19 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Flight Attendants

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Even if it’s true that flight attendants have seen and heard it all, there are still a lot of things that can annoy them on a daily basis. There’s nothing that can surprise them anymore, some would think.

Flight attendants are professionally trained and very experienced, they’re there to serve you and make your flight easier, but if you treat them inappropriately or say something offensive to them, don’t be surprised if they’ll give you the side-eye.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our whole lives and made things even more stressful for flight attendants, who obviously can’t practice social distancing during a flight. Considering that flight attendants take a risk with their health just because they have to keep you safe during your flight, it seems only fair that you won’t say these 19 things to them!


1. “Can you help me get my bag up?”

As Candace Johnson, a flight attendant for the American Airlines during the late 1970s and early 1980s likes to say, if you’re not able to lift your own carry-on, then you shouldn’t consider it a carry-on.

A flight attendant isn’t there to store your bags in the overhead lockers for you, and now more than ever, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it isn’t safe for them (or for yourself) to touch your luggage.

“Like you, flight attendants are trying to minimize transmission of COVID-19,” Johnson explains. “Each time they touch a surface, the risk of spreading the virus increases.”

To put it another way, only bring with you on your flight what you can comfortably manage to carry on your own, so you won’t find yourself in the situation of asking flight attendants to do something that will put their health in danger.


2. “Do I really have to wear my mask for the whole flight?”

The answer is yes, wearing a mask is a must for both passengers and flight attendants, the only exception is when you’re eating or drinking. Moreover, the mask should cover both your nose and your mouth. Passengers often complain about having to wear it the entire flight and how uncomfortable it is, and that really angers Bridget, a flight attendant who pointed out that “So many people are wearing masks for much longer.”

Additionally, many people are wearing it while also working and breathing hard. She also shared an incident with us where a passenger (he wasn’t wearing a mask) came (very close) to her and he was complaining about another passenger who wasn’t wearing a mask either.

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3. “Why can’t I change seats if the plane isn’t full?”

The coronavirus pandemic has changed every little aspect of our lives, including the way we travel. In order to make traveling by plane safer for both staff and passengers, airlines have introduced “seat blocking” protocols, which means leaving an empty seat between passengers as a social distancing measure.

As long as this practice continues, passengers have no other choice than obeying the rules. Moreover, you shouldn’t be moving along the plane to search for a better seat, says Bidget. It’s important for the passengers to remember that the seating has been carefully organized for social distancing in order to keep you safe. If you change seats, you ruin the whole plan, plus, you put everyone in that plane in danger.

Now that you know this, make sure you don’t ask the flight attendant for permission to move to another seat because the answer is still going to be “no,” no matter how nicely you ask. Even more, every time yo you get in contact with the flight attendant or other passenger, you’re putting their health (and yourself) at risk.


4. “You don’t have COVID, do you?”

“You may think this is funny, but it isn’t,” Johnson points out. “Flight attendants, like all airline employees, are doing everything they can to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
Flight attendants have a hard job these days, considering that they come in contact with hundreds of people a day, plus, they’re taking all the measures in order to keep the passengers safe.

“Asking if your flight attendant has COVID implies a lack of professionalism. It’s insulting and disrespectful. So, please, just don’t.”


5. Please keep any kind of joke regarding the coronavirus to yourself

There are some things you should never do while traveling by plane in general. Now, because of COVID-19, you can add to that list any kind of joke about having or carrying coronavirus, unless you’d want to be thrown off the plane in case your flight hasn’t taken off.

You can’t expect people to know if you’re joking or not, that’s why it would be better to keep those jokes to yourself. Moreover, if you make these kinds of jokes while the plane is up in the air, it might even get diverted to the nearest airport where the plane can safely land, and you’ll be escorted off.


6. “It fit on my last flight…”

“One of my favorites was the passengers who insisted that the oversized bags they were trying to stuff under a seat or into an overhead bin should be allowed on board as a carry-on because ‘it fit on my last flight,’” says Johnson. “No, it doesn’t because it didn’t. Now go check that bag and stop wasting our time.”


7. Don’t ask the flight attendant to babysit

As I said before, flight attendants are there to serve you and make your flight easier and more enjoyable, however, they aren’t babysitters or nannies. So no, it’s not appropriate to ask a flight attendant to watch your children, and even if you do, they should never agree to do that.

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8. “You should smile!”

A flight attendant’s job is to serve the passengers and to be prepared for any flight-related emergencies that might happen. In addition, even if they may serve food and beverages, they’re not waiting staff, it’s just that the services are extremely limited on the plane.

Moreover, they are not there to entertain you or to make you laugh, so asking a flight attendant to smile is just rude and will definitely annoy them, Johnson says. “Would you go to anyone else’s job and tell them to smile?”


9. “Can you give me a massage?”

“I met a number of famous people while working, and most were polite and appreciative,” Johnson recalls, “but the grossest one I met was the CEO of a famous catalog company who was flying in first class and asked me for a foot massage after his dinner.”


10. “Funny name…”

“My nickname is Candie—that’s what my name tag read,” says Johnson. For some passengers, that’s an invitation to jokes. “I lost track of how many male passengers told me, ‘Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.’” She smiled at them and at their stupid jokes just to make the moment a little less awkward than it was. Don’t ever do that, is inappropriate.


11. “Isn’t there going to be a meal?”

“When I was flying in the ’70s and ’80s, passengers expected full meal services,” Johnson tells Reader’s Digest. “Over the years, the food-service model has changed drastically, with limited snacks available in coach for purchase on longer flights, and only beverage services on shorter flights and those during off-peak times.”

And now because of COVID-19, the food-service changed, even more, she adds, with “airlines experimenting with various options to limit contact between flight attendants and passengers.”
Moreover, you shouldn’t argue with the flight attendants, because they have no say in what food or beverages are served or when. Johnson suggests that it would be better for everyone if you’d keep these thoughts to yourself. This leaves you with two options: you either eat before boarding, or you pack your own food and beverages with you.

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12. “Stewardess!”

Both males and females can be flight attendants, so calling them “stewardess” is no longer acceptable in this day and age. Calling a flight attendant a stewardess is not appropriate, it something like lighting up a cigarette on a plane, in the middle of a flight.


13. “Will I make my connection?”

And the list of silly questions can go on… You shouldn’t ask flight attendants questions they have no answer to, like “Will I ever get married?” or “How old I’ll be when I die?” Asking them if and when your flight will arrive, is kind of the same thing. They can’t predict whether the plane will land or arrive in time for you to make your connection. Especially if the plane is still on the tarmac.


14. “Just one minute…”

No one has one minute to wait for you to turn off your device, to step out of the aisle, or return to your seat. If they ask you to do something, is because you should do it now.


15. “Did you hear the one about the hijacker?”

I know I’ve mentioned inappropriate jokes before, the same thing goes for this one. Terrorism and other threats are serious subjects which you shouldn’t ever joke about, especially on a plane.
Moreover, flight attendants have been trained to follow certain protocols when seeing or hearing something disturbing, even if it’s in a joking manner. Nonetheless, better not making those types of jokes, not even to your seatmate, even if you’d think they’ll laugh at your joke.

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16. “Are you free after the flight?”

There’s little to no chance that a flight attendant will be free after a flight, as most of the time they are off to another destination or desperately needing a good sleep. Even if they might be polite and smile at you, don’t misinterpret that as a flirting sign, because it’s not.


17. “Can I borrow a pen?”

Do you assume that flight attendants carry several pens with them? And if she lends you one, what are the odds of you giving it back? So no, they do not carry extra pens for every passenger and they certainly can’t help every international passenger fill out their customs forms.


18. Don’t argue with them

The stories you’ve heard are definitely true, so this being said, better not threat or argue with the gate agent, flight attendants or other passengers, unless you’d want to be denied access or banned from the airline. That’s why it’s better not to take chances if you want to arrive at your destination on time.


19. Please don’t DING!

The “call-bell” is not there for you to press it whenever you need another drink or want to know when you’ll be landing. Try using that bell only in case of emergency or when it’s something important. Of course, they’ll come every time you press it, but you can be damn sure they’re rolling their eyes too.

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