According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 42,000 flights depart around the world every day and they help 2.5 million passengers move across over 29 million square miles of airspace. With such a vast and complex air system, it's absolutely essential to ensure the safety of everyone on board. If the plane captain and second pilot are the people, whose responsibility is to safely fly the plane and land it at the destination, it's the task of flight attendants to make the flight itself as comfortable and safe as possible for each and every passenger on the aircraft.
The work of flight attendants is no picnic. They do more than simply passing water to you, bringing your meals, and demonstrating safety information. They have to be ready to meet the needs of all passengers, answer all questions and fulfill any (well, almost any) request. And while doing all these things, they have to follow a strict set of rules and regulations, in and out of the sky, which was also created for security reasons.
Let's see what 20 things flight attendants cannot do under any circumstances to make sure that everyone on board is safe and their airline company's reputation is maintained on a decent level. Be warned - some of these rules might surprise you!
20 Eat In Front Of Passengers
I know that right now you're thinking, "Right, I've never actually seen a flight attendant eating!" Well, you won't, no matter how often you fly, because flight attendants aren't allowed to eat in front of passengers.
Jeremy Thompson, a flight attendant, who worked for three different airlines, explained, "When I worked, we were always told to be discreet when eating and drinking. We couldn't be seen by passengers walking down the aisle eating food or drinking. However, we could hide in the galley out of passenger view to eat and drink."
It's unclear, why this rule exists, but we can guess that it has something to do with making sure that passengers feel that they have full attention.
19 Sleep At Work
Even passengers on an overnight flight should always be counting on flight attendants, in case they need any help. Whether they need water or medical assistance, flight attendants should constantly be there to provide it. For this reason, it's almost impossible to have some sleep during the flight.
Stefany DiManno Ceccato, a corporate flight attendant, says, "I don’t feel comfortable sleeping on the plane on overnight flights in case the passenger wakes up and needs service and also I like to check on the pilots to make sure they are awake and have what they need to promote a safe flight!"
There's logic in these words.
18 Let Passengers See Them Out Of Uniform
If you've been to an airport even once in your lifetime (and I'm sure you've been there way more often), you certainly saw a crew of flight attendants trailing their suitcases and all of them were wearing the uniform of their airline. Now you know why they weren't wearing some other clothes - it's because flight attendants aren't allowed to show up in front of passengers out of their uniform.
Sure, some flight attendants prefer changing to their uniform on a plane before the flight, and it's fine, provided they don't communicate with passengers before they do so. If they talk to them out of uniform, they'll definitely be frowned upon.
17 Be Disrespectful While Wearing Uniform
If a flight attendant somehow tarnishes their reputation while wearing the uniform, it's considered that they tarnish the reputation of the entire airline company they work for. And it isn't only about doing something wrong on a flight, but it's about all the instances when a flight attendant wears the uniform.
Susan McCord, a flight attendant for 25 years, says, "Whenever you’re wearing your uniform, you’re supposed to be very respectable. You’re not supposed to be in the bar or sit around in a hotel lobby with drinks if you’re in your uniform."
I guess it's partly due to this rule, why we always see flight attendants as perfect human beings with impeccable manners.
16 Promote Their Outside Interests
While on a flight (and while wearing their uniform), flight attendants are not allowed to promote any of their personal interests. According to a former flight attendant Steffanie Rivers, author of "Do’s and Don’ts of Flying: A Flight Attendant’s Guide to Airline Travel Secrets", "We’re not supposed to solicit customers for our own private interests."
It means that in case your flight attendant is offering you to buy their health products, essential oils, jewelry, clothes, whatever, or subscribe to their YouTube channel, keep in mind that you can file a complaint to the airline. This rule is very strict and no airline company will ever tolerate this behavior.
15 Take Any Tips
Most of us are used to giving tips for the services we liked. So if a flight attendant on board of the plane was very nice and respectful to you and you want to thank them with your tip, you should know that they probably won't accept it.
According to Susan McCord, "They don’t want you to take tips. Everything’s included in the airfare. They don’t want people to feel like they have to tip, because it’s our job."
If you think about it, there's a lot of logic in this rule. Why do people of our culture feel obliged to give tips for the services that have been paid for anyway?
14 Lift Your Bags
Some passengers think that helping them to stow their bags in overhead bins is one of the duties of flight attendants. If you think so too, here's a surprise for you! In fact, flight attendants aren't allowed to lift your bags, due to the risk of injury. No airline company will want to deal with a dislocation of their flight attendant's shoulder, so they simply made it a rule. The only thing a flight attendant can do for you is pushing the bag into the bin when it's already there and close the door.
You might want to ask, what you should do if you can't handle your hand luggage by yourself. Shawn Kathleen, a former flight attendant and founder of PassengerShaming.com, has a simple answer to this concern, "The rule is, if you can’t lift it into the overhead bin yourself, check it."
13 Bring Anything They Want On Board
Just like passengers, flight attendants have to follow certain rules about the things they can or cannot take on board the aircraft. There is no open-door policy for them and they also have to undergo a security check before entering the plane. Anything that doesn't go through security check must be left out and there are no exceptions to this rule.
It's an absolutely logical rule because safety on the plane is the most important thing for passengers, the crew and the airline. After all, who wants to deal with the problems caused by a flight attendant, who brought something unsafe on board?
12 Switch Seats For The Passengers
Sometimes passengers ask flight attendants to let them switch a seat because they noticed that the first class has free seats, because they want to sit next to their friend, or because they just don't like the seat they got. Whatever the reason, a flight attendant can't help you with it.
If you want an upgrade, you had to ask for it before boarding and pay extra for a seat in the first class. And when it comes to switching seats, it's also a big no-no. "A lot of people assume we can just get people to move. That’s not up to us. On the manifest for the plane, everything like your bag is attached to your seat number," says Susan McCord.
11 Give A Seat To A Passenger's Child
Yes, even when it comes to having a kid on a flight with you, you still won't get any seat from the flight attendant. Susan McCord comments, "People think that when they bring a child on under two, that they automatically get a seat for their child. They don’t."
Most airline companies allow children under the age of two to fly for free. You should know that it means that you're going to have to keep your kid on your lap during the flight. No one will give you an extra free seat on a plane, if you take a toddler with you, no matter how many times you ask.
10 Fly For Business Travel
Being a flight attendant, one gets a lot of free flights as a bonus. But it doesn't mean that they can use these flight for whatever reason they please. In fact, they can only use them for personal things, such as having a vacation. Using the accumulated flight hours for business travel, for example, to get to a conference or travel for another part-time job, is strictly prohibited by airline companies.
It's simple to understand why airlines don't want their employees to use their bonus flights for business travel. They're their employees, after all. If they want to get another job, they're free to do so, but they have to pay for their flights in this case.
9 Let Passengers Drink Duty-Free Beverages On Board
Yes, you're allowed to buy alcohol at duty-free shops at the airport and bring them on board with you. No, you're not allowed to open the bottle and drink this booze on board. Shawn Kathleen says, "Most airlines will make the flight attendant confiscate it if she sees it, and you’ll have to fill out a report, and it opens a whole can of worms."
You might be wondering why it is allowed to buy alcohol before the flight if it's prohibited to drink it. The explanation is simple. According to Susan McCord, if a passenger does open the bottle, "they can get super-drunk and we’re not taking care of them", which takes us to the next entry.
8 Serve The Passengers Who've Had Enough
Flight attendants need to be very attentive to their passengers and, as soon as they see that it's enough alcohol for one of them, they have to stop serving them. And it doesn't matter whether it's a business or economy class passenger. If one is already drunk, the flight attendant won't pour anything else in their glass.
"If you can tell that they’re getting [drunk], you can cut them off at any time," comments McCord. "They put a lot of responsibility on us not to overserve."
I guess we all should thank airline companies for having this rule because it saves us from intoxicated passengers ruining our pleasure from the trip.
7 Have A Drink With Passengers
Another major no-no for flight attendants on duty is having a drink with a passenger. After all, they're on board not to bear company for you. They're at work, they need to serve passengers and they have to come to help, whenever needed. So they absolutely can't allow themselves to get all liquored up. If they like their job and don't want to be fired the next morning, that is.
So no matter how much you like your flight attendant and want them to have a glass of wine with you, don't try to persuade them to do it. If you really need someone to join you for a drink, find a fellow passenger.
6 Help Passengers Make It To The Next Flight
You'll be surprised to learn how often flight attendants get this kind of request from their passengers. At times, some of the passengers have a connecting flight that they fear to miss and they ask the flight attendant to call ahead to hold it. Or, they also request to ask the pilots to fly faster.
Neither of these things is going to happen and you will only make a flight attendant laugh, so don't bother asking, no matter how much you want to. Of course, it can be stressful to come late for a connecting flight, but passengers should've thought about it earlier and leave enough time between flights when booking a connection.
5 Bother The Pilots
Some passengers think that flight attendants are free to enter the cockpit to check on the pilots or ask something as often as they want, but it's not true. In fact, they can't enter the pilot's cabin anytime they please and they need to follow a strict procedure for security reasons. According to Susan McCord, "Usually, you have to phone them first and let them know you’re coming in. Usually, there are codes on the door. You have someone who holds the curtain when you’re going in the door so nobody else can run through.''
Isn't it good news that no one, even flight attendants, can bother the pilots for no reason and distract them from doing their job, which is to keep a hundred passengers safe?
4 Let Passengers Hang Out In The Galley
The plane's kitchen, aka the galley, is a place, where flight attendants spend a lot of their time, while on board. They prepare the meals they will serve the passengers there and they keep most of the stuff they might need during the flight there. This is a place designed for, and only for, flight attendants. So, even though some passengers might think that it's a nice spot to hang out, while away the time, have a chat, and even dome some yoga to stretch the muscles during a long flight, no one, except for the crew, is allowed to the galley. You can stay near the galley only if you're waiting in line for the toilet. At any other times, you're going to be escorted to your seat, because flight attendants can't allow you to stay there.
3 Get Free Flights For Their Friends
Some people have a very weird set of mind. They think that if one is working as a flight attendant, it's easy for them to get a free flight not only for themselves but also for their friends and relatives. Nothing can be farther away from the truth! Flight attendants get their bonus flights because they work for an airline company and they get these flights only for themselves. Stephanie Rivers explains this simple truth, "I’m not supposed to use my access to the flight to transport other people or items."
So if you have a friend, who works as a flight attendant and think that they can get you a discount or a free pass, please think again.
2 Handle Any Kind Of Meds
In case of emergency, a flight attendant needs to act in accordance with the situation. For example, if a passenger needs it, flight attendants are certified to do CPR and use a defibrillator. But there are cases, where they can't do anything unless they're asked to do so by a medical specialist. "There’s a physicians’ kit that the in-charge has a key to, but that’s something only a nurse and doctor with credentials can get us to open up," says Susan McCord.
So if you ask a flight attendant to bring you an aspirin or an Advil, they won't be able to help you, so be sure to bring your own, if you think you might need it.
1 Escort Passengers Off The Plane
Even if you've had a very rough flight and need someone to help you leave the plane, flight attendants can't do it. "We can call someone to meet you," explains Shawn Kathleen, "but as long as there is still even a single passenger on the plane, we are not allowed to step off ourselves according to regulations."
If you really need help, no one can meet you, and there's no chance for you to leave the plane by yourself, you will be asked to wait to be the last person on the plane. Only, in this case, flight attendants can escort you out of the aircraft.