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Secrets of a flight attendant: the 10 most annoying things passengers do on flights

An ex-hostie reveals what makes cabin crew roll their eyes when you’re not looking. Here's what not to do when you hop on a flight to your summer holiday destination.

Photo: Getty Images
1. Abusing the passenger call button
By all means press it if you need to – but don’t treat it like a novelty servant bell. Imagine working a 10-hour shift of non-stop requests accompanied by the noise “Ding. Ding. Ding” constantly ringing in your ears. If you’ve just had drink, food and a movie, and you don’t need emergency medical treatment, give the bell a break.
2. Trying to sneak into business class
You might slip through the curtain, sink into the back row and think you’ve got away with it. But trust me, you haven’t. The crew have a passenger list that tells them exactly who is sitting where. If you get an upgrade, that’s fine, but otherwise don’t take what you haven’t paid for. And beware the walk of shame as you’re marched back to your rightful seat.
3. Making last-minute special requests
Once you’re on the plane, it’s too late to inform the cabin crew that you need a low-sugar, gluten and dairy-free, Kosher vegan meal. Make that request when you book. Ditto special medications (the ones in the first aid kit are for emergencies) and extra bathroom products (apart from the toothbrush in your complimentary wash bag).
4. Patting/pinching the hostie’s bottom
It’s kind of funny as depicted in those 1960’s cartoon postcards. It may be your little private fantasy. But it’s not ok. It’s patronising and it makes us feel uncomfortable. Not flattering or sexy. And while we’re at it, slipping your business card into our pockets isn’t going to work either. Put your wedding ring back on.
5. Clicking fingers to get service
Yes, it’s a service industry but you are not a member of the Saudi royal family and hosties aren’t your slaves. You may have a gin and tonic with ice and lemon but please use manners and ask respectfully, otherwise you might have some tomato juice “accidentally” drop onto your shirt. We don’t respond to whistles either.
6. Handing us a bag of vomit/dirty nappy
Try the bin in the bathroom instead, unless you’re really incapacitated. Ask yourself: would you do this in a restaurant, movie theatre, train or shopping centre? It’s worth remembering your crew are food handlers – do you really want to risk cross-contamination?
7. Watching crew eat in the galley
You are not at the zoo. Flight attendants get very little break time and everyone needs to eat. If the curtains are drawn, allow them a few minutes to refuel. Yes, our crew meals may look slightly different from yours but trust me, they’re no more interesting or better than what you’ve just eaten.
8. Stacking up items on the food tray
You may think you’re being helpful or even entertaining by stacking the plastic containers on top of one another when you’ve finished your meal – but you’re not. The tray will not fit back into the trolley until your hostie has unbuilt your little castle. Just leave it.
9. Refusing to abide by safety regulations
Maybe you’re cranky, sleep-deprived or just don’t like being told what to do – but the primary reason your flight attendants are on the plane is to ensure your safety. Telling you to put your seatbelt on, seatback upright, armrest down and bags underneath the seat in front of you isn’t us on a power trip – it’s for your own good. Just do it.
10. Joining the mile high club
It may sound exciting at first but getting intimate in a cupboard-sized toilet that’s likely crawling with germs from the other 50 people who have emptied their bladders or bowels in there before you isn’t easy or especially considerate to others. Dirty, yes. Sexy, not really.

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