the bag with my puppy under the front seat way far, and checked a few times to see if I have moved a bag a bit forward so that my puppy would have gotten a bit more air to breath. And even though I didn't take him out all through a 5-hour flight, I did worry about his being. Instead of making my flight a bit more pleasant, this flight attendant was annoyed from the beginning, and the puppy was not even to be seen throughout the flight. Go figure what actually annoys a certain flight attendant.

2. Shove your bag into the first bin you see and then walk to your seat in the back of the plane.
You think you're clever, I know. You expect to grab your bag on your way out of the plane, but you're selfishly inconveniencing others. I can't lie and say we flight attendants don't take some small satisfaction when we tell you, "We couldn't identify the bag's owner, so we sent it to cargo." It's a security issue, for real. Carry-ons need to stay near their owners! So don't look so shocked when we say, "The signs will direct you to baggage claim. You can pick up your bag there."

Read my comment above on what has happened to my bag when NO, as nada, space was found for my carry-on because the airlines overbooked the flight (greed has never served good to anyone...) Sometimes we do put a bag in the only available space that there is in the cabin, and sometimes it's not above our head. And it does annoy us, the passengers, too when some smarty pants took our space in the front, but that does not justify the flight attendant's personal vengenous desire to make some passenger's life even harder. You never know what this person has been through before the flight, so don't be an $%* to them.
3. Think that because you're on an airplane you're off-duty as a parent.
Stop expecting us to have spare diapers, formula, medicine, toys, playing cards, or batteries for DVD players or Game Boys. It's an airplane, not a 7-11. Take your kid to the restroom before you board. Leave the dry cereal and Legos at home and bring snacks and toys for your kids that won't make a horrible mess.

Can we also ask the flight attendants to announce to all those parents out there that an airplane is not the place to teach their kids a discipline. No one wants to sit through a flight listening to some kid crying and a parent sitting next to him/her reading a magazine. Silence the kid, nicely, but do silence the baby. We all will do the same. It's a courtesy to the others.

Secondly, please ask your kids not to push and kick the seats in front of you; these seats and the space between them and the next ones are already inconvenient, so don't make the experience even worse by having your kid kicking and screaming.
4. Drag on an oversize bag that's too heavy for you to lift by yourself.
I won't be compensated for any injuries I might sustain if I heft your bag into the overhead compartment for you. (And other passengers shouldn't have to step up and take the risk either.) The guideline is simple: You pack it, you stack it. Try this at home as a test (and this is to you ladies, especially): After you've packed your bag, put on the shoes you plan to wear on the plane and see if you can lift your bag and place it on top of your refrigerator. You can't? Pay the fee and check the bag.

That's true. That's true. But you, on the other hand, please stop being greedy and cheap. If we didn't have to pay those check-in fees for every single luggage except for a small carry-on, then we wouldn't have been over-stacking our carry-ons. Paying $50 more for a flight for two checked in bags is not OK!
5. Gripe that you haven't been seated in a roomy exit-row seat.
The exit rows weren't created as a reward for people who are tall, overweight, or just plain nice. They were designed to help passengers get out of the plane in an emergency. The people seated in an exit row must be able to see and speak clearly, open the emergency door, and help others. I prefer to see uniformed military, firefighters, law-enforcement officers, or off-duty pilots and flight attendants sitting in those seats. While the gate agent may assign exit-row seats first, the flight attendant makes the final determination about who gets to sit in them. And the quality of our choices is one of the frequent concerns of Federal Aviation Administration officials when they audit airlines for safety practices. So please don't complain. I'm just doing my job.
6. Act like you don't know the meaning of the words "under the seat in front of you."
Someday I will be muttering "under the seat in front of you" in the old-age home for flight attendants. What is it that you don't understand? To be clear, items should not be stowed behind your calves, under your feet like a footstool, in the open seat next to you, or in your lap. It's under the seat in front of you. And it applies to everything you carry on board. Items stored carelessly can trip others, or dislodge during takeoff and get lost, or inconvenience others. And while I'm on the topic: Please don't wrap your purse (or umbrella strap) around your ankle to keep from forgetting it. What will happen in an emergency, when every second counts and there's no time to disentangle yourself from your precious bag? Will you drag it ball-and-chain-style down the aisle of a burning plane?
7. Whine about the high price of flying.
When I hear people complain about coach airfares, I know they're not keeping up with the news. Fares have rarely been cheaper. In recent years, it's not uncommon for you to be able to cross the continent for under $130 each way, with a maximum of one layover. It's a bargain! At that price, you're barely paying for the fuel to get your body there—never mind the cost of shipping your 50 pounds of gear. You're already on the gravy plane. People point to first class ticket holders and want to know why they don't get the same treatment. Wake up folks: You're getting a great deal. If you want even more, pay more!

Point taken, but we'll continue complaining about it because this is not only what humans do - we like to complain about everything - but also because we complain about the overall flying experience, which includes: in-flight service, in-flight food, cleaniness of a bathroom and the surroundings (including a pocket with the flight magazines in front of you), and attitude of the flight attendants - as one of the most important ones! Yes, we are willing to pay high prices (even though I don't know where that $130-fare came from, a century ago?), but we are not willing to pay high prices for a flight attendant with personal issues he or she is bringing on board with them. I don't need the shity attitude. I don't need to be rude too if I wanted juice AND water (there is nowhere to be said that I'm only entitled to a glass of water during a 3-hour flight, ok?)

8. Asking for more than just "one cup of tea."
This last point brought me to talking about this point. What happened to nice and friendly staff of flight attendants. I'm a nice person myself. I am never rude to anyone who is not rude to me. I always say Thank you and Please. So, if I just spent 1.5-2 hours getting to and being at the airport, and then taking off to spend a few hours in the air, I deserve at least to be able to have a choice of two free drinks (juice, water, coffee, or tea). But lately, I've been experiencing a very annoyed flight attendant who would either make comments about my choice of two drinks per flight or give me a look. This is not OK!

9. Expecting flight attendants to be courteous of our belongings.
It's a common knowledge that people usually don't care about others' belongings, and that's expecially obvious with the flight attendants. They can easily take away your luggage, and make it get lost. And we, the travelers who pay anything from $350/one-way to $760/round-trip in USA, would really like to see friendly people in our flight attendants. We are not asking for more than that, so be at least nice and civil to us, the passengers with very different life stories.

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