It’s true: You’re not exactly at your most comfortable at 32,000 feet. But that doesn’t mean good behavior (and general common sense) should go out the cabin door. We checked in with a flight attendant for some insights on the common things passengers do up in the air that are total no-no’s.
1. ASKING FOR WATER THE SECOND YOU STEP ON BOARD
If you’re the type of person who likes to hydrate or typically feels parched before takeoff, some advice: Buy a super-sized Smartwater at the gate and call it a day. Flight attendants have quite a bit to do to get the cabin ready for departure (like reviewing air safety information and catering to small children). Getting you a glass of water isn’t high on the list.
2. OR, WORSE, REQUIRING HELP TO STOW YOUR BAG
Sure, flight attendants are there to make your air travel as smooth as possible. But it’s not exactly their job to lift your so-heavy-you-probably-should-have-checked-it bag that only fits in the overhead compartment if you really (really) wedge it in there. As a rule of thumb: If you can’t lift it or require special assistance, either check it, alert someone at the gate or — last resort — flag your seatmate to tag-team.
3. FAILING TO TIME BATHROOM RUNS AROUND THE LOCATION OF THE SNACK CART
Here’s the thing: 25 minutes after takeoff, it’s a given that the cart carrying snacks and Diet Coke and delicious anxiety-calming wine is going to come around. A flight attendant’s advice? Plan ahead. If you have to pee, choose the bathroom farthest from the cart (so if the cart is at the front of the plane, use the rear bathroom or vice versa) and go quick.
4. TAKING YOUR PET OUT OF THE APPROVED CARRIER CAGE
It’s actually against aviation rules to remove your dog from the pre-approved carrier they’re traveling in. (In fact, you’re supposed to purchase one that gives your pet enough room to stand up or lie down.) But many a passenger chooses to ignore this rule once on board. Flight attendants get it: You want to comfort your pup. But whispering soothing words or unzipping the bag slightly to pet them is a better (and much more legal) plan.
“It’s actually against aviation rules to remove your dog from the pre-approved carrier they’re traveling in.”
5. COMPLAINING ABOUT A DELAY
Don’t shoot the messenger: You might think that flight attendants have control over a delayed takeoff (and subsequent later arrival time), but to be clear, they really don’t. And even if you looked up the weather on your iPhone and it looks clear (and, therefore, air traffic control is wrong), keep in mind that there are a lot of variables in play with delays, ranging from weather to airplane congestion. If you have grievances, it’s better to take them up with the airline versus the staff trying to make you more comfortable on board.
6. …OR A MISSED CONNECTION
As a rule of thumb, you should always allow at least one hour to make a connection to another flight if you’re flying through a busy airport. (Think JFK in New York City, or Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.) And always remember the advice above: The flight attendants have no control over any of this.
7. IGNORING THE “FASTEN SEATBELT” SIGN
As a passenger, you definitely have the right to roam about as you please. That said, if the crew on-board turns on the “fasten seatbelt” sign — and reminds you to take your seat — but you decide the safety advice doesn’t apply to you, you forfeit all grounds for a complaint or lawsuit if you get injured. Just FYI.