What flight attendants are really thinking

Flight attendant talking to passengers in airplane

Have you ever sat on a long-haul flight and wondered exactly what the cabin crew are really thinking about you, behind those wide smiles?

SEE ALSO: Video goes viral: air stewardesses strip off on board

See also: Quiz: Guess the cabin crew

Well, we've gone undercover and found a flight attendant willing to crack his grin, and dish the dirt. So, fasten your seat belts, and pay attention to this announcement from Capt. Kirk *

(Note: *Real name has been changed to protect identity.)

1) What's the secret to keeping a smile on your face?

"It is something you have to learn to do, even when you are tired, it's 3am and all you want to do is go back to bed. Passengers expect a smile from us, it's that simple.

"Also, when someone's ranting at you about something or other, expecting a verbal fight, and you beam at them and agree with whatever it is that's bothered them, a smile works every time!"

SEE ALSO: The worst flight horror stories told by cabin crew

2) What do passengers not realise about how cabin crew feel?

"A lot of passengers assume that we are robotic and just carry on regardless. Our job can be rather repetitive day to day, so asking the same question to 200 people over and over again can give that impression. However, we are human, so if you are tired on an early morning flight, then so are we.

"We are also very good at leaving our home life at home. The worst thing you can do is bring your own problems into work. It gets you down, and the passengers don't care if you're having a tough time in your personal life."

3) What would you most like to say to your passengers... but can't?

"Probably "Calm down"! Lots of people get worked up over the slightest inconvenience and the amount of petty complaints we get is silly.

"It's a bit of a cliché but in the big scheme of things, the fact that there's no room in the stowage above you isn't the end of the world.

"If you board last and have a huge carry-on bag, chances are there won't be room for it directly above you. It's no problem, you can put it somewhere else, and I mean you, not me. You chose to bring on a massive heavy bag, so you can stow it!

"We do deliver a level of service that you are expecting, but sometimes it doesn't work out how you'd like it. We've not run out of chicken on purpose just to annoy you, so just have a little think before you start to complain about something that I can't change, in a metal tube, 6 miles up over the Atlantic!"

4) What's the nicest thing a passenger has ever done for you?

"Passengers don't really go out of there way to be 'nice' to us! The nice passengers are usually the ones that board, sit down with a nice small bag that fits under the seat in front of them, don't complain or moan loud enough for us to hear, order their drinks, smile and say please and thank you, and generally don't appear on our radar. Then they smile and tell us what a lovely flight they've had as they leave.

"We do occasionally get thank you letters from passengers who celebrated a birthday or honeymoon on a flight and we have gone out of our way to do something special for them."

5) What's the worst thing a passenger has every done to to you?

"Being verbally abusive and threatening violence towards the crew. This is usually because of alcohol, and it's very intimidating for the crew and other passengers as it's such a confined space. The last thing we want is a fight to break out. We are trained in de-escalation techniques, and, touch wood, every situation I've been involved in has ended without anyone getting hurt."

6) What's are most annoying things passengers do, without realising?

"The worst thing a passenger does without realising is drink too much without knowing the effects of alcohol on the brain at high altitude. Their voices get louder, they think they are being witty and funny, when actually they are annoying to us and other passengers. Although the crew on board can monitor what alcohol we sell, the Duty Free shops have started to sell miniature and 50cl bottles of spirits that can be brought onto the aircraft without us knowing."

"Unfortunately, by the time the situation comes to our attention, it's too late and we have a drunken passenger.

"Another annoying type of passenger is the 'I'm the only person with a child' parent. They think it's totally acceptable to let their child use the aisle as a private play area. Then we get filthy looks and responses from them when we ask them to keep a hold of the child.

"I have wandered up and down the aircraft with a child in my arms asking where the parents were, only to be told by them that their child has a right to play wherever they choose. Er, NO. They don't.

7) What do you love most about your job?

"What I love about my job is the fact it's not mundane 9-5. Getting your rosta and seeing a long- haul trip on there to somewhere you've not been before is a thrill. You also never know what sort of passengers you will have on board and what you'll have a chat and a giggle about.

"I've had some of the most amazing times in my life with my fellow cabin crew. We are a special bunch. We find the same things funny, annoying or tedious!

"Between us, we know that a raised eyebrow can mean anything from we've run out of coffee, to there's a major incident happening, but let's keep calm. No day is ever the same!"

8) What's the hardest moment during a flight?

"Boarding! Please people, get on, find your seat, stow your bag and sit down! It's impossible to do a head count when people are milling around, in the loo, moving seats, and moaning that we're not going anywhere!"

9) What sort of passenger do you most dread?

"I honestly don't dread any type of passenger. You can see a group of guys boarding in their matching T-shirts and think, 'Here we go, they are going to be a handful', and then they order tea and totally behave, and on the same flight have a lovely elderly couple have a domestic argument and start shouting at each other. You learn never to judge a book by its cover."

10) Have you ever been scared in mid-air?

"In all the years I've been flying, I've never been genuinely scared. I totally trust the guys at the pointy end, and my fellow crew members, to react calmly and professionally in any situation out of the norm. And that's the truth!"

11) Do you think the glamour has gone out of flying?

"Yes, and I lay the blame at the feet of the low-cost carriers, and the silly documentaries about airlines and airports.

"Long-haul flying still has a certain something about it, as we get to travel the world and visit some amazing places. But the days of quality uniforms, everyone getting a pre take-off drink, complimentary meals and drinks, and having time to interact more with the passengers have gone."

12) What advice would you give passengers to get the best service?

"The best advice I can give on receiving the best service is to be courteous, and understand that we are not on a power trip when we ask you to turn off your phone, put your seat upright, put your bags away, fasten your seatbelt...

"We do it for a very good reason: your safety."

World's worst-behaved air passengers
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What flight attendants are really thinking
If you're a non-smoker, you won't be able to think of anything worse than a smoker lighting up a cigarette next to you on a flight. Three Canadian passengers on a Sunwing flight did just that in February 2013 - even though smoking has been banned on aircrafts for more than 15 years. And what's more, they refused to put their cigarettes out and ended up diverting the flight, which was travelling from Halifax to the Dominican Republic, to Bermuda. When the plane landed, their passports were seized by police, while the other passengers continued their journey.
A British holidaymaker was banned for life from flying with Ryanair over his "inappropriate behaviour" which included passing out in the loo for 30 minutes and harassing women. When he was arrested in Tenerife, Spanish police were forced to wrestle him to the ground. One witness said he "kept trying to touch the girls sat in front of him" and tried to fight a man who stuck up for him. The man also locked himself in the toilet, assaulted cabin crew and had to be dragged off the flight by his feet and arms.
American passenger Joe Rickey Hundley was on a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta when he slapped a crying toddler, leaving a scratch below the boy's right eye. Hundley also used a racial slur to refer to the 19-month-old boy who was sitting on his mother's lap. According to the FBI, when the child started crying, he leaned over to the boy's mother and "told her to shut that (N-word) baby up".
Thought a naughty child kicking your chair was bad? In August 2013, 30 adults created the flight from hell when they ran riot on a Ryanair flight from Prestwick to Ibiza, swearing, threatening and even sexually harassing crew in front of other holidaymakers, including families with young children. The men were warned by police about their behaviour before boarding but this didn't stop their drunken rampage, which saw them shouting and jumping on the seats too.
One US Airways plane passenger was removed by men in hazmat suits and tested for ebola after joking that he had the fatal disease. The 54-year-old man reportedly yelled, "I have Ebola, you are all screwed," on a flight from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic and added, "I've been to Africa!". When the plane arrived in Punta Cana, a medical team boarded the plane and removed the man. He was found not to be infected with the virus, and it also transpired that he had never been to Africa.
In June 2013, a man on a United Airlines flight from Hong Kong to New York told flight attendants he had "poisoned everyone on board". There was no indication that anyone had actually been poisoned but imagine having to spend the rest of a long-haul flight wondering if someone had tampered with your airline meal. FBI agents waited to meet the flight as it landed and the passenger was restrained by fellow travellers after making the claim.
Terrified passengers on board an easyJet plane had to overpower a man who twice attempted to open a cabin door mid-flight at 35,000ft. The man, in his 40s, became agitated during the flight from Krakow to Edinburgh and started pacing up and down the aisles while clutching onto a flight safety instruction card, which detailed how to open the exit during an emergency situation. He then put on his rucksack and lunged for the door handle before being tackled by cabin crew and passengers and forcing an emergency landing at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
If the sound of babies crying on a flight is disruptive enough to your journey, you certainly wouldn't have enjoyed the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York, which saw an "unruly" passenger repeatedly sing Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. We've watched the video and the woman is no Whitney Houston! She ended up being handcuffed and removed from the flight - but not before putting the other passengers off Whitney's music for life!
One passenger was forced to clean up his own mess after he pulled down his pants and urinated in the plane galley on a flight to Johannesburg. The passenger was reportedly intoxicated and wanted to use the bathroom during takeoff. He was reminded to take his seat during takeoff but then decided to walk to the front of the plane and urinate in full view of fellow passengers. The man was detained when the flight landed.
A plane destined for Edinburgh had to be diverted to Gatwick Airport after a woman allegedly threw her prosthetic leg at cabin crew. Police said trouble kicked off when the woman, 48, began "swearing blue murder" and throwing food at staff on the Thomson Airlines flight. The captain became so alarmed by her behaviour that he diverted the plane and the woman was arrested by police when upon landing.
A man who had several drinks during his stopover in London told flight attendants, "I am going to f****** kill you, I am going to open this door, I am going to set off a bomb," when he was approached about his behaviour on a flight to Los Angeles. The captain gave him a warning to which he responded mockingly, "Ooo, El Capitan, can I pretend to be a stewardess?" He was eventually handcuffed and restrained by four flight attendants but spat at them.
One passenger was removed from an American Airlines flight after flipping out over a 'merry Christmas' greeting. The man was waiting for a flight from New York to Dallas when a gate agent welcomed passengers with the cheerful greeting while checking boarding passes. He said: "You shouldn't say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas." The agent replied, "Well, what should I say then?" The man shouted, "Don't say, 'Merry Christmas!'"  before brushing passed her. Once on the flight, he received another festive welcome by a flight attendant. The man began shouting and refused to calm down. He was removed from the flight as other passengers cheered.
Passenger Orion Koshinsky, 23, was on his way to rehab in Florida when he reportedly claimed to be a soldier to get free drinks before threatening to kill a flight attendant and forcing an emergency landing. He allegedly stood up and said: "I want to make sure everybody on the plane knows that I'm in the military and you can buy me drinks." Flight attendant Jeannie Piel told the FBI his behaviour changed "very quickly". After refusing to unbuckle his seat belt, she says he violently snapped and said: "Don't touch me, I'll kill you!" The pilot was alerted and the flight was diverted.
In one incident that will make you cringe, a British woman was caught having sex in a plane toilet with a male passenger she had just met - while her parents sat just metres away. The 'drunken' 20-year-old was travelling on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London Gatwick to Las Vegas for a family holiday when she disappeared to the toilet with the man sitting next to her. And as if this wasn't embarrassing enough, she then had to be handcuffed to her seat after verbally abusing cabin crew. A passenger told The Sun: "She was travelling with her mum and dad, and she started getting heated with the guy sitting next to her. They went to the bathroom, and people could hear loud noises. The cabin crew forced the door open. Then she really kicked off, screaming drunken abuse."
A passenger who took her pig on a US Airways flight was asked to leave when it became disruptive. The pig was travelling with the woman for emotional support. A passenger who was sat next to her said: "We could smell it and it was a pig on a leash. She tethered it to the arm rest next to me and started to deal with her stuff, but the pig was walking back and forth. I was terrified, because I was thinking I'm gonna be on the plane with the pig."
A Dutchman travelling to Frenc Guiana was caught trying to smuggle more than a dozen live hummingbirds inside his pants. The tiny birds were discovered hidden in special pouches sewn inside his underwear. They were individually wrapped in cloth and taped up to stop them from escaping. Airport officials noticed the passenger fidgeting and acting suspiciously, and, unsurprisingly, the man was detained by customs officers.
And if you thought what you've already seen was bad, feast your eyes on the most inconsiderate passengers in the world. One former flight attendant who has witnessed everything, from people clipping their fingernails on the plane to others putting their feet where they don't belong is exposing the worst behaved passengers on website passengershaming.com. See more flyers you don't want to be sat next to on a plane in a roundup.

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