Boeing moves flight attendant call button

call buttonIt happens on many flights: you or a seatmate is groping blindly for the reading light or trying to plug earphones into to the armrest, accidentally hitting the flight attendant call button. This may happen several times per flight, causing flight attendants needless trips up and down the aisle to check on embarrassed passengers. It’s a pet peeve on the Gadling team, among both crew and other travelers.

Not anymore. The new Boeing 737 airplane, unveiled this week at the Paris Air Show, has finally corrected this design flaw. The call button has how been moved away and distinguished from the reading light button, to prevent future mistaken “dings.” Other new design elements for the most popular passenger jet include LED lighting and higher overhead bins to provide more headroom. Airberlin will be the first airline to receive a new 737. “On every flight somebody pushes the wrong button. It is an issue for flight attendants,” said pilot Tim Techt.

Photo courtesy Flickr user gurms

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: