Return Their Greeting
When a crew member smiles and says hello as you’re boarding the plane, return the sentiment. With so many people filing past without acknowledgment, your sincere hello will make you stand out—in a good way. No one is suggesting you ask about their entire life's story or try to forge a deep and lifelong friendship—just a simple, "Hi," will make you look like a decent human being.
Time Your Potty Breaks
While it’s best to take care of restroom needs before boarding and after landing, a trip to the plane’s lavatory is sometimes unavoidable. If nature calls at 30,000 feet, try to answer before or after snack or meal service. Maneuvering bulky carts through tiny aisles is challenging enough without the wandering passenger element.
Pass It On
Did you grab the latest issue of People, Vogue, or GQ from the airport before take-off? If you finished it on the flight, consider passing it on to your flight attendant. They’ll appreciate the gesture and enjoy having some fresh downtime reading.
If you’re an old pro at flying, you’ve heard the safety spiel a zillion times. Why listen to yet another rendition? The flight attendant’s number one job is to keep you safe, so start off on a good foot by paying attention to the five-minute (or less) pre-flight presentation. It’s the least you can do.
Headphones are great for travel, but know when to take them off. When a flight attendant speaks to you, you’ll hear better if you remove the barrier—allowing you to reply and/or comply more quickly. The flight will be more efficient and enjoyable for everyone.
You’ll be a flight-crew favorite if you bring presents. Give them a packaged, store-bought snack they can share, and you’ll be treated extra special the entire flight.
Bring Ink Pens
For a non-edible present idea, consider ink pens. Flight attendants are constantly losing pens to some passenger’s Sudoku puzzle, so gifting them a few writing utensils tied up with a simple ribbon will make you MVP (most valuable passenger) for sure.
Don't Make that Call
If you don’t see them for a bit, keep in mind that the flight attendants are busy taking care of everyone on the plane. If you’re wondering when lunch will be served or if you can get a blanket, just be patient. You’ll see your flight attendant again soon. Unless it’s an emergency, the call button is best left un-pressed.
Keep Your Feet on the Floor
If you happen to find yourself in a bulkhead seat, don’t put your feet on the wall in front of you. It’s impolite and can be dangerous in turbulence or during a rough take-off or landing.
Brag to the Boss
When flight attendants are exceptionally good at their job, don’t hesitate to ask how you can let their supervisor know. Before de-planing, thank them for taking care of you and write down their employee number as well as the name and email of their higher-up. When airline officials receive kudos for their employees, they generally find ways to reward them.
Hang Up and Fly
The airplane door closing is your cue to turn off your cell phone. Your flight attendant will remind you, but violating this safety regulation comes with hefty fines for flight attendants. So, it’s best to comply swiftly. If they have to tell you twice, you won’t make the nice list.
Before you leave your house, think about what you’ll need. If you’re traveling with a baby, make sure you bring plenty of supplies. If you have a medical condition, pack your medicine. Being proactive will ensure comfort for your family and make everyone around you more comfortable, too.
Know Your Drink
Have your beverage order ready, including how you’d like it (cream and sugar, no ice, etc.). Waiting to think about it when the question is asked slows progress. Make a decision, stick to it, and your flight attendant will love you for it.
Use the Seat in Front of You
The space under the seat in front of you is built-in storage for backpacks, bags, and purses. Use it. Placing smaller bags in the overhead compartment takes up valuable space for larger luggage and can be particularly problematic on a full flight.
Don't Poke or Tap
There is never a reason to poke a flight attendant. Remember the Golden Rule; If the thought of being poked by a random stranger makes you cringe, don’t do it! Trust that your “Excuse me?” is heard. Wait patiently for their response and you'll help lower their stress level.
If there is a shortage on your favorite in-flight meal, the plane's delayed, or there simply isn’t enough supplies to provide the maximum comfort, don’t argue with the staff. Trust us, they have much better things to do than to lie!
When you have a question, make sure that your primary mode of communication isn’t just pointing and mumbling “Why?” or “Gimme.” If those phrases even counts as communicating, it’s definitely the most entitled form. Speaking respectfully is a surefire way for the attendants to extend the same amount of respect to you.
Planes have unexpected and complicated problems like any piece of machinery will. By staying calm and waiting patiently for an issue to be resolved or on people in line, holding in snotty complaints keeps the flight attendants sane. Everyone's in the same boat (or plane) here, so your pettiness affects the whole group!
If you brought stuff that can't go onto the flight, own up to it. There's no sense in arguing because it's never going to make it past security. Also, not every conflict on a flight needs an attendant in the middle to resolve it. If someone’s kicking your seat, pluck up your courage and politely ask them to stop. If they don’t, then a third party might be necessary. Don’t rely on the staff to handle everything!
Everyone knows that you need to arrive at the airport well before your boarding time in order to get your bags checked, through security, and at the gate for your flight. Home Alone-esque mistakes do happen, but being on time ensures that you’re calm, clear-headed, and more likely to become a flight attendant's favorite.
If there’s an issue on the flight, everyone’s probably dealing with the same discomfort. Of course, it’s natural to be a little upset, but making your annoyance heard by the entire flight is completely unnecessary, selfish, and rude. We get it, the plane’s freezing—no need to point out the obvious!
Saying “please” and “thank you” is common courtesy, yet the simplest gestures go a long way for flight staff. Attendants have a lot more to do than you realize, and giving them basic human respect will make them appreciate you even more. The same goes for any service worker!
Have Reasonable Expectations
Flight attendants are people, not magicians! Don’t expect them to have beaming smiles or be at your sole beck-and-call the entire flight. Especially if there’s an emergency, don’t squirm about about their absence. There’s only so much a person can do.
Once you start thinking about the people around you, your actions will become much more selfless, which always makes the flying process easier. Cutting, pushing, yelling, and grumbling withholds respect for others and forces staff to intervene when their hands are already full.
Having an appropriate number of carry-ons that aren't 1,000 pounds is another thing you can do to make flight attendants love you. Because boarding is the most stressful part of the flying process, bulky bags that magically bump into everyone and everything lengthens the amount of time it takes for people to actually board the aircraft.
Lift Your Own Bags
If you do decide to use the overhead compartments for your carry-ons, lift them yourself. Let the staff help those who actually need it, or else they risk debilitating injuries from lifting every passenger’s suitcase above their head. Some airlines don’t even allow them to lift bags because of the physical strain!
Don't Make Things Harder
The boarding process is the most stressful part of an attendants job. When lines are long, don’t cut or shove, always have your boarding pass prepared, and listen to all instructions from the flight attendants. If they ask you to remain seated on the flight, don’t defy their instructions or you are the problem!
Remember what we said about patience? A flight attendant's first priority might be taking drink orders one moment and then suddenly shift to tending someone's heart attack. If you don’t realize that a dying person is lightyears more important than your water with lemon, then you have your own priorities to sort out.
Use Your Inside Voice
Using your “inside voice” is a common courtesy we definitely learned in preschool, yet slews of adults either ignore or forget this lesson. No one wants to be struck by the shrapnel of your screaming match or overhear very personal stories of that time in the hot tub across the airport. Soft tones and quiet phones, people!
If you expect flight attendants to smile, then it’s not unreasonable to extend the same kindness. A smile can sometimes mean more than physical gifts when given appropriately (and especially during stressful moments).