A flight attendant has revealed new secrets of the trade in an anonymous interview with Vice.
"Betty" says nobody switches off their phones on planes, not even the staff.
There's also an ideal time for joining the mile high club — but there's never a good time to order coffee in the sky.
She added that there's only one way of scoring an upgrade, and it's all about your bargaining power.
There's something intriguing about the life of airline crew. Maybe it's the pristine uniform, the jet-setting lifestyle, or the secret codes and signs. But people in the industry often claim that the job is nowhere near as glamorous as it might appear.
Flight attendant's secrets you didn't know
Flight attendant's secrets you didn't know
Nobody turns off their phone
First off, if you've ever wondered if everybody really does abide by the "airplane mode" rule, the answer is not at all, according to Betty.
"Nobody turns off their phones. I don’t, even," she told Vice.
"All of those commands are really just precautionary. You’re not allowed to get up when taxiing to the gate, but we’re going three miles an hour. What’s actually going to happen?"
She added: "I guess at some point, something had to have happened for them to have made the rule. At least, that’s the bulls*** excuse they gave us during training. Some time at some point someone did get hurt.
"I mean, I push it. I don’t always wear my seatbelt. Actually, one time I didn’t wear it, the landing was pretty rough and I jerked forward and hit my head so I felt like a bit of an a****** there.
"Yeah, but keep your phone on. No one cares."
If you want to join the mile high club, do it during food or drink service
For passengers looking to have a little fun while aboard, Betty said there's a specific time that's best for attempting to join the mile high club, at least on small airplanes.
"Wait for service, when the attendants are all in the aisle," she said. "Everyone’s busy and has a job at that point and I don’t care what’s going on behind me then. There could be ten people in the bathroom and I wouldn’t be aware of it."
This probably wouldn't work on a jumbo jet, though, where she says there are cabin crew dedicated to patrolling the toilets.
"[F]or shorter flights, the attendants aren’t watching you like you think we are. We’re on our phones in the back with the others or doing our jobs. We don’t want to be near that bathroom at any point in time and we’ll avoid it at all costs.
However, she added: "God speed if you’re gonna try and have sex in one. They’re disgusting and small, but it is possible."
On the subject of loos, she's also not impressed by the way passengers use them.
A plane bathroom is the 'most disgusting place on the planet'...
"It’s crazy how dirty people are on planes," she said "Those bathrooms are the most disgusting places on the planet. There’s no way these people act this way in their normal lives, but they get on a plane and go cool, I’ll just pee all over the floor and dump my peanuts right on the ground."
...and the coffee could be swimming with E. coli
And according to Betty, there's another disgusting aspect of flying, besides the toilets.
"Coffee. Don’t drink the coffee on airplanes," she said. "It’s the same potable water that goes through the bathroom system.
"We recently had a test for E. coli in our water and it didn’t pass, and then maintenance came on and hit a couple buttons and it passed," she went on. "So, avoid any hot water or tea. Bottled and ice is fine, of course."
Annoying passengers get ignored
When it comes to passengers, if one really gets on her nerves, she has a few methods of dealing with them.
"Usually, I spend the majority of my time just ignoring them. You don’t really have much to work with so it becomes a power play.
"I try to assert myself as much as possible and let them know I’m the boss by not giving them their orange juice with ice or giving it to them with ice if they asked for no ice. Weak pours for drinks, stuff like that."
She added that when it comes to killing time on a long, boring flight she'll often play "who I would save first."
"Like in the instance of an emergency landing. Obviously get the kids off first and all that.
"You spend a lot of time daydreaming, a lot of time staring at your passengers and mentally putting them in situations with you that would never happen."
A free upgrade is can be as simple as giving the crew candy
And finally, it wouldn't be an airline interview without asking that one burning question everyone wants to know: how to score a free upgrade.
Her answer? Just be extra nice to the crew once the doors have closed.
"Give me candy and I’ll give you whatever you want," she said. "You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
"If there [are] seats open in business class, and it’s not going to affect me negatively, or there are first class seats open and I can still eat my first class meal if I put you up there, I’ll put you up there. As long as you’re nice to me, no problem."
Oh — and they apparently "don’t keep count of those mini bottles of alcohol."
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Confirming this fact is a flight attendant at a "major American airline" who revealed some fantastically funny — and disgusting — truths about life in the air in an anonymous interview with Vice.
Speaking under the pseudonym "Betty," she gave an honest account of some of the unfortunate realities occurring behind the scenes.
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.