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Are You One of Flight Attendants’ Top 10 Peeves?

Happy holidays?

Not so much if you’re one of the 42 million travelers who will squeeze their way through the country’s overtaxed commercial transportation system over the holidays.

Flights are full, lines long, and tempers short.

Like road rage, air rage turns normally mild-mannered Clark Kents into unhinged Superjerks.

While any mention of air rage typically conjures images of wild-eyed airline passengers whose inner crackpots are finally unleashed by the stress and indignities that today fairly define air travel, the syndrome is not confined to travel consumers.

Air rage is a two-way street. And on the other side of that street are the airline employees and other workers who make it possible for the teeming hordes to fly home for Christmas and get back in time to resume work post-New Year’s.

They’re stressed out, too. And their customers’ rage can only exacerbate their own, creating a vicious cycle of ever-escalating tempers.

What’s buggin’ them? A recent survey of more than 700 flight attendants from 85 countries by, a U.K.-based travel site, lists their top-10 peeves as follows:

  • Clicking fingers to get attention (26%)
  • Leaving seat before the light goes off (13%)
  • Stuffing too many bags into overhead locker (11%)
  • Complaining there’s no space for bags in the locker (10%)
  • Talking through the safety demo (9%)
  • Asking for more blankets/pillows (8%)
  • Stuffing rubbish in the seat pocket (7%)
  • Asking for a different meal (6%)
  • Ringing the attendant bell to complain about temperature (6%)
  • Asking for a specific brand of drink (4%)

As a former airline employee and longtime business traveler, my natural sympathies are divided. But it’s hard not to find resonance in the comments that follow the survey report, which are overwhelmingly from travelers who find the flight attendants’ gripes petty and unprofessional.

As John of York opined, “It’s a shame that these so-called ‘service providers’ find the actual needs of passengers so annoying. They should realize that what might seem a normal procedure to them might be annoying or stressful to an infrequent flyer. We pay their salaries and are not sheep to be herded.”

The picture that emerges is of two irreconcilable groups locked in a grim struggle to advance their incompatible interests while maintaining a modicum of composure. With such a combustible mix, there are bound to be flare-ups.

During the holiday crush, flyers on both sides of the serving cart will be chanting the same mantra, less “We wish you a merry Christmas,” more “Can’t we all just get along?”

Reader Reality Check

What do you do to relieve the stress of holiday travel?

This article originally appeared on

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