Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant: Attack of the Ambien Zombies (Part One)


Betty“ is a real-life flight attendant who has had enough.

You think you’ve got it bad when your inflight entertainment conks out, the Pixie-Stix addicted kid behind you mistakes the back of your chair for a vertical trampoline, and the plane runs out of “Good Morning Sunshine” cheese boxes? That’s child’s play. Welcome to Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant, a Yahoo Travel series where "Betty” describes the harrowing, real life situations she and her comrades in the sky face every day, 35,000 miles away from a foot massage and premium whiskey.


Airplane meal in 1939. (Photo: Allison Marchant)

The biggest problem I face on planes today is the new wave of Ambien zombies. In their real lives, these are probably nice, normal people who just want to get a little sleep on an airplane. Then they choose to take Ambien for the first time on a big metal tube hurtling through the sky after they throw back a couple of cocktails. The result is a horde of lumbering, slumbering zombie passengers wreaking havoc on the airplane.


Full bottle of Ambien. (Photo: Zacharmstrong)

We Call it “The Streak”

On a recent long-haul international night voyage another flight attendant noticed something unusually pale in the aisle. She blinked before realizing it was a totally nude man from coach, gunning straight for first class. She began to run after him and then hesitated. You never know what a stark-naked man might do if you don’t approach him the right way.

Upon closer inspection, my co-worker heaved a sigh of relief. He was just an Ambien zombie.

Here is what we have learned about the Ambien zombies: These folks are sleeping, which means they think they are at home and safe in their beds. When they are home and safe in their beds they think it is perfectly acceptable to take off all of their clothes.

The flight attendant needed to move the naked and hairy man. She poked him with just the tip of her finger, gently nudging him closer to the galley with every tap. When she retrieved his pants, she sternly commanded him: “You put your clothes on!”

An hour later when the lights came back up, he sheepishly shuffled back to the galley and asked, “Did I do something weird last night?”

Tired and unsure what to say, she didn’t mince words.

“You wandered around the plane butt-naked,” she replied.

The passenger hung his head. “I figured something was wrong,“ he said, "when I woke up with my underwear in my hand.”

Man Down!

When you’ve been flying a long time, you get to know what people look like when they are about to pass out. We try to catch them because they can really hurt themselves when they hit the floor (and frankly it’s a lot more paperwork).

On a recent night flight to London, I was walking from coach to first class when the lavatory door opened and this man fell out of the door, unconscious, into my arms.

There is a rule on the airplane: “If you find it … it’s yours,” meaning that if you are the first on the scene of a medical emergency, it’s your deal. It’s the same with puke.

As he lay in my arms, I worried he was having a heart attack, a stroke, or a seizure.

"Are you ok?” I asked.

“It’s slippery in there … like an ice rink,” he slurred.

Sigh. Just a drunk Ambien zombie.

He stood up and we managed to guide him to his seat where he demanded another glass of wine.

The other flight attendants and I sternly told him, “NO MORE WINE.”

Five minutes later, he stumbled into the galley.

“I want another drink,” he demanded.

“You can’t have a drink when you can’t stand,” we replied.

“I can stand. Look,” he said, with the petulant tone of a toddler. He extended his arms out like a cross and then fell like an axed tree, smacking his head against the galley floor. He didn’t even feel it.

Once we got him back to his seat, he slept it off. That’s the thing about Ambien zombies—they never remember anything the next day, but they always ask us where the lumps on the back of their head came from.

Stay tuned until next Monday for another installment of Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant.