In All My Years as a Flight Attendant, This One Passenger Is Truly the Most Memorable

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Has anyone ever bribed an air hostess for any kind of favor? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Janice Bridger, Flight Attendant for 25 years, on Quora:

I think many of us Flight Attendants have had people who have offered us incentives. It happens all the time. People come on the airplane with a box of chocolates (the most common), candy, or other treats like popcorn, and in a few cases, even hot food, like a pizza. Occasionally, someone will give me what I call “party favors”: a pen, or a lapel pin, a trinket from their last business meeting or convention. Some might consider that a bribe, but I don’t. They don’t ask for anything in return, and the most they might get is a little acknowledgement in their direction, perhaps an extra bag of peanuts or a hot baked cookie left over from First Class. The most they might expect is a glass of wine (poured from the First Class bottle) or maybe even a free drink, though even that rarely happens. Hardly worth calling it a bribe.

As for an actual bribe, offered and intended as a bribe expecting something like a free upgrade, free meal, or free ticket in return? I’ve never come across it.

Technically, we are not allowed to accept anything from passengers that can be construed as a bribe. This includes “tips.” We are to politely thank and refuse. If the passenger continues to insist, we are to again refuse. If it becomes an issue, for example, if begins to draw the attention of others around us, and the amount is small, then we can accept it just to keep the peace.

One exception...

Years ago, I worked an overnight (red-eye) flight out of Anchorage with two other Flight Attendants. One of the passengers managed to sneak himself a number of drinks off of a bottle of Jack Daniels that he was carrying; we never saw him doing it. But when he staggered his way back to use the lavatory, we quickly realized that he was severely intoxicated.

Fortunately for us, he was a happy drunk; cheerful, smiling and very pleasantly joyful! He found delight in everything around him, and didn’t mind that we helped him into the lav and stood “guard” at the door while he took forever to do his business. When he came out, we had to assist with “zipping him back up”. He didn’t want to sit back down, so I poured him some coffee and spent a half-hour or so chatting with him. I found him to be a funny, intelligent and caring person. He was a creative and gentle soul, and very, very drunk in a completely harmless way.

Several times during our conversation, he tried to give us all “tips”, in the amount of 100 bills. Each time, we politely refused, suggesting that he keep it for himself. He boasted that he had made so much money on the boat (crabbing) that he wanted to share his fortune with us, but we insisted that he keep it in his wallet.

Satisfied that he was not going to pose a problem for us, I left him in the capable hands of my crew and returned to the First Class cabin where I was working.

When we arrived at our destination five or six hours later, the nice guy had slept for a while, and had sobered up enough to walk on his own, though he was still quite intoxicated. As he came to the front of the plane, he grasped my hand with a hearty handshake, thanking me profusely for being so very kind to him. Then, he let go and quickly stumbled off of the airplane, leaving a wad of folded notes in my hand. It was too late to yell after him, and FAA regulations prohibit us from leaving the aircraft while passengers are still on board. So I opened up the wad and was stunned to see nine 100 bills.

Later, the three of us discussed it, and determined that it was appropriate to donate the money to a charity, which we did.

I never forgot that kind man’s generosity. I believe that when people are drunk, their inhibitions drop and they become more of who they really are. If they are a mean person, they become meaner. But if they are, at heart, a kind, happy, giving person, then they become more so when they drink.

I think this man was kind and caring, and I believe that he was probably a very giving person. He may have later regretted “tipping” us that much, (or maybe not), but I’m sure that if he learned where the money went, he would be happy about that.

Maybe he’ll see this on Quora and recognize himself. If so, I would say, “Thank you for being so kind!”

We need more passengers of his ilk!

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