What flight attendants are really thinking

Is there something sinister going on behind that smile?


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."

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