There was a time, not so very long ago, when flying was a genteel endeavor; where people dressed up and dined on board, and flight attendants were more like skyborne hosts than mid-air police. Those days are gone. Today’s low-fare, hidden-fee air travel has turned once-courteous passengers into a short-fused mob determined to take out their frustrations on the hard-working men and women who just want to serve them a refreshing half-can of cola.
But what exactly are passengers doing — whether unwittingly or on purpose — to drive flight attendants crazy? We went right to the source and asked them, and boy did we get an earful. Here are the 18 most egregious ways you probably don’t even realize you’re infuriating the one group on board tasked with getting you safely down the emergency slide.
1. Not specifying how you take your coffee/drink and then getting angry when it’s made incorrectly
Your psychic barista at the neighborhood Starbucks has clearly ruined it for everyone. Unless you’re willing to put down SkyMall for a sec to explain two sugars, no ice, the whole can, then please settle the eff down if your order isn’t spot on.
2. Demanding water immediately upon boarding
Interestingly, they’ve got these places in airports now where they sell water in convenient plastic containers. Even crazier are the fountains (some might say, bubblers) located next to the bathrooms that also dispense fresh H20. Perhaps you should ask every other passenger on the plane, because they all seem to know about them.
3. Ringing the flight attendant call button multiple times
Flight attendants actually refer to this as the “you’d better be dying” button. So, unless that Diet Coke you’re about to ask for is going to stave off imminent death, you’ve effectively told the rest of the plane you’re a high-maintenance douche.
4. Not knowing where your seat is in the row
There’s a foolproof way of figuring this out: it’s called THE SIGN ON TOP OF THE ROW THAT SAYS WHERE YOUR SEAT IS. You might have noticed it while trying to wedge your 65lb rollaway into the overhead bin.
5. Taking off your shoes, then clipping your nails
Seriously, this happens more than you think. People are animals. While you may be surprised to learn that your feet don’t actually smell like Acqua di Gio, you shouldn’t in any way be shocked that exactly nobody wants to watch you clip your toenails.
6. Touching them or tugging on their aprons
Acting like a five-year-old doesn’t mean you’re getting a pair of souvenir plastic wings and a tour of the cockpit.
7. Leaving your headphones on while giving your drink order
It’s great that remixed Bonnie Tyler gets you super-pumped for that Sacramento to Boise flight, but keeping those Beats glued to your head and screaming “I’ll take the whole can” is generally infuriating to everybody around you.
8. Doing exercises in the aisles or the galley
Wait, have you heard of that new fitness revolution sweeping the nation where you do yoga in the one space flight attendants have to do their jobs? Yeah, we haven’t either.
9. Handing them a dirty diaper, used Kleenex, or Sprite can full of urine (again, true story)
Sure, it’s part of a flight attendants job to walk down the aisle and collect empty cups and pretzel wrappers, but no where does it say they’re the airplane’s resident sanitation workers. Perhaps you put the can of pee back in your carry-on and dispose of it when you land, cool?
10. Scoring a free first class upgrade, then complaining about… anything
Seriously, you’re pretty much playing with house money at that point. How about you just sit back and enjoy the warm towelette.
11. Abusing the service animal policy
Blind people need dogs on planes. Women who get notes from their doctor to say they suffer from depression and need to stuff their Pomeranian in an oversized Louis Vuitton bag so it can keep them happy by yapping all the way from LA to Miami? They should be forced to ride Greyhound.
12. Starting a sentence with “On my last flight…”
That’s cool, you’ve flown before and somehow things were markedly better on that previous flight. It happens — no two flights are ever the same. When your wife gets up to use the bathroom, does the flight attendant kindly ask her to begin her next conversation with you by saying “You know my ex-boyfriend used to…”? No. Let it go.
13. Talking loudly during the safety demo
Thank you kind sir for keeping the entire section posted on the latest trends in Las Vegas real estate — something that’s clearly more relevant to the entire plane than, say, HOW THE HELL TO GET OUT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG.
14. Asking what city the plane is flying over
The one in the middle of all the brown stuff with the rivers going into it and the houses. So, yeah, Baghdad…. How exactly do you take your coffee, again?
15. Saying “I’m totally laid back”
Much like telling someone you’re a “hip, cool” person, this usually means the exact opposite. If you inform the flight attendant of your totally chill demeanor, you’re basically acknowledging publicly that you’re going to be the most difficult passenger ever. And you will probably conclude the flight by demanding a refund because there was nothing worth watching on DirecTV.
16. Sitting in the last row and asking why your seat doesn’t recline
Because physics. That’s why.
17. Getting angry when there is no meal. In coach.
Remember back in the ’90s when you and Jerry Seinfeld used to make those HILARIOUS jokes about how bad airline food was? Careful what you wish for. Also, believe it or not, the flight attendants do not make the larger business decisions for multi-billion dollar airlines.
18. Asking why the plane is delayed
No, there’s no grand conspiracy that flight attendants have with the pilots, the airport, the FAA, Congress, Vladimir Putin, and the New York Times to keep every passenger completely in the dark about why the flight is still sitting at the gate. When they know, you know — just listen patiently for an announcement. Is that so hard?