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20 Years at 30,000 Feet: A Flight Attendant Answers Readers’ Questions


As a flight attendant who has been on the job for 20 years, it’s easy to take my travel insights as a right — the little suggestions and tricks that make the journey smoother.

But after watching so many passengers miss essential events this summer due to airline cancellations and delays, I knew I had to begin sharing that knowledge. Last month I offered nine suggestions for surviving travel now, and I used to be surprised by the positive response — and the hundreds of comments.

After the story published, I invited readers to ask more questions, of which I received a whole lot. I do know, to a few of you, I actually have a curious and mysterious job. It was fun to learn what you wonder about, from how we glance so fresh after long flights (dim lighting) as to if or not it’s best to drink the coffee onboard (I don’t, but many of the flight attendants do).

Listed here are my answers to a collection of your questions, a few of which have been frivolously edited for length and clarity. I hope you enjoy them.

We would like you to talk up. You’ve got an important job in that row, and we want to have the option to trust everyone sitting there. We ask everyone within the row in the event that they are willing and capable of assist in an evacuation, and being unwilling is perfectly comprehensible. Nothing bad happens; you possibly can move to some other open seat, or we ask around for somebody to trade seats with you. There’s all the time someone who would like the exit row for the additional leg room.

Acknowledging us as people and never treating us as a part of the aircraft furniture goes a good distance. It’s demoralizing to welcome people aboard flights who look all the way through us with no response. Smiling, and saying little things like “please” and “thanks” all the time helps to spice up our spirits. That perfect flight attendant smile is difficult to maintain when everyone around is giving us the stink eye.

Don’t touch flight attendants. This ought to be common sense, but in some way it’s not. We don’t prefer to be poked, tapped or grabbed.

The dearth of headphone etiquette drives me nuts. There’s nothing more annoying than attempting to refer to someone who’s looking right at me, they usually don’t care enough to pause their movie or take their earbuds out. The funny part is, normally I’m asking them what they wish to drink or eat. I give the courtesy of asking 3 times. If I don’t get a response, then I move to the following passenger. Here is the worst part: About three rows later that very same person will ring their call button and ask why they didn’t get a drink.

Yes! There is no such thing as a secret handshake, we simply say hi and tell them where we’re sitting. We don’t get special treatment, aside from possibly making a recent friend or getting a complete can of soda. We let the crew know as a courtesy in case there may be an emergency on board, in order that they know where to go for an additional hand to assist out.

First, and most significant: Your child will feel your nerves. In case you are stressed, they will probably be stressed. Make flying as exciting as possible for them ahead of time. Dress them in a special recent airplane outfit, or buy a recent book, or a box of crayons. Allow them to have all of the screen time they need. Download and watch a recent movie or series. Practice with headphones before the flight in order that they know the way they work. Allow them to hold their very own little “on the go” bag, with recent airplane activities in it. Allow them to eat or drink something on the plane they aren’t all the time allowed to have, like a cookie, chips or just a little soda. We don’t all the time have them, but you possibly can all the time ask the crew for those little plastic wings, and tell us if it’s their first flight.

Keep your carry-ons as light as possible, and check the remaining. Pack just a few diapers, a change of garments, some snacks and any medication. We also like if you bring automobile seats. I do know they’re heavy and hard to take care of, but most times small kids feel more comfortable since it’s familiar, and it boosts them high enough to see out the window. We like them because they’re safer. It also doesn’t hurt to allow them to run their energy out within the airport before the flight.

There’s nothing I can say to calm your nerves after losing friends on that day. All of us lost something, but for you it was personal. That’s a lot deeper than an irrational fear of flight. All of us have anxieties about flying, even when we are usually not actually scared. You are usually not alone.

Other passengers can add to all of that, but, for probably the most part, should you mind your individual business, then other people shouldn’t trouble you. Legitimate problems with passengers are literally few and much between. I don’t prefer to fly as a passenger anymore either; being around people on my day without work causes mild anxieties. So I feel you. Once I fly as a passenger, I’ve began bringing noise-canceling headphones and my tablet loaded with movies or shows. I start watching something as soon as I sit down and pretend I’m in my lounge. I’m immediately engrossed in my show.

In case you are seated next to someone who’s causing you anxiety, there’s a likelihood an attendant can move you if the flight isn’t full. It is usually perfectly reasonable to ask a gate agent should you can sit by a window or aisle before boarding. A glass of wine may help, too, to provide help to calm down and luxuriate in the flight.

No, I don’t normally get scared. Every every now and then something startles me, though. I do know every sound and feeling my airplane makes, and once I hear something that isn’t quite right I get nervous. If I would like to, I call the pilots and allow them to know what I heard, they usually check things out.

I might all the time somewhat be flying than driving. Driving to and from work is the scariest a part of my week. I like being within the sky looking down. The world looks so peaceful from above. My office window is a pleasant respite from a crazy world of traffic and chaos. Attempt to take into consideration that as an alternative. A few of our flying fear is the shortage of control: We’ve to place our trust in two people up front whom we don’t know and may’t see. They undergo lots of training to earn that responsibility. We take it as a right, but flying really is a marvel. Try to disregard the remaining and luxuriate in having the ability to journey somewhere in just a few hours’ time, in comparison with the weeks or months it could have taken our ancestors.

That we’re on airplanes for customer support. We are literally there for safety. Before World War II, air hostesses were registered nurses. The requirement to be a nurse ended in the course of the war since the nurses quit flying to hitch the war efforts. Now, we undergo intense training to learn find out how to use all the security equipment onboard, and where it’s on each aircraft. We train on basic lifesaving skills, akin to CPR. We learn find out how to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds or less in case of emergency landing on land or in water. We also learn firefighting, and find out how to take care of security threats and unruly passengers.

The second biggest misconception is that our job is glamorous. Our days are very long, and our overnights short. Sometimes we’re so drained that, as an alternative of having fun with our long layovers by sightseeing, we spend them in our hotel rooms in pajamas watching movies. Some nights are incredible, though. The craziest part is that one night I will be sitting by the ocean, sipping prosecco with fresh seafood, and the following I will be eating a four-day-old sandwich in my galley, next to a bathroom, while someone is doing yoga in my face. Being a flight attendant is so way more than simply a job; it changes your whole lifestyle. But I wouldn’t have it some other way.

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