Flight Attendants Are Sharing Their Juiciest Secrets And Tips From On The Job, And I Never Knew These
We asked flight attendants in the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their best secrets, tips, and stories from their jobs. Here are the fascinating results.
Note: Obviously, we can't 100% confirm all of these stories, but these people are allegedly speaking from their own experiences as aircraft employees. Enjoy!
1."I used to work for a UK airline. It was normal for passengers who died on board to be kept in their seats until landing. We'd wrap them up in blankets and prop them up so it looked like they were sleeping (to not freak out the other passengers)."
2."Flight attendants are typically allowed to give liquor to passengers whenever they wanted. You're way more likely to get free drinks if the flight isn't full, so always be polite and friendly to the staff. If your flight is full, it's very hard to comp one person without everyone wanting free stuff."
3."I worked ground crew at a private airport. Flights from other countries have to throw away all the uneaten food right off the plane, as it's 'international waste' and needs to be incinerated. Additionally, if flights for private planes are ever delayed, their food that was standing by has to go somewhere...so they gave it to us. So tasty."
4."We have a list of every passenger’s full name and seat number. Sometimes when we’re bored we’ll google you."
5."The toilets are near where we sit. No matter how hard you try to cover up the fact that you’re taking a dump, it makes a different noise than if you just go number one, so we always know. Also, no matter what stupid thing you saw or read about online, getting a 'free seat upgrade' is complete bollocks 99% of the time."
6."A friend of mine works for a popular airline and told me whenever they fly into Saudi Arabia, the airline makes the flight attendants lock the entire galley (including all the food, drinks, and even the napkins and cutlery, too). This is because, in the past, Saudi Arabian authorities would come on board and literally take anything they wanted and would walk out, and there was nothing the airline or staff could do about it."
7."When flight attendants greet you as you step on the plane, they're doing two things: 1. Checking to see if you're drunk/stoned, and 2. Checking to see if you're strong/buff, so in the event of an emergency they can tap you in if need be (i.e. to pull open the emergency door, lift something heavy, etc.)."
8."ALWAYS wipe down your tray table. They are never cleaned or sanitized between flights. Also, the cleaners only vacuum and briefly look in the toilets, so don’t let your babies crawl on the floor!"
9."With the captain’s permission, we will purposefully board a flight we already know is delayed, close the door, and taxi out to sit on the tarmac. Otherwise, the crew doesn’t get paid for the time we're delayed for."
"Still, federal regulations require us to return to the gate if we haven’t been cleared for takeoff after a certain amount of time."
10."As a pilot, I have experienced at least one failure on a plane per month. Pretty much every plane flying right now has at least one thing broken and is just wait ng to be fixed the next time it's due for maintenance. Chances are you've flown on a plane that had a problem and just didn't know it."
"Aircrafts have something called MEL ('minimum equipment list'), so things can fail but still be safe enough to fly. They're almost always small things (like a burnt-out lightbulb) that we don't tell the passengers about because there's really no reason to stress you out. Unless there are any changes to the flight's destination, we just keep quiet and keep going."
11."Most people probably don't know this, but on the bigger planes, there are beds above the overhead bins so we flight attendants can sleep on longer flights."
12."I was on a flight from Minneapolis to Boston. A flight attendant approached me and said, 'I think someone is having sex in the bathroom. What do I do?' I went to the back galley and knocked on the door. Silence. I knocked a second time. Nothing. After the third time I said, 'I’m going to give you a couple minutes to stop what you’re doing and get dressed.' They didn't come out, so I said the in-flight crew must enter. I unlocked the door, saw a vagina, and immediately closed the door."
"I told them I didn't want to embarrass them in front of the customers or have to call the authorities and do the paperwork, so they needed to come out. The guy came out and called me a f*cking c-word, which we consider a threat. I let it go. Then he approached the lead flight attendant and straight-up asked if they could finish having sex.
The guy refused to let it go, so the cabin attendant had to get involved. Things kept escalating, so we had authorities on the ground and escorted him and his guest off of the aircraft when we landed."
13."All of the crew members talk during flights, so if you're rude to one of us, just remember that we all know who you are and where you're sitting, and there WILL be notes about you in the airline database for future flights."
14."At my airline, we're taught to not lift up passengers' suitcases for them to stow in overhead compartments. We can 'assist' if they are also lifting their bag, but if we end up getting hurt, it’s possible the company will not cover it as worker’s comp since it's purposefully not in our job requirements."
"If the person is elderly or disabled and clearly can’t lift it, then we'll help, but for the most part it’s something we try not to do."
15."I worked for a very popular, high-class airline for 3.5 years. One of my wildest experiences was on a flight from Russia to Dubai. A couple bought a bottle of vodka and brought it on board (which is fine), but then they opened it up and drank it (not fine). They got very intoxicated and had a full-on screaming match in Russian. We had to separate them and watch them to ensure they stayed apart. The woman ended up urinating on herself and the seat."
"They got off the plane together at the end of the flight. We, of course, sent warnings to our colleagues who operated their connecting flights."
16."Passengers may not love the airplane food, but it’s better than what the flight attendants get: nothing. On international flights, the pilots get fed, but flight attendants have to pack their own food or go hungry for 14-plus hours, depending on the flight."
"It's the same thing for the layover and flight home — the company provides no food for flight attendants."
17."My mom has been a flight attendant for 30-plus years. What I find the wildest is that they’ve been working throughout the entire pandemic but aren’t classified as 'essential workers.' Her airline has done NOTHING to help get them vaccinated."
"The CEO keeps earning their bonuses while working from home though."
18."The cabin crew is very aware of everything and everyone! We know who's trying to vape, who took really smelly poos, and who took their pants off during the flight. And, yes, we all tell each other about it."
"We also know how many drinks you've had, and we have tactics to make sure you don't drink too much. And unfortunately we've definitely seen people try to watch porn on flights."
19."People think that if they accidentally break a tray or seat handle or something they're going to get charged. You won't. Just tell us so we can put it in the logbook for repairs. It helps us out in the long run so we don't have to delay the next flight."
"We're not going to charge you or bill you for the damages. We also know who sat in which seat, so there's literally no reason to hide the fact that you broke it. If we find out later, it's just going to delay the next flight for longer, and then the rest of that gate's flights will get pushed back even further."
20."It's always the full-grown adults who throw the biggest fits when asked to wear their seatbelt. They're way worse than any child."
21."I’ve been working as a flight attendant for two years now, and I believe I’ve encountered three separate instances of someone urinating outside of the lavatories, so whenever I see people walking around barefoot or just in socks I find it so nasty."
"And when I tell passengers that they may want to put on shoes before going to the restroom, most people still don't want to listen."
22."I've been a flight attendant for seven years. We definitely take notice of who's hot on the plane. We play a game by calling people BOB ('Boyfriend on Board') or a 'raftie,' as in someone who you'd want in your raft in the water if need be."
"We'll be like, 'Did you see BOB in 16A?,' or, 'There's a lot of rafties on this flight.'" We also notice rude people and talk sh*t about them as soon as we finish service and are in the galley."
23."Pilot here. Sometimes I work 14-hour days and get no lunch break, so when your flight is delayed, it's probably because I went to get food."
"Let's say my first leg is 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., then 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., then 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and then 3 p.m. to 5 p.m... Technically I get a break at noon, but I might have to switch planes or walk to the new aircraft that's in a completely different part of the terminal. Well, there goes my one-hour break.
I usually just grab something on the way and eat while we're in cruise instead. The other pilot and I will plan ahead as to who's eating and when, and we'll buy food for each other while the other person runs ahead and gets things started if the queue at the restaurant is long. I really appreciate it when someone lets me cut them in line so I don't have to wait. They're the real MVPs and truly make my day."
24."I've been in the business for nearly 20 years. It's illegal in the US to drink your own alcohol on an aircraft. I’ve had passengers go against this rule, and the result can be anything from being removed from a flight to being arrested."
"TSA will allow you to bring nips through security (not their priority), and you can buy liquor in some airports, but only flight attendants, like bartenders, can serve you and determine how much you can have and when you're cut off."
25."A lot of people want to be flight attendants because they think they'll be able to explore the world, but usually our layovers are between 10–14 hours, which is barely enough time to get to the hotel, take a shower, eat something, and sleep."
"Sometimes we’ll get a longer layover and get to explore, but it’s not an everyday occurrence. Most of us will use our flight benefits to travel on our 10–12 days off per month instead."
26.And finally, "For people who don’t wear shoes to the bathroom...that’s definitely not water on the floor."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity. Also, some responses are from this Reddit thread because they were too good to not include.