The Sky Is The Limit: 45 Of The Latest Secrets Flight Attendants Share About Their Craft
Airlines want us to believe that they recruit only the most elite staff, that their aircraft are kept meticulously sanitized, and that everything from booking to arrival at your final destination is always top-notch and safe. As much as we wish that were the case – the truth is that the travel industry has some well-kept dark secrets that we’ve managed to uncover for you all. Anonymous tips and veterans of the trade have bonded together over the internet and decided it is time to share what’s going on behind the scenes finally. According to what we’ve found from the experts themselves, airplanes are not always kept to the highest standard of cleanliness, there are always major safety concerns, and crew members are required to have some pretty unbelievable skills we would have never imagined. Airline workers have quite a bit of power when you’re flying high in the sky- so we suggest always remaining in their favor! Buckle up for this bumpy ride – because here are 45 revealing truths that airlines have tried to keep classified until now.
Stuck with Strangers
You’d think that a flight crew would work together as a team, the same way a police squad or even a group of colleagues in a marketing firm would. Once you hop on the flight, it seems as if they have all flown together for ages and know each other reasonably well – well enough to work together in such a professional and friendly manner, at least.
But the truth about airline crews is that they get switched around so often that flight attendants meet for the first time in the briefing just before the flight. Usually, they meet so briefly that they barely have time to learn names, so they refer to each other using neutral terms like “hun” or “darling.”
CRC’s, AKA crew rest compartments, are a little-known secret about long-range aircraft that many people don’t know exist. These cabins are exactly what they sound like – a room where crew members can take turns to rest during long flights.
We suppose it’s probably better that this isn’t a very well-known fact about planes, or everyone would try their luck at getting inside. As you can see, these rooms have beds, and beds are far more comfortable than an airplane seat in between two other people.
We all love an airline that serves up some of our favorite beverages. Have you ever been on an airline that offers free wine with your dinner? If you have to choose between Diet Coke or a glass of wine, these air hostesses ask that you choose the latter.
If you really want to give your airline attendant a bad day, ask them for Diet Coke. For some reason, Diet Coke seems to fizz a lot more than any other carbonated drink, and in the air, it’s almost impossible to stop it from fizzing all over the place.
Much like any other job, people in similar positions often tend to butt heads, and flight attendants are not above that ground-level drama. More often than not, if they have met there is a good chance that they don’t like working together.
Of course, we passengers are not likely to see the tension between the two. An essential part of a flight attendant’s job is putting on a smile and acting pleasant. It would be hard to do that if you’re scowling at your co-worker from across the plane.
Don’t Be A Jerk
Take this as a warning, people; this flight attendant isn’t taking any of your jet-lagged grumpiness, much like being at a restaurant; good luck getting anything “on us” if you’re being rude or disrespectful. Instead, if you would like outstanding service – try being polite.
Having respect for service workers on your flight might get you a long way – and if you’re charming enough, you might even earn yourself some bonus perks. However, if you’re cheeky or unpleasant, the flight attendants know how to give you a taste of your own medicine.
Like subways or other modes of public transportation, airplanes are considerably unsanitary places to spend your time – so it’s recommended not to walk around barefoot. Planes aren’t cleaned thoroughly after every single flight or every single day, for that matter.
So if you’ve dropped your mint, fork, or any other item that you might want to pop into your mouth – we’d advise that you give that a second thought. Oh, and don’t take off your shoes – you don’t know what kind of germs you’re subjecting your feet to.
This Redditor has two secrets to share about the flight world. The first one is loneliness. Sure, a flight attendant or member of an airline crew might sound appealing – traveling the world, being in the air day in and day out – but the job can be pretty isolating.
Touching on the hygiene thing again, this confession reveals a fact that we probably all suspected – they often don’t wash or replace the blankets and pillows – so next time you’re packing your carry-on luggage for a flight, you might want to pack your bedding.
Like motor vehicles, helicopters and trains – airplane parts don’t last forever and require regular maintenance. You’d think that with the risks involved with flight travel, the rules about damaged parts would be pretty strict – but apparently, that isn’t the case.
A plane can have many broken parts and still be allowed to fly. It’s a terrifying thought to know that a giant metal box with seats inside it and wings on the outside is allowed to fly even though it is broken. Yet – somehow, planes are considered highly safe.
The Cost of Being a Flight Attendant
Some people think that the life of a flight attendant is fun and glamorous. They get to travel all over the world, wear fancy uniforms, and they always seem to be in a great mood! However – this is not the case. Flight attendants are often not treated very well.
Air hostesses don’t get paid overtime for flight delays or cancellations, and they also don’t get paid by the boarding processor for their initial training. Only very few airlines pay their staff to attend the mandatory training, and it’s often only minimal pay at that.
Did you know that a flight attendant who’s sitting in a passenger seat on a flight isn’t a member of the crew sneaking in a few minutes of rest? They’re actually an attendant who is either traveling home from work or commuting to work.
It’s recommended not to bother them by asking them to help you with a glass of water or anything else that an active crew member can do for you. These attendants are usually quite exhausted from their shift or are saving their energy for the shift they’re about to start.
Red Eye Alert
It should be a well-known fact that flight attendants spend most of their shifts on their feet, and by the end of a long flight, they are more often than not utterly exhausted. So if you notice that your flight attendant has red eyes near the end of a flight – it’s the exhaustion setting in.
You don’t need to worry about asking them if they’re okay – they haven’t been crying or smoking up in the bathrooms in secret. They’re just tired. While you got to sleep or at least rest in your – admittedly uncomfortable chair – they probably didn’t get any sleep at all.
Hot and Cold
Anyone who’s been on a flight knows that it can get pretty cold up there, and we’re sure some of you reading this have either heard someone request or even requested yourself for the temperature to be turned up a little bit.
Instead of causing a scene by telling a passenger that they can’t do that – a flight attendant will often pretend to turn up the heat. The fact of the matter is that if a plane hits turbulence and the temperature is too warm, people are far more likely to throw up.
There’s a reason why the seatbelt light is on for the majority of the flight and why flight attendants will constantly remind you to fasten your seatbelt if they notice that it’s off. Turbulence can be pretty dangerous for our bodies and can even cause irreversible damage.
We know it isn’t the most comfortable thing to have for an eight-plus-hour flight, but next time your flight attendant reminds you to put on your seatbelt – don’t give them attitude. Just listen to the lovely lady/gentleman and buckle up.
Better Watch Out
It’s disappointing that so many passengers have very little respect for a flight attendant’s personal space. It’s considered rude, in any culture, to poke or nudge someone – especially in their most sensitive areas to get their attention.
We know that sometimes the flight attendant might not hear you, but saying “excuse me” a little louder or pressing the flight attendant call button that every seat on a flight has is the more polite and respectful thing to do when you want your flight attendant’s help.
Next time you’re feeling frustrated because another half-hour has delayed your flight, please try to remember that the flight attendant who will be boarding the flight with you has zero control over these delays – and as we’ve said before, they don’t get paid for delays.
So it’s likely that if you feel like you’re having a bad day because of the delay, the flight attendant is feeling that frustration, too – but they will never take it out on you. Rather than taking your frustration out on them, try to be empathetic and patient – no one can control these delays.
Time, Tide and Airplanes Wait For None
We hate to disappoint you, latecomers, but no airline will ever stop a plane for you – not even for love – even if the movies say otherwise. Delays cause a lot of mess for the schedules of the flight crews and ground crews, and it simply isn’t done.
So next time you have a flight booked – make sure you get there early, not just on time. You don’t want to end up missing your flight and having to pay for another one – especially if you’re in a foreign airport that speaks a foreign language.
Landing at Night
Here’s a little-known fact about night-landings. The plane dims its lights during the landing process so that your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness – making it easier and safer for you to evacuate should there be an emergency on the plane.
If your eyes have already adjusted to the darkness, there is less chance of you tripping or falling over and causing some severe damage to your body. At first, this may seem like it’s unsafe – but dimming the lights is the safest thing in case of evacuation.
Next time you want to judge your pilot for their hard landing skills, consider the weather. If the pilot is landing the plane during rainy or stormy weather, the harsh touch-down is intentional. It allows the aircraft to puncture the water layer and avoid aquaplaning.
Aquaplaning occurs when the wheels are not able to grip the landing surface properly and can cause the pilot to lose control of the plane, which can lead to a pretty nasty crash – which of course, isn’t good for anybody on the aircraft.
The truth about cell phones and planes: The truth is with technology these days, the signal interference of cellphones or computers won’t actually cause a plane to crash – but it can be really frustrating for a pilot trying to land.
This pilot has missed a clearance or two due to the signal interference from hundreds of cellphones, which can cause delays for an airline. So next time, think of others and just wait until the pilot announces that you can turn on your phone.
The air you breathe on a plane is recycled for breathing. As explained in this image, some aircraft recycle air where a large portion is blown back into the flight deck and the rest is used for passengers. We had no idea!
Newer models, however, can recirculate as much as 50% of cabin air – decreasing the amount of work for the engines. The air filters through high-efficiency particulate filters and is sometimes combined with fresh air before it enters back into the passenger compartments of the plane.
Once you’re on a plane – you’re on the pilot’s turf. It is best to obey his rules. The pilot has almost limitless authority once the doors have closed, and he can legally arrest people, write fines, and even take the will of a dying passenger.
You’d best have the utmost respect for the pilot once you’re on his plane – because if you don’t, you might just find yourself getting on the wrong side of the one person who can take your will if things go sideways for you.
Just a Little Lightening
Another interesting fact about the limitless power of pilots is that if a passenger is causing a scene in the jetway, the pilot is allowed to refuse to let the person on the flight and can take off without them.
Also, according to this pilot, planes get struck by lightning all the time, and it is rarely a problem. So next time you’re caught in a storm while you’re up in the air – fear not, your pilot will keep you and the members of the crew safe and sound.
What Remains in Cargos
A critical job for certain members of the ground crew of airlines is the team of people who handle the baggage. Without them – your luggage would be left at the airport, miles, and miles away from your final destination.
These workers often deal with some pretty weird baggage – including having to place actual human remains in the cargo hold – many people die far away from where they want to be buried, so their bodies need to be flown back.
While we don’t advise using this little-known plane trick to pick on other passengers, it sure is a great way to ensure that you have a solution in case your kiddies accidentally lock themselves in the lavatory. We hope that it doesn’t happen for your sanity because flying is stressful enough without extra distractions.
They probably have this extra mechanism on planes to ensure that people trying to smoke in the bathrooms secretly are caught swiftly – and so that the crew can assist passengers in case of an emergency. Still, it’s good to know.
The pilot and copilot are never allowed to eat the same meal while on shift on a plane in case one of the meals causes food poisoning – it would be disastrous if both pilots were stuck in the lavatory while the aircraft is on autopilot – especially during turbulence.
However, both pilots are permitted to eat their respective meals simultaneously while the plane is temporarily placed onto an auto-pilot. Hopefully, there will never come a time when both meals have gone awry! They really must consider their food intolerances not to risk any potential problems.
Flexing the Flex Restraints
Next time you’re in a sour mood on a flight – think twice before you get rowdy. All flight attendants and airline crew members are trained to use flex restraints to keep those boisterous passengers in line – and they’re not afraid to use them.
Don’t worry; you won’t be cuffed for simply being rude. Having these on the aircraft is a safety precaution if a passenger acts in a manner that could lead to dangerous or violent damage to the aircraft or other passengers.
Watch Out for the Pockets
We’ve mentioned the severe lack of hygiene on planes before – and that also includes the seat pocket at the back of the seat in front of you, which usually contains a sick bag, a flight itinerary, and maybe a magazine or menu.
This flight attendant spills that they are simply emptied but never cleaned and that they have seen all sorts of disgusting things come out of there like used sick bags, rubbish, used tissues, gum, and the list of gross findings goes on.
Flying and Texting
This confession takes us back to the one where we told you how pilots get really annoyed by the interference from cell phone signals. The truth of the matter is that the signal from cell phones can’t actually cause a plane to crash.
This flight attendant and probably many others can sneakily text on their phones when no one is looking because – well, they aren’t passengers who have crew members watching them like hawks during takeoff. If there were any concerns over the use of technology, we are sure they wouldn’t do it, but we don’t suggest you try this as well.
Shooting for the Stars
Here’s a terrifying thought: you’re on a U.S flight to Miami, and a terrorist has just hi-jacked the plane. You don’t know if you’ll ever survive, much less see the ground again. Good thing the U.S Government has implemented tons of safety precautions to avoid a horrific crash!
However – a terrifying fact is that if the plane has been hi-jacked, the U.S government allows the plane to be shot down – yep, you read that right. Apparently, the passengers’ collateral damage is considered far less catastrophic than the terrorists successfully jacking the plane.
Aviate, Navigate, Communicate
Safety-first is the number one rule for pilots. However, that safety doesn’t necessarily mean for passengers. If there is an emergency, the pilot’s motto is “aviate, navigate, communicate” – and get the aircraft landed as safely and quickly as possible.
It’s a little concerning that the safety of passengers as individuals is not mainly considered, but at least they’re considering the safety of the people down below. The pilot’s job is to land the plane as safely as possible, causing as minor damage as possible upon landing.
What a Treat
A little bit of kindness and compassion goes a long way for a flight attendant. They see so many faces every single shift, yet they can easily count how many people were polite enough to say “hello” and “thank you.”
It’s disappointing to know that the number of people expressing empathy and manners is so little compared to the number of people on the flight. Remember to treat your flight attendant with the same respect you would want to receive in their shoes – hey, you might even get rewarded for it.
Some people don’t know that often the cause of a delay on a flight is actually the fault of a member of the crew. Sometimes a flight attendant will take sick leave as little as two hours before a flight is meant to commence, which has the airline clambering for a replacement.
Finding a last-minute replacement can be time-consuming and cause considerable delays to the daily schedule with any position. Still, don’t automatically assume that this is the case and blame the present crew members – they showed up, after all.
Snakes on a Plane
It’s no secret that aside from passenger luggage, the cargo hold of a plane may contain some pretty strange things – we’ve already mentioned human remains, but animals are also often on board – and often it’s not the cute and fluffy kind.
Many exotic and even deadly creatures such as scorpions, rare beetles, spiders, and snakes have been loaded onto planes. Even though their habitats for transportation seem cruel and small, they are intentionally small to limit movement as they have previously escaped! Imagine sitting down in your seat to find a snake crawling up your leg – yeesh!
Just a warning to those of you who like to keep your hair and makeup perfect – even on a 19-hour flight: Don’t use the hairspray until you’re off the plane! Hairspray can set off the smoke alarm just as much as a vape.
Another tip to those of you who think vapes don’t count as smoking, they do. Vapes can set off the smoke alarm the same way cigarettes can – so you’d best get your cravings under control before your next flight!
Just a reminder, when you’re in the air – you have to follow the rules put in place by the pilot and his crew. Disobeying simple instructions can result in you being arrested and restrained just like disorderly passengers we’ve seen on flights.
The seatbelt sign is on for a reason – and that reason is for your own safety. So as this Redditor explains, just obey the rules and avoid breaking any bones – there are no emergency hospitals in the sky.
If you’re really into donating blood or organs, becoming a member of an airline crew might not be the best fit for you. After several years of working on an airline, your blood cells and organ tissue can grow abnormally, making it dangerous to donate.
An airplane has less air pressure than outside, which means less oxygen. Experiencing this daily can eventually affect your organs and blood cells and cause them to grow differently, which is why it is not safe for donation.
The probation for a newly hired flight attendant is strict and six months long. Flight attendants can lose their jobs for the most minimal and mundane things – like wearing their uniform sweaters around their waist or lying about their marital status.
Some may find it unfair, but we suppose it’s one way of weeding out the workers who aren’t really into it. Another fact that makes sense – especially since the pandemic – is that flight attendants can get into serious trouble if they fly ill and don’t call in sick.
Beware of Curses
Back to the discussion about having respect for the service workers on an airline – if you swear or curse directly at one of the flight attendants, they are allowed to kick you off the plane (we assume this is only if the plane is still on the ground.)
If you’re a person who cusses in general, the flight attendant will pick up on that and not necessarily make a big deal out of it. It’s more if you directly disrespect them by swearing at them that can cause you to end up in a bit of a pickle.
An axe can be found in the cockpit – usually right beside the mandatory fire hydrant and fire-resistant gloves. You might be wondering why this is a requirement for all aircraft to have, but the reasoning actually makes sense. We just hope it will never have to be used.
According to the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority), it is a compulsory safety measure for the crew to use as a fire fighting device. In the event of an electrical fire, the team can use the axe to cut away the cockpit or other panels that may have caught fire.
Of course, many people will put the safety of themselves and others ahead of their paycheck. Still, the truth is money can stress people out to the point that they’re willing to do anything for it – including overlooking safety concerns.
We’ve already discussed how flight attendants don’t get paid for delays – or the flights missed because of those delays – but this Redditor points out that some airline workers might intentionally “miss” a safety concern because of the delays that come with fixing them – that’s pretty scary to know.
There are some pretty hefty fines that airline workers face if they don’t follow the rules and regulations of the FAA. If a member of the FAA is on board and a flight attendant does not announce that the seat-belt light is on – that’s a fine for that flight attendant.
Flight attendants are also legally not allowed to bring passengers anything while taxiing unless it is an emergency or they can face a fine. To put it briefly – if the flight attendant says no to you during taxiing – it’s probably because they can get into some pretty expensive trouble if they make an exception.
Rewards for Decency
This Redditor and previous flight attendant tells us that they don’t miss their days working for an airline because of the isolation, jet lag, and always being away from home – something we have mentioned previously. A reminder to be friendly and smile at your airline workers.
If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or have any other dietary restrictions, this Redditor reminds you to make a note of it during the time of your booking so that you don’t go hungry on your flight. Once on the aircraft, they are not necessarily equipped to provide special meals for those that did not request them in advance.
“Technically” the Truth
Perhaps next time you’re curious about why there is a delay – it is best not to ask. Often the airline workers won’t give you the real reason anyway – it might freak you out and make you anxious for the flight duration.
The answer they give you will sugar coat the “technical issue” that the crew is experiencing when the truth is that one of the engines is down or the cabin pressure isn’t working – not something you want to know if you don’t particularly enjoy flying.
Training for the Worst
Most of the training that a flight attendant has to learn isn’t about how to correctly pour the scotch in first-class or smile for long periods. Even though service plays a significant role in this job – the central part of their training is how to act in emergencies.
Before joining the airline, flight attendants must learn how to fight fires, evacuate a plane in record time, and treat medical emergencies. Even though they hope never to have to use these skills – they are critical to know before becoming part of the team.
Some notes from a pilot – do not drink tea or coffee on a flight. The water routinely fails E. coli tests and is filtered through the same system as the water in the lavatories – yuck! Perhaps treat your caffeine craving with some Coke.
Another hint from this pilot is always to use soap when washing your hands due to the unhygienic water – and never put your food directly on the food trays as they are very rarely cleaned thoroughly enough to be considered “clean.”