The typical, everyday translation of the “Golden Rule” is to treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Be nice. Don’t be a jerk. It’s not a very difficult concept but unfortunately, there are lots of people who don’t follow it. Especially on planes.
Flight attendants. (FAs) have always had to deal with rude passengers who don’t want to follow the rules. Since the mid-2010s or so, even more people have shown they think the rules somehow exclude them. Treating an FA the way you’d like to be treated is more important than ever.
There are several simple ways to make flight attendants know that they’re appreciated and respected. Here are 15 of them:
Return their greeting – FAs greet just about every person who boards their plane. Granted, they’re doing it for a specific reason. But how many passengers say “hello” back, especially with eye contact and a smile? Be that passenger.
Wait to ask for things – While the plane is loading, as some FAs need to greet everyone, others need to get everybody settled so the plane can take off on time. Unless they specifically ask or offer, that’s probably not the best time to ask for a pillow or drink.
Pay attention to the safety spiel – I don’t care if you’ve heard it a bajillion times before. The FA’s main job is to keep you safe, and they can see who’s attentive and who isn’t. So watch them and pay attention. It’s less than 5 minutes out of your life. Besides, you might be lucky enough to get one of these. 😉
Let them help you – If you’re scared of flying (here are some tips), or are feeling sick, let them know. FAs can try to help you feel more comfortable and it’s better if they try that than having a panic attack or puking.
Come bearing gifts – How do you feel when someone brings you a little something extra at work? If you have a store-bought package of candies or snacks, the FAs can share, or maybe some $5 Starbucks gift cards, it’ll make their day, and you may get brownie points. 😉
Understand priorities – If you ordered a coffee 10 minutes ago and it still hasn’t gotten there, look around to see what’s going on. Could there be an emergency behind you? Someone who just threw up in the aisle because they didn’t tell the FA that they were feeling sick is more important than your drink.
About the call button – If you want to know when snacks will be served, or if you would like a blanket, don’t use the call button to ask about it. Just wait until your FA goes past you. It won’t be a long wait. Save the call button for important things.
Know what you want – Whether it’s a drink/snack service or a full meal, you get plenty of warning that the time to place your order is coming up. When it’s your turn to order, know what you want so you’re not making your decision as the FA is standing there. And if you want milk and sugar with your coffee, ask for it then, so the FAs don’t have to come back later on with your “afterthoughts.” Don’t waste their time.
About those headphones – If the FA is talking to you, take the headphones off for a second, so they don’t have to repeat themselves 3 times.
Your kids are your kids, and nobody else’s – They’re your responsibility to entertain, not the FA’s, so come with everything they’ll need to keep them happy, comfortable and occupied. Bring food and drink for them, too, if they won’t/can’t eat what’s available on the plane. Oh, and if you have to use the lavatory? FAs are not your built-in babysitters.
Stay out of the galley as much as possible – That’s the only space FAs have for themselves; to prepare for service, to talk with each other, to just hang out when they’re on break for a moment. It’s usually OK to stop and talk for a minute or two, but don’t invade their space for an extended period of time.
It is what it is – If your FA gives you bad news and says the plane’s delayed, or they’re out of the beef, don’t argue and make a fuss; they can’t do anything to fix it. The same thing goes for the IFE not working or your seat not being able to recline. Things happen and whatever it is, it’s rarely the FA’s fault. Suck it up and don’t take your frustrations out on them.
Always be respectful – Say “please” and “thank you.” Don’t be demanding and for heaven’s sake, don’t poke, tap or touch them in any way to get their attention. Saying, “excuse me” works just fine.
Listen to instructions – if you’ve landed and the FAs are asking everyone to stay in their seats so people with tight connections can exit the plane first, stay in your flippin’ seat.
Did a FA treat everyone well or somehow impress you? – Make sure to personally thank them for whatever specific thing it was (i.e. “I love how you were able to get that little boy to stop crying by inviting him to help you! Thanks for doing that!”) Also, consider getting their name and employee number, so you can email the airline with a compliment. A good word from a passenger can go a long way.
In the age where so many passengers are rude or have unrealistic expectations, those little pats on the back could make the difference between your flight attendants having a good day and a lousy one – helping someone have a better day is always appreciated. And who knows – it could score you a little something extra, such as a free drink or a few extra packs of Biscoff cookies. Either way, it never hurts to go that extra mile to be nice to someone.
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