All signs indicate Americans are ready to get back into their regular vacation routines this summer, and airlines are doing what they can to lure customers back into the air. Airline staff, pilots, and flight attendants traveled a difficult road over the past 15 months, from figuring out how to operate with limited answers during the early days of the pandemic, to dealing with anti-maskers, to trying to stay safe themselves.
So before you follow up your next boarding with a demand demand for a blanket and a set of headphones before take off, take some time to consider the staff who are keeping you safe (in more ways than one). Here are some ways to show appreciation for flight attendants, with the added consequence doing so will likely mean you’ll have a much more enjoyable flight too.
Flight attendants spend anywhere from 75 to 100 hours in the air every month, and many additional hours spent paperwork and preparing for flights. What’s more, part-time flight attendants are not paid until the flight takes off; their job begins with a smile and a welcome before they are even on the clock. Yes, they’ve signed up for this, but no one likes being stuffed onto a plane, so the least we can all do is be cordial customers.
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that getting on a flight attendant’s good side begins with returning their warm welcomes with eye contact, a smile, and a hello. Flight attendant Kara Mulder told Reader’s Digest most people ignore the flight attendant’s greetings in an attempt to rush to their seats; taking the time to say acknowledge your flight crew will go a long way. Mulder says using good manners—even attempting to have a genuine conversation—will not only make an attendant’s one flight out of many a bit brighter, it could score you a complimentary glass of wine after takeoff.
How to stay in a flight attendant’s good graces
Flight attendants are in the business of customer service, even on their second or third flight of the day. Don’t be the person that makes their 50th flight of the month the worst.
Respect all passengers
Being respectful to flight attendants will get you in their good graces, but being kind to your fellow passengers is also key. Don’t push past other passengers getting on and off the plane. Recline your seat slowly and with careful attention for the people behind you. Keep your feet on the floor and keep your shoes on— putting your bare feet on the seat in front of you will definitely lose you brownie points from the staff.
Be prepared for beverage and snack service
Flight attendants have a lot of ground to cover when they are serving customers. Make sure you have looked at the snack menu and are ready to order when they come by. State your order clearly, and be specific so they don’t have to ask you three followup questions (and remove your headphones while you’re at it). Try not to order a large number of items, as inflight food is finite resource (you’re over 30,000 feet in the air, and chances are good someone isn’t going to get their favorite juice). Think about your fellow passengers (and the people who have to serve them when they’re disappointed) and don’t over order.
Clean up after yourself
Flight attendants work hard to make your flight as comfortable as possible, but they are not your own personal cleaning service. Hold onto your garbage until the attendants come by with garbage bags. There’s no need to get their attention or hand them garbage while they just walking by or are serving beverages—they’ll be back specifically to collect trash. If it’s bothering you that much, walk it to the back of the plane yourself. And when you leave, take your garbage with you.
Pandemic travel regulations are still in place, so wear your mask over your mouth and nose at all times. The CDC considers airplanes a higher-risk environment for the spread of COVID-19, and given they are directly exposed to hundreds of customers on every flight, flight attendants are more vulnerable than other members of the flight crew, so keep your mask on. Also, even if you’ve seen it before, pay attention to the emergency protocols demonstration; making sure you grasp this information is by far the attendant’s most important job, and crucial to everyone’s survival in the event of a true emergency.
Stay in your seat
The flight attendants can’t predict when turbulence will hit, so do they a favor and stay in your seat unless you are headed to the bathroom. Stay seated when the fasten seatbelt sign is on, and try not to run to the bathroom the second the sign turns off. Take it slow and be patient, and you’ll have a smoother ride.
Usually the flight attendants are giving you stuff, but they might appreciate getting a little something in return. Rumor has it they appreciate receiving your magazines after you finish them, or some prepackaged treats, or even your extra pens.