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Top Flight Attendant Annoyances From an American Airlines Flight Attendant

Seat 38F was the last seat before the toilet and I hated it. At least it was an aisle seat. I was on a red-eye flight to JFK and as the flight attendants both pushed and pulled the beverage cart down the aisle, I quietly continued reading The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up.

Photo © Stefan Pinto

“What would you like to drink, sir?” Adrienne (not her real name) was the head flight attendant and as I looked up from the book — at her, she blinked twice — quickly. “Just water, please.” I once read that you should never drink water from the plane, and as Adrienne picked up the stainless steel pitcher, I wondered if the water inside was polluted, possibly with germs, feces and other contaminants. She handed me the transparent, plastic cup and I swallowed the contaminated water, in one gulp.

The passenger to my right, across the aisle, needed orange juice, with “very little ice” and as Adrienne began to fulfill that request, I tenderly slid my index finger under her left forearm, up to her elbow, caressing her Polyester blue uniform jacket. “Could I have some more?”

We chatted, in the galley, for the duration of the flight. Adrienne worked for American Airlines for 25 years, a job she admitted had taken a toll. “It’s not like it used to be,” she confessed as she caressed a wayward strand of titian hair, eventually tucking it behind one ear. “Now, after all this time, I’m back on call.”  Adrienne was my height, and she asked if I was a movie star. “Maybe one day,” I laughed. She smiled and looked down at my shoes. I was wearing my brown Mark Nason boots. They made me taller.

“Do you hate your job?” I wondered out loud. “Sometimes, although I do like this flight, it’s quiet and the cabin is dark.” A man dressed in blue sweat pants and an unwashed t-shirt with “FBI” and something else written below the upper case letters, entered the lavatory, click - OCCUPIED. “People don’t move around as much,” she said.

We exchanged contact information and Adrienne agreed to keep in touch. Since that flight, Adrienne has admitted to not looking at my Playgirl pictures as she is “Christian,” (so was the photographer). Today, in my email, she sent me a list, she felt would be a nice fit for this blog. 

  • Know how to turn off your call light (especially when you press it accidentally). Few things are more annoying — and time consuming — than a person ringing their call button over and over again just to tell us they pressed it accidentally and didn’t know how to turn it off.
  • Know what you want to drink ahead of time. If we ask you what you would like to drink, don’t ask us, “What do you have?”
  • Bring a suitcase that you can carry. Don’t expect the flight attendants to lift your bags when you can’t lift it yourself.  The public should be aware that it is not the flight attendant’s job to lift your bag.  In fact, workman’s compensation will not cover any flight attendant injury if it involves lifting passengers’ bags. It is not part of the flight attendant’s job description or responsibility to lift anyone else’s bags.
  • If you see a flight attendant in line to use the restroom, do not cut in front of us. We have bladders, too.
  • Do not ask a flight attendant about his or her schedule.
  • Do not ask a flight attendant if they have to share rooms on a layover.
  • If you see a flight attendant in uniform sitting in a passenger seat during the whole flight, this means that he/she is not working and is also a passenger.  Please do not hand them your trash or ask them for drinks.
  • If a flight attendant is sitting next to you (in uniform). They are not working. Please do not keep asking questions (especially if the flight attendant is trying to get some sleep). Chances are they have jet lag, so sleep is necessary but is very hard to do when the person next to them insists on having a conversation.
  • Flight attendants bend over backwards as long as you are nice.  If you are rude, you probably won’t get much sympathy from a flight attendant.
  • People think that airplanes have everything are appalled if we don’t have the following: baby diapers (moms: bring your own baby necessities); water (don’t ask to buy the bottles of water. We use the bottles for the whole flight and they are not for sale); food (we are not a restaurant), so eat before you board the aircraft, or bring your food on the plane.
This is a true story. I was on my way to be a guest on The Maury Show. This piece was published on Yahoo Shine to coincide with that crazy fellow that jumped out of the JetBlue aircraft with two beers, one in each hand. I wonder whatever happened to him?