As in any walk of life, among travelers, there are good guys and bad guys. Naturally, you and I fall squarely in the good-guy category; here, we’re all above average. Still, it’s worth considering what makes a bad actor, travel-wise, and reality-checking our own habits. You know, just in case.
As comprehensive a list of objectionable travel behaviors as you’ll find anywhere was just published by Business Insider, reflecting interviews with more than 60 working flight attendants.
Of course, the fact that something rankles a flight attendant doesn’t make it wrong. But flight attendants have a heightened sense of onboard propriety, and if something irritates them, it probably has a similar effect on others. And really, it’s always a good idea to avoid biting the hand that feeds you.
So, what do flight attendants find most annoying about their charges? In no particular order:
- Hogging the overhead bins
- Not saying “hello” to the crew when boarding
- Giving the attendant trash while they’re serving meals
- Putting their feet on walls or other passengers’ seats
- Asking “What do you have?” (There’s a menu)
- Ignoring the safety announcement
- Not specifying how you take your coffee
- Not taking responsibility for your belongings
- Occupying the lav when the plane has begun its descent
- Wearing headphones when speaking to the attendant
- Ringing the call button unnecessarily
- Poking attendants to get their attention
- Going to the lav when the seatbelt sign is on
- Overreacting when a meal choice is unavailable
- Acting entitled
- Going barefoot (especially when visiting the lav)
- Asking to borrow the attendant’s pen
- Snapping your fingers to get attention
- Using the galley area to stretch
- Blaming attendants for mishaps beyond their control
- Expecting attendants to be as informed as the captain
Comparing the list of gripes to my normal travel habits, I came away with a clean bill of behavior. Almost. On long flights, when seated in coach, I do make it a habit to hover in the galley or around the lavatories, to relieve the pressure on my backside and stimulate circulation in my extremities. I do my best to stay out of the way of crewmembers attending to their duties, but I can understand that they’d probably prefer to have the area clear of pesky passengers. To which I’d respond: Give me a more comfortable seat, and I’ll happily stay in it. But I won’t say it out loud; flight attendants aren’t responsible for the design of coach-class seats or for layout of the cabin.
Far be it from me to bite the hand that feeds me.
Reader Reality Check
How many ways are you annoying your flight attendant?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.