A seat belt sign seems self-explanatory enough: Stay seated, and latch your seat belt. Once it’s off, you can feel free to get up and stretch your legs or head to the bathroom. But crew members know the ins and outs of what it really means when that symbol is lit up—and it’s a bit more complicated than you realized.
22 things your flight attendant won’t tell you
22 things your flight attendant won’t tell you
1. Want to start off on the wrong foot with me?
Put your carry-on in a full overhead bin, leave it sticking out six inches, then take your seat at the window and wait for someone else (me!) to come along and solve the physics problem you just created. By the way, this is what your flight attendant first notices about you.
2. Yes, passengers are incredibly rude...
..but stealing a beer, cursing out passengers, and jumping out of a plane is not the way to handle it. You disarm an unruly passenger by introducing yourself, asking his name, and saying something like ‘I’ve been incredibly nice to you for three hours. Why are you treating me like this?’ Generally, that gets the other passengers on your side—and sometimes they’ll even applaud.
3. We don't have a boyfriend in every city.
And our median age these days is 44.
4. An all-too-common scenario?
I hand you a cup of coffee and say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ I say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ Come on, people. What do you think we’re going to ask after we’ve handed you coffee? Your favorite color? (But in all honesty, you probably shouldn't order coffee on a plane.)
5. If you’re traveling with a small child and you keep hearing bells, bells, and more bells...
If you’re diabetic, bring syringes. If you have high blood pressure, don’t forget your medication. That way, I’m not trying to make a diaper out of a sanitary pad and a pillowcase or asking over the intercom if someone has a spare inhaler. Here are some other little flying etiquette rules you know.
8. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there are other people on the airplane besides you.
So don’t clip your toenails, snore with wild abandon, or do any type of personal business under a blanket!
9. If you’re traveling overseas, do yourself a favor and bring a pen.
You would not believe how many people travel without one, and you need one to fill out the immigration forms. I carry some, but I can’t carry 200. Here are some more tips to know before your next flight.
10. Passengers are always coming up to me and tattling on each other.
‘Can you tell him to put his seat up?’ ‘She won’t share the armrest.’ What am I, a preschool teacher?
11. I hate working flights to destinations like Vail and West Palm Beach.
The passengers all think they’re in first class even if they’re not. They don’t do what we ask. And the overhead bins are full of their mink coats.
12. Do you really have to go to the bathroom right now, while we’re wrestling a 250-pound food cart down the aisle?
You can’t wait 90 seconds for us to pass?
13. Is it that difficult to say hello and goodbye?
I mean it. No one likes to be poked, but it’s even worse on the plane because you’re sitting down and we’re not, so it’s usually in a very personal area. You would never grab a waitress if you wanted ketchup or a fork, would you?
16. I don’t care if you want to be in the mile-high club, keep your clothes on.
Who decided the mile-high club was something that everyone wants to do anyway? It’s cramped and dirty in those bathrooms.
17. If you hear us paging for a doctor...
...or see us running around with oxygen, defibrillators, and first aid kits, that’s not the right time to ask for a blanket or a Diet Coke. Here are some other pet peeves of flight attendants.
18. The only place you are allowed to pee...
...on the airplane is in the lavatory. Period.
19. Don’t ask us if it’s OK to use the lavatories on the ground.
The answer is always yes. Do you think what goes into the toilet just dumps out onto the tarmac?
20. You really expect me to take your soggy Kleenex?
Or your kid’s fully loaded diaper? I’ll be right back with gloves.
21. Sure, I don’t mind waiting while you scour the seatback pocket
...and the floor for candy wrappers and other garbage, then place them in my bag one by one. I only have 150 other passengers to serve.
22. I’m sorry it’s taking forever to get you a wheelchair.
That’s one thing you can’t blame the airline for. The wheelchair service is subcontracted to the cities we fly into, and it’s obviously not a top priority for many of them. Want more insider air travel info? These are the secrets your airplane pilot won't tell you.
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The plane is taking off soon
Just because you’ve been told to stay in your seat doesn’t mean the flight crew has to—yet. Airlines have their own rules about what the chimes you hear mean, but if you hear two dings, then see the seat belt sign flash, the pilot could be warning the crew to sit down because the plane is about to take off, says former Virgin Atlantic flight attendant Laura Hutcheson tells the Washington Post. (Learn about the code behind chimes, announcements, and other in-flight noises.)
You’re about to land
That same signal the captain uses to communicate takeoff time is also used when the plane is about to land, Hutcheson adds. “It is the final sign from the captain for the crew to take their seats,” she says.
Pilot explains code words
Pilot explains code words
"Doors to arrival and crosscheck."
Used in a sample sentence: "Flight attendants, doors to arrival and crosscheck."
Definition: The announcement, usually made by the lead flight attendant as the plane is approaching the gate, is to verify that the emergency escape slides attached to each door have been disarmed — otherwise the slide will deploy automatically as soon as the door is opened.
Used in a sample sentence: "Flight attendants, doors to arrival, crosscheck, and all-call."
Definition: According to Smith, "all-call" is usually part of the door arming/disarming procedure. "This is a request that each flight attendant report via intercom from his or her station — a sort of flight-attendant conference call," he wrote.
Definition: "A racetrack-shaped course flown during weather or traffic delays," Smith wrote. "Published holding patterns are depicted on aeronautical charts, but one can be improvised almost anywhere."
Used in a sample sentence: "We've now reached our cruising altitude of flight level three-three-zero. I'll go ahead and turn off the seatbelt sign."
Definition: "There's a technical definition of flight level, but I'm not going to bore you with it," Smith wrote.
According to the long-time airline pilot, flight level is simply a fancy way of saying how many thousands of feet the plane is above sea level.
"Just add a couple of zeroes. Flight level three-three zero is 33,000 feet," he explained.
Used in a sample sentence: "We're just finishing up some last-minute paperwork and should be underway shortly."
Definition: For many of us, this announcement is a precursor to a delay. According to Smith, this "paperwork" is usually a revision of the flight plan, something to do with the plane's weight-and-balance record, or simply waiting for the maintenance staff to get the flight's logbook in order.
Used in a sample sentence: "Sorry, folks, but there's a ground stop on all flights headed south from here."
Definition: "The point when departures to one or more destinations are curtailed by air-traffic control, usually due to a traffic backlog," Smith wrote.
Definition: A colloquial term for a jolt of turbulence.
Used in a sample sentence: "Due to an equipment change, departure for Heathrow is delayed three hours."
Definition: The airplane. "Is there not something strange about the refusal to call the focal object of the entire industry by its real name?" Smith wrote.
"First Officer (Co-Pilot)."
Definition: The first officer or co-pilot is the second in command of the plane and sits on the right side of the cockpit wearing three stripes on his or her shoulder.
"He or she is fully qualified to operate the aircraft in all stages of flight, including takeoffs and landings, and does so in alternating turns with the captain," Smith wrote.
Used in a sample sentence: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are now on our final approach into Miami."
Definition: "For pilots, an airplane is on final approach when it has reached the last, straight-in segment of the landing pattern — that is, aligned with the extended centerline of the runway, requiring no additional turns or maneuvering," Smith wrote. "Flight attendants speak of final approach on their own more general terms, in reference to the latter portion of the descent."
Definition: According to Smith, a pilot or flight attendant who is deadheading onboard a flight is one who is traveling to a destination to be repositioned as part of an on-duty assignment.
"This is not the same as commuting to work or engaging in personal travel," he clarified.
Definition: Whether or not a flight is "direct" has nothing to do with how many stops it makes on the way to the destination. Instead, a direct flight is defined as a routing where the flight number does not change.
"This is a carryover from the days when flights between major cities routinely made intermediate stops, sometimes several of them," Smith wrote.
Definition: A flight that doesn't make any stops along the way.
Used in a sample sentence: "We're sorry, your suitcase was crushed by a 747 out on the ramp."
Definition: The ramp is the area closest to the terminal where planes and vehicles are active such as the aircraft parking zones.
Again, this is a relic from the early days of aviation. "In the early days of aviation, many aircraft were amphibious seaplanes or floatplanes. If a plane wasn't flying, it was either in the water or it was 'on the ramp,'" Smith wrote.
"Final and immediate boarding call."
Definition: "A flamboyant way of telling slow-moving passengers to get their asses in gear," Smith wrote. "It provides more urgency than just 'final call' or 'last call.'"
"Area of weather."
Used in a sample sentence: "Due to an area of weather over New Jersey, we'll be turning southbound toward Philadelphia."
Definition: According to Smith, this usually means a thunderstorm or a zone of heavy precipitation.
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The plane is parked
Ever notice hear a crew member tell you to stay in your seat until the plane reaches the terminal, only to see the seatbelt sign turn off almost immediately? The captain turns the seat belt sign off when the plane is parked, but that doesn’t mean passengers should start getting up, says Hutcheson. “Although the aircraft is at a standstill and passengers believe that it is safe to get up and start getting their bags, the aircraft could still move unexpectedly, which could result in passengers injuring themselves,” she says.