Galley Gossip: Hanging business class coats (it’s just a flight attendant thing)

Quickly I walk to gate 40B dressed in navy blue polyester, a tall latte in one hand, pulling my suitcase on wheels with the other hand. I flash the crew ID hanging around my neck at the frazzled agent manning the counter. Even though she’s sorting out a problem with a passenger, she crosses my name off a list and barks over her shoulder “We’re going to board in ten minutes!” I punch in the security code and swing the heavy jet bridge door open. Down the long ramp I go where the 767 awaits.

The first thing I do is introduce myself to the crew. “Hi, I’m Heather. I think we may have flown together before…a long time ago. I’m working in business.”

Each of my coworkers will then tell me their name, whether or not they think we’ve flown together, shared a Kew Gardens cab or hung out around the pool on a layover…a long time ago, followed by the cabin they’re working in.

After I stow my bags in my official crew bag storage location (an overhead bin in coach), I check my emergency equipment to make sure it’s there and working. Then I do something the others on my crew will not do, something I always do five minutes after I board the aircraft. I head straight for the closet and count the hangers. Why? Because I’m hanger girl. Regardless of the time of year, there are always coats to be hung in business class and the last thing I want to do is run out of hangers, which is why I count – one through fifteen – just in case I need to call cabin service for more.

Over the years I have become quite obsessed with the number of hangers we have on board the aircraft. Maybe it’s because I usually get stuck working in business class, the most junior position on the airplane, and hanging thirty black and blue coats during boarding is my least favorite thing to do. There’s nothing worse than being trapped between business class and coach with thirty adult passengers standing in front of their cushy business class seats looking at me as if I’m not doing my job.

“Can you take this!” they often say, impatiently waving a coat at me.


“I’ll be there in a second!” I always reply, forcing a smile, as passengers slowly, slowly, one by one, file past me to get to their seats in coach. Though I can’t force my way upstream, not without pushing passengers out of my way, I’m always ready to do my job, black plastic hanger in hand.

Today we only have fifteen hangers for thirty business class passengers. But that’s okay, because if we double hang the coats (one on top of the other) we can make it work – no problem. So I divide them in half – seven for my coworker and eight for me – and place them in the seat back pocket of the last row in business class. Why? Because I’m hanger girl. It’s just my thing.

Every flight attendant has their thing.

While James is obsessed with those thin squares of foam (that separate the dry ice from the beer and wine) that he’ll use to line the inserts full of cups, napkins and sugar, making it look so nice and neat, Blake expects his first and business class mugs to be warmed at all times – not just for the dessert service, and no one in the system cracks ice like Jay – even after I’ve already cracked it because I’m working the galley, not Jay. If Dale is on your flight you will never, ever, run out of paper towels in the lavatory. Louise always makes sure we never run out of trash bags. That’s because she doesn’t dare leave the galley without a bag in hand for fear she might actually have to touch the trash. And Diane, who can’t stay awake on the all-nighters, makes a point to always have freshly brewed coffee as well as cartons of warmed milk (taken from first class) to serve in coach. She also double bags it. That’s why I drink her coffee.

Double bagging – the act of using two coffee packets for one pot of coffee on the airplane. Mostly found on international routes. By the way, since we’re on the subject, I always double bag my hotel coffee – the decaf and the regular. Just in case you wanted to know

So tell me, all you amazing flight attendants out there, what’s your thing – and why? I’m not talking about what you don’t like, I’m talking about what you do, that little something special, to make sure the flight runs smoothly. I’d love to hear all about it.

Photo courtesy of (mug) Bliss