‘I’m a Flight Attendant, and These Are the 4 Annoying Things I Wish Passengers Would Stop Doing’

Photo: Stocksy/Sean Locke
The very setup of an airplane makes it easy to get annoyed by fellow passengers, even when their offenses are small and clearly not malicious, like reclining their chair in front of you or asking you to stand multiple times so they can use the restroom. After all, you are trapped on the plane together, so there’s no escaping whatever behavior is bugging you (at least, without an uncomfortable confrontation) until you reach your destination. It’s no wonder, then, that flight attendants—who find themselves in the position of being stuck for hours with not-so-considerate folks on the daily—have their fair share of things that annoy them when it comes to passenger behavior.

Some of these flight attendant annoyances overlap with behaviors that are annoying to other passengers, too, according to Monaë, who’s been a flight attendant at a major airline for six years. Unsurprisingly, these include passengers listening to music without headphones or being obnoxious and drunk. In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by travel site The Vacationer found that a person being drunk and disruptive was tied as the most annoying behavior on a plane with someone in the row behind you kicking your seat.

Though flight attendants can evade seat-kickers, they’re certainly required to deal with disruptive folks on the regular. And given their major responsibilities onboard—namely, attending to the safety and comfort of all the passengers—they’re often faced with much worse in terms of passenger actions. To be sure you’re not making their job tougher than it already is, read on for Monaë's list of common things that annoy flight attendants, and why each is so bothersome.

4 things that are annoying to do on an airplane, according to a flight attendant

1. Blaming flight attendants for the flight being delayed

While flight delays can be the result of many different things—like bad weather, equipment issues, and delays of previous flights—nowhere on the list of reasons is flight attendants. And they have no ability to solve the delay, either, says Monaë. “We can’t hold the next plane, we can’t rebook you, and the captain is the only one who knows exactly when we will be arriving,” she says.

“We can’t hold the next plane, we can’t rebook you, and the captain is the only one who knows exactly when we will be arriving.” —Monaë, flight attendant

Additionally, flight attendants likely do not have any more information than you do when a delay is in progress. “We’re typically updated when the passengers are updated, so we aren’t even able to offer more insight on the issue,” says Monaë. Not to mention, directing your frustration toward flight attendants is totally misguided, given they're 100 percent on your team. “We are either going to a layover or trying to get home after being away for days, so you should know that we want to be on time just as much as you do,” she says.

2. Ignoring flight attendants when they greet you during boarding

Like anyone else who provides a service to you, a flight attendant is a person with feelings. And according to Monaë, ignoring a flight attendant when they greet you is basically diminishing that reality. Not to mention, you’re going to be spending at least an hour in the presence of a flight attendant—and oftentimes, much longer—so why start off that journey on the wrong foot?

3. Handing a flight attendant trash during boarding

Flight attendants have a ton of tasks to accomplish during the boarding process, and taking your trash redirects their attention from the matters that have to get done in order for the plane to take off on time. “Being that boarding is a timed process, it is a very hectic part of the flight,” says Monaë.

In addition to greeting passengers, assisting them with locating their seats, and helping them find overhead-bin space, Monaë says flight attendants are also required to provide a beverage service for first-class passengers, make mandatory announcements, ensure all provisioning is accounted for, and coordinate with the captain and tower to ensure anything that may be missing is transported to the plane before boarding ends. Amid all of this, “it becomes annoying for passengers to hand us trash because depending on the plane, a trash can is not always readily accessible,” she says. (And since trash cans are always available in airport gates, why not just toss the item there before boarding?)

It’s also just not sanitary to hand a flight attendant a piece of trash as they’re shepherding passengers through the boarding process because they typically would not have gloves on during this portion of the flight, Monaë adds, as they do when they’re collecting trash during in-flight service.

4. Demanding to be let off the plane first because of a connection

For the most part, your seat and connection length are your choices (excusing flight delays), and as a result, should not become the burden of others during deplaning. While in certain situations in the past, flight attendants may have asked people without connections to stay seated while others were allowed to exit the plane first, “it is now not a policy to make such announcements,” says Monaë.

This is largely to ensure that everyone onboard is treated fairly. “I’ve personally dealt with situations where passengers were upset and yelling because of being asked to remain seated while connecting passengers deplaned first,” says Monaë. As a result, deplaning in order—and not requesting otherwise from a flight attendant—is the best way to prioritize everyone’s safety, she says.

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