Coffee, Tea, or Drop Dead?

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11ef - Spirit Airlines DC-9-41; N131NK@FLL;30.01.1998
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Flying is a generally unpleasant experience. You're herded through security, sit in an often dirty terminal, and then enter the cattle car of the plane itself. Seats keep getting smaller; space, tighter. You'll be lucky if there are peanuts or cookies to go with a drink. Bad food costs. You might be tempted to pony up for something with alcohol and curl up, withdrawing from the scene as much as possible. Until the child four rows back starts screaming.

But it could be worse. You could have a rude and useless flight attendant who could push you over the edge of discomfort into the land of misery. Stand up for yourself and there's always the lurking fear that you'll get turned over to TSA agents when you land. The site recently polled its members for their opinions on the US airlines with the rudest flight attendants, as the site's founder, George Hobica, blogged in Huffington Post Travel.This year the ... uh, winner was Spirit, which received 26 percent of the almost 3,400 votes cast. Next was Air Canada, at 14 percent. (Whatever happened to Canadian manners?) Frontier was third with 11 percent, fourth was Virgin America at nine percent, and, at eight percent, number five was Allegiant. However, United and US Airways, which wanted to merge at one point, weren't that far behind at seven percent each. American garnered five percent. Who was best loved? Southwest, as it received only one percent of the vote.

This wasn't a scientific poll and not necessarily representative of the experience of travelers as a whole. Last year the UK travel website Skyscanner held a similar poll and American came out on top--or would that be bottom?--according to the site, with United and Delta rating second and third (although Spirit was in the top five). And in a previous AirfareWatchdog poll, Delta was voted as having the rudest attendants, followed by United.

Ah, so many flights, so many chances to be rude. The real point is that attendants often feel negativity from passengers, according to an anonymous FareCompare interview with an anonymous flight attendant. People abuse carry-on restrictions and can be demanding and impatient.

What can you do? Work to make the attendant like you, writes Hobica. As he notes, "if you're good to them, they'll be extra nice to you." Here are a few ways he offered of doing that.
  1. Say hello and don't treat the attendants as inanimate objects.
  2. Remove headphones when they're trying to talk to you, like when they ask what you want to drink.
  3. Say please and thank you. Manners go a long way with everyone.
  4. Put your bag in the overhead bin the way they ask you to.
  5. Bring sealed treats for the crew. Who can get cranky when they get a cookie?
And if you get a particularly nice attendant, tell the airline. Nothing like a little official job recognition to make someone want to do better.
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