Before you read this post you have to take a minute and read Christopher Elliott’s post, “Do Flight Attendants Really Hate Us?” So go on…and then come back please.

When exactly did passengers stop caring about us?

I ask for two reasons: First, because of the luscious new trailers for the upcoming TV show Pan Am, which depicts passengers dressed in their Sunday best-yes, that’s what they did back then-dressed for travel.

Hard to swallow, that one. But, yes, they dressed to travel back in the day.

And, second, because of the preponderance of horror stories from the news that suggest things have gone too far in the other direction. That far from the “please, thank you, and may I” stereotypes of pre-deregulation air travel, modern day airline passengers actually hate us.

Well, “hate” may be too strong a word.

How about “strongly dislike”?

Consider this flight attendant survey of the 10 worst passenger behaviors.

  1. Not turning off electronic devices when asked
  2. bringing bags so heavy they can’t lift them and then expecting flight attendants to do it for them
  3. poking, grabbing or hitting a flight attendant to get their attention
  4. taking their shoes off and putting their bare feet on the bulk head wall
  5. changing baby diapers on tray tables
  6. handing a dirty baby diaper to a flight attendant and then getting mad when flight attendant doesn’t take it.
  7. first class passengers using hot towels in place of a shower, ie, clean feet and underarms
  8. not taking their earphones out when a flight attendant is asking them a question, usually “what would you like to drink?”
  9. blowing their nose and handing the flight attendant the tissue
  10. clipping nails on tray tables

That’s the top ten. You have to work pretty hard to pull in that kind of performance, and it can only happen with the loss of civility.

But, it’s the stories from crew like you that make me wonder if the love has turned to hate. And, I’m not even talking about the head-grabbing reports like Sandy (Robert) Vietze who earned the nation’s ire this week for peeing on a sleeping 11-year-old girl while aboard a JetBlue flight or Gerard Deepardieu allegedly relieving himself in the aisle of a plane.

A flight attendant was doing her job aboard an American Airlines flight when she noticed a passenger, Jonathon Baez wasn’t buckled up.

She tried to get Mr. Baez to comply with FAA regulations, but he was uncooperative and appeared to be intoxicated. The captain was notified and made the decision to remove Jonathon from the airplane.

On the way off Jonathon and his brother allegedly threatened the pilot that if he ever flew to San Juan he would have him killed.

Not the end of the story as Mr, Baez decided to return to the plane and punched the pilot and struck the flight attendant.

Then there’s the airlines that tell their story of pilfering passengers and their callousness. Gail Todd a freelance writer who used to be a flight attendant tells us her tale, “Several years ago, on a flight from St. Louis to Seattle, I had a first-class passenger (I mean that only as a seat designation) ask to keep a silver spoon. When I told her we weren’t in the souvenir business, she snapped, “Next time I’ll just take it!”

Or how about Kyle Pierce? The passenger that allegedly decided to join the mile high club single handedly?

I get stories like these on an almost daily basis, from passengers who refuse to comply with the rules set forth by the FAA, to customers just being indifferent or just plane rude.

As you can imagine, passengers see this differently. Some say flight attendants are too demanding, insisting on polite behavior and smaller carry on bags.

“Somehow, people still compare us today with how things were in the 1950s and 1960s and then are upset when those expectations aren’t met,” passenger Mike Smith says. “These programs, such as the upcoming ‘Pan Am’ TV series and movies like ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and ‘View From the Top’ portray a level of behavior in the industry that simply hasn’t existed for decades.”

Smith told me the average passenger loves to fly and is happy to comply “within reason.”

When you combine the airlines’ need to cut costs and salaries and employees having the expectation that since they are not getting paid enough, the flight attendant doesn’t have to put up with passenger abuse, it’s bound to end up a recipe for disaster,” he says. “And at 30,000 feet there is very little a passenger can do to fix some of these issues other than say “please” and “thank you” and hope for a “your welcome” from the flight attendant.”

One other thing: Passengers are under a great deal of stress because of increased waiting at security lines, continually changing rules, less amenities, less leg room and more crowded aircraft. But Smith agrees that there’s never a reason to forget your manners.

I agree. I think there are plenty of reason for the passengers to be unhappy, but none to be impolite. I’m especially troubled by a saying that’s used a lot, most privately, among passengers: “I’m not turning it off, it doesn’t interfere with the flight!”

If the “manners” element had actually been stripped out of the passenger’s behavior, then why not let monkeys fly? Wouldn’t they do a far more efficient job of complying with the rules set forth?

No, I don’t think all passengers hate us. But too many of them seem to, according to flight attendants.

That’s no way to fly.

Questions? Want to know how much I actually do love my passengers? (because I do…And, I actually still serve passengers on the plane with my fellow flight attendants too…shocking:)) Visit me on Facebook/theflyingpintoblog or twitter @theflyingpinto



  1. PlanePrincess @ 2011-08-19 07:48

    BRAVO!!!!! No other words needed 🙂

  2. […] Flight Attendant Blog >> Do Passengers Really Hate Us: A Parody […]

  3. I don’t hate you! I love you guys! I wouldn’t do your job for all the tea in China! I admire and salute you.

    Mind you, it isn’t just you. I once, for my sins, worked in customer relations, these things happen on terra firma too. It does, however, boil down to the same thing, lack of respect or empathy for other people, lack of social education, increase in the “I am entitled” culture. Also it isn’t confined to one nationality it happens the world over.

    Sad but true. Keep up the good work though!

  4. Michael Hengler @ 2011-08-19 13:35

    I have the utmost respect for Flight Attendants. It isn’t an easy job and cabin crew take a lot of unneccesary guff from ill mannered passengers who believe, falsely, they are superior and entitled. Flight Attendants keep passengers safe and aren’t there to be servants.

  5. The Flying Pinto @ 2011-08-19 13:58

    Thanks everyone! I’m really feeling the love today! And, I love my readers too! Cheers!!

  6. starflyergold @ 2011-08-19 14:02

    Excellent post. What appears to be lacking is civility on both sides, pax are stressed from airport experience and airline gauging. FA are being asked to implement nonsensical rules by their employers or regulatory authorities.

    If everyone, both pax and FAs, would use reason and not resort to “I behave the way I want to because I paid” or “these are the rules” everyone would have a better flight.

    Happy landings

  7. Kimberly @ 2011-08-20 18:38

    FA’s have hard jobs. Passengers are stressed. People tend to remember the worst of a situation. Example I remember handing back package of prezles to an FA, explaining that I was allergic to the peanut oil in them. I did not want want to just throw them away, & they were unopen. I would have understood if she had said that they had to thrown away, because of rules about food safety. A rant about how “people like you just shouldn’t fly instead of expecting special accommodations”

    I was not the only one offended. When I went up to the desk, I found out that several others had complained about the way I was treated and a couple other problems.

    But I also remember a flight were I developed a raging sinus headache & a FA found me some sudafed. (mine was damaged by a bottle that leaked in my carryon.) Then there was the FA that chased down my family, because she found my Dad’s wallet on the floor of the plane. The crew member that made sure my Mom was met by a cart when she was having trouble walking.

    The good is far more frequent than the bad.

  8. That was a good venting, but I think you held back! I’m not in the industry, but am a frequent flyer and I’ve seen some of these things first hand, and I think you left out some.

    That photo is so accurate! I was appalled when I saw first class passengers living like pigs next to me, exactly as shown, including the bare feet on the bulkhead.

    I live in Japan, and the passengers are not at all like the Americans, they have manners. One thing they do differently is climb up in their seats to get to the overhead bins, but Japanese always take their shoes off for that. That’s because they are so short.

    I’m rambling. Thanks for the interesting post. I hope you get passengers like myself who do say “please” and “thank you” and do take off their headphones when you’re talking to me (even if it’s just one ear. And I smile too!

  9. SJThespian @ 2011-08-22 14:06

    I’ve talked to more flight attendants over the years than I can count about this very issue. Personally I think it’s a combination of the average passenger thinking (very mistakingly) that the flight attendant is their personal servant. It’s even worse in business/first class since an awful lot of those passengers seem to have a feeling of entitlement. Taking a walk through the cabin after an international flight makes you think that the plane was carrying pigs instead of people! Admittedly, in a lot of cases there isn’t much difference…

    Just how hard is it to pick up your newspaper instead of leaving it strewn across the floor? Hand that empty water bottle to an FA instead of leaving it in the seat back pocket or dropping it on the floor. Heck, I have even been known to refold my blanket! It’s not that hard and what else do you have to do during that last 20 mins of flight after you turn off the laptop you’ve been glued to for the past 8 hours?

  10. Until a few week ago I was passenger service agent. Now after several years of that I am a ramp attendant. My last shift I was on grooming duties and I had to clean up a large plane. I do not remember you being there, Sara, but I swear that photo you posted at the beginning of the post was exactly what I saw in the first row of the second cabin.

    The garbage of the same nature, strewn around in that manner, even the “it is liking they were trying to make it harder” way in which the blanket was left was the same.

    As a pax agent I would hear the passengers complaints about FAs once the plane landed. I would always pass on contact info for the customer relations people and encourage it and apologise if they seemed legitimate. Kimberly, if I heard your story I would have called someone myself to make sure they followed up. However, I must say most complaints and most behaviours in making them were so questionable that I just politely gave out the number and did nothing else other than think “Good thing I am not a flight attendant.”

  11. If only there was a way to get rid of the us against them mentality and that goes both ways for passengers and the FA’s. Also people need to keep in mind back in the day there were several FA’s to every 20 or so PAX now you have 1 to every 50 PAX not a great way to provide great service esp. if you only have 50 minutes for the flight. that is less than 60 seconds per person to try and wow them with your “service”