Galley Gossip: Flight attendant pet peeve #6 – The run around

My job as a flight attendant is to be there in case of an emergency. Until then, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure your flight runs as smoothly as possible. That’s why I’m there. That’s my job. And while I enjoy my job tremendously, there are a few things that annoy me.

Scott Carmichael touched on one of those things in his recent post, 10 passengers we love to hate: Day 8 – passengers who misuse the flight attendant call button. Whenever someone abuses the call light, I often times wonder if I’m unknowingly on an episode of Punk’d. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when passengers use their call lights, it’s there for a reason, but there is a limit as to how many times you should use it. Fifteen times on a three hour flight is a bit much, don’t ya think?

Another thing I find a bit much is when passengers can’t seem to get it together, passengers who have a tendency to run me ragged, passengers who treat me like their own personal slave assistant. Here’s an example of what not to do on a flight…

We’ve just finished the service and that’s when I hear it – DING! Immediately I look up at the flight attendant panel and see that a passenger on the right hand side of the aircraft is calling. I step into the aisle, scan the cabin, and when I locate the light, I begin walking toward the single orange glow.

I reach up, push the button, and the light turns off. “Is there something I can get for you?”

“Diet Coke,” you say, and because you’re asking so soon after the service is over, I assume you were asleep when we came through the aisle with our carts.

“Sure, I’ll be right back.” To the rear of the aircraft and into the galley I go. I grab a plastic cup, a can of soda, and a napkin. Then I head back to your seat, placing it all on the tray table in front of you.


Two seconds later I hear it again – DING! It’s you. I walk to your seat and ask if you need something else. You nod. “Is there anything to eat on board?”

“Of course!” I rattle off a list of snacks and the price per each snack.

“I’ll take the sandwich.”

“Good choice.” I make my way to the galley and grab a turkey sandwich, a couple more napkins, and then head to your seat again. “That’s going to be-“

“Do you have any complimentary pretzels or nuts?”

“I’m sorry, but we only have snacks for sale. We do offer a bag of mixed nuts for $3.”

“Can I take a look?” you ask as you unwrap the plastic around your sandwich, drop the bread onto a napkin, wad it up, and hand it over to me.

Okay. With the discarded bread in my hand, I make my way to the back of the aircraft, toss it into the trash, grab a bag of nuts, and two seconds later I’m standing at your row. “Here ya go.”

Slowly but surely the bag is inspected. You shake your head and hand it back. “I’ll just take the sandwich.” You point to the overhead bin. “Can you hand me my bag? My wallet’s inside.”

I pop open the bin and pull down the bag down, but because you’re not ready to take it, I continue to hold it as you rearrange the items on your table. As I’m waiting, waiting, waiting, you ask, “Can I get another blanket?”

“I’ll see if I can find you another one,” I say, emphasizing the word another since you’ve got two already, one of which I gave to you earlier in flight. I’m still holding onto the bag with one hand as I begin to open and close overhead bins with the other. There are no extra blankets to be found and that’s exactly what I tell you. “Sorry,” I add, because I am sorry, sorry I’m always saying sorry.

“Great,” you mumble, rolling your eyes, taking the bag, and dismissing me by placing your headphones back in your ears.

Ten minutes later I’m walking down the aisle. When I get to yourseat, I collect your trash without saying a word. I’m just two rows away when I hear it again – DING! I lean back and ask, “Yes?”

Silently you hand me a single napkin, store your tray table, and without taking your eyes off the movie screen, ask for a glass of water.

“Certainly.” I look at my watch. Just three hours and twenty two minutes to go.


Galley Gossip: Flight attendant pet peeve #5 – You’re still here?

I’m wearing the blue polyester dress, you know the one, and I’m standing two rows behind you, an arm draped over a seat, a hand gripping the plastic handle of my Travelpro bag. When the lights are turned to bright, I turn around and look at my coworker, and without uttering a word, our eyes say everything that can possibly be said.

Finally you step into the aisle, look at me, and then smile, so I smile at you, and while I’m smiling I watch you dig around inside three different seat back pockets.

“Thanks for a nice flight,” says a voice over the PA, and just like that the voice is gone, along with the rest of the passengers, and crew. It’s just me, my coworker, and you.

When it comes to the deplaning process, there are three types of passengers…

THE ME FIRST PASSENGER: Jumps out of the seat before the seat belt sign has been turned off. If there are other me first passengers standing in the aisle, they will push each other out of the way in order to be the first me first passenger off of the airplane. Don’t you know the first one on should always be the first one off, even when he’s sitting in business, not first.

THE NORMAL PASSENGER: Waits patiently in the seat until the passengers sitting a few rows ahead stand. At this point the normal passenger gathers their belongings, and when the time comes, steps into the aisle, grabs the suitcase out of the bin, and begins to walk to the front of the airplane, not once breaking the rhythmic deplaning flow. Thankfully most passengers are normal passengers – when it comes to getting off the airplane.

THE I’VE GOT ALL DAY (AND NIGHT) PASSENGER – I do hope this is not you. Granted, you are very nice, and quite polite, a dream passenger really, and I did have a wonderful time talking to you in the galley, but the time has come to say goodbye, so buh-bye. Adios time. Look, it’s not forever, we can do this again, but at another time, on a different flight. So go, please, now! No offense, don’t mean to be rude, but the layover is short!

Again I turn around and look at my fellow coworker who is looking at her watch. “Nine hours and twenty minutes,” she mumbles, shaking her head.

Remember, this nine hour and twenty minute layover includes the hour I will get ready for work in the morning, as well as the twenty minutes I need to take the hotel van back to the airport and make my way through security. Which means the layover is more like eight hours. Don’t forget that eight hours includes the ten minute van ride to the hotel tonight, as well as the amount of time it will take the van to get to the airport in order to take us to the hotel, not to mention the time it takes to check-in once we’re at the hotel, after we get in line behind you. Which means that eight hour layover is starting to look more like seven. If you leave now.

While I continue to stand there, waiting, still waiting, I’m wondering why you are just now reaching for your luggage in the overhead bin, and why little Johnny does not have his shoes on, and why your wife or husband or whoever it is you are traveling with is now on all fours looking under the seat, not your group of seats, but three rows ahead, and why oh why are you now standing on the armrest to get a better look into that empty overhead bin?

“I think we’ve got it all,” you say, but before I can breath a sigh of relief, you place your suitcase on the ground and unzip your rollaboard. “You don’t have to wait on us, because we’ll probably be a few more minutes here.”

I’d leave if I could, but I can’t, so I don’t, which is why I’m still standing there, one arm still draped over the seat, a hand still gripping, gripping, gripping the plastic handle of my Travelpro, as a swarm of cabin cleaners make their way to the back of the airplane. That’s when I think I hear, “Mind if I use the bathroom?”

“Oh…umm…sure.” I struggle to move my wheelie bag sideways so you can get by, and as you pass me by, I find myself wondering why? Why here? There’s a much cleaner bathroom in the terminal. Why now? The flight was five and a half hours long. Why me? Don’t answer that!

Okay, here’s what I don’t get. You came to the airport at least an hour before departure, waited in line at security, and then found a place to pick up a few snacks where you had to wait in line to pay, before heading over to the gate area to wait your turn to board. Once on the aircraft, you waited to takeoff, and after we finally took off, a few minutes late, you found yourself waiting for a drink. After enjoying your adult beverage of choice, you spent a very long time waiting to land, and while you waited five hours for this bird to touch ground, you may have found yourself waiting in line to use the lavatory. Eventually we land and you wait your turn to deplane, very patiently, a little too patiently. You’ve finally gotten your things in order, and little Johnny is wearing his shoes, and your wife or husband or whoever it is you are traveling with is no longer crawling around on the floor, so what, exactly, are you waiting for now?

You sling a heavy bag over your shoulder. “I think we’re ready.”

I smile, and this smile is for real, and together we walk to the front of the aircraft. At least I think we’re walking to the front of the aircraft, because you stop, turn around, and look at me. “Mind if I double check one more time to make sure I have everything?”

“Oh…umm…sure, go ahead,” I say, struggling once more to move my wheelie bag sideways, and as you pass me by, I find myself wondering why?


Galley Gossip: Flight Attendant Pet Peeve #4 – Turn around, go that way!

“Hello. How are you? Welcome aboard,” I say, and I say this as I’m standing between first class and coach while passengers board the airplane and slowly make their way down the aisle. That’s when I spot you standing at your row with your bag sitting on an aisle seat as you stare up at the overhead bin, a full overhead bin, and shake your head.

“Hello. How are you? Welcome aboard,” I say, as you continue staring into the full overhead bin above your seat, and as you stare, still shaking your head, I already know what you’re going to say before you even say it, and while I wait for you to say it, I continue to greet the passengers during the boarding process. “Hello. How are you? Welcome aboard.”

Though I can’t make out the words, I see you’re talking to those seated around you, pointing aggressively at your seat, at the overhead bin, back at your seat again, and as you begin to make a scene, a very loud one, you turn and look at me.

“Hello. How are you? Welcome aboard,” I say, and as I say this, I’m thinking to myself, here we go, and I’m wondering, as I’ve wondered thousands of times before, why you can’t just turn around and put the bag inside the empty overhead bin behind you, the one located three rows back. You see it. I see it. We all see it. So why don’t you use it? You can use it, ya know.

Waving your hands in the air at me, you say, “Excuse me, Miss! Can you help me!”

Of course. I slide in behind a passenger and slowly make my way down the aisle. You look very concerned, so I smile at you, but you don’t smile back. You never do. Now this is about to go one of three ways, depending on how often you fly…

YOU RARELY FLY: “There are bags in MY overhead bin!”

YOU FLY A COUPLE TIMES A YEAR: “Can you help me find a place for my bag?”

YOU’RE A FREQUENT FLIER: “Can I put my bag up there?” (pointing to first class)

ME: “I’m sorry,” I always say, no matter how often you fly, because I am, truly, sorry – sorry I have to say sorry all day long! “But you’re going to have to use the bin three rows back.” I point at the bin. “I’d grab it quick before someone else does.” Now the next thing I’m going to say depends on how often you fly, and usually goes something like this..

YOU RARELY FLY: Look, I know it’s frustrating when the overhead bin above your seat is full, but the overhead bin space is shared space. That means anyone can use it. You. Him. Her. Everyone. Yes, you bought the seat below the bin, but you did not buy the bin.

YOU FLY A COUPLE TIMES A YEAR: If I could move some things around I would, but the bin is completely full already and there’s no way your bag is going to fit. I know it’s not fair! Particularly if you’ve only brought on-board one small bag, which I see is the case, but I can’t go POOF and make all the other bags disappear now can I?

YOU’RE A FREQUENT FLIER: There’s no need to show me your frequent flier card. Trust me, I already know you’re a VIP, which is why you’re sitting in the bulkhead row in the first place. You know as well as I do that first class is full (or else you’d be sitting there) and I can’t let you use that empty bin, not when we’re still waiting for a few first class passengers to board. Now I’m pretty sure you already know why, but since you’re still arguing with me I’ll spell it out. Because when you spend that kind of money to sit in first class, like you normally do, you expect to find an empty bin when you come on-board, too.

Ridiculous, my least favorite word a passenger can say, has just been used, and as that word is spat at me I see something happen that I knew was going to happen. Someone has just thrown their bags, two of them, into the empty overhead bin three rows back.

Now it is I who shakes my head, because you, dear passenger, will have to walk five rows back to get your bag into a bin, and as I tell you this, I continue shaking my head, and of course I add the word, “Sorry.” I’m always sorry.

“I’ll hold up the airplane when we land in order to get my bag out of the overhead bin five rows back!” exclaimed a passenger, a passenger who is also MY HUSBAND, a frequent flier I met on an airplane, after I had told him about what I was writing.

Completely appalled, I visualized the man I would NOT have married if I’d have seen him acting like that. “You’re kidding, right?”

Nope. He, the husband, a frequent flier I met in business class on a flight from Los Angeles to New York somewhere over Illinois, assured me he was not joking. And here I agreed to go out with the guy in the first place because I thought he was a nice passenger. Just when you think you know a person, they have to go and freak out over an overhead bin.

And so…after discussing the sensitive overhead bin topic quite thoroughly with the not so nice passenger / husband, I have concluded that if he had not been able to get his bag into a bin near his seat I probably would not agreed to meet him at the Starbucks located across the street from our layover hotel seven years ago. Which means we would not have had our beautiful baby boy a little over two years ago. Which means that my life, as I know it, would have turned out totally different.

“And I love my life,” I read out loud. It was the very last line of this post, and I wanted to know what the husband, who was now looking at me funny, thought.

“I never said I’d hold up the airplane!” he exclaimed, even though he most certainly did say that and I remember exactly when and where he said it – on the couch, during a commercial break at 9:15pm, two nights ago.

Okay so perhaps the man was hallucinating when I first read him this post. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. Taking it out on me and my overhead bin post. Who knows? All I know is I’m glad to he wouldn’t hold up the deplaning process in order to get his precious bag. He travels a lot. Over 100,000 miles a year. And flight attendants know he’s mine! Which means I can now go back to work and not worry about what the husband is doing on the airplane while I’m working another flight, standing between coach and first class saying, “Hello. How are you? Welcome aboard.”

Now that you’re curious about the other flight attendant pet peeves, click the following links: