These Flight Attendants Give Us An Inside Look Into What It Is Like Working For An Airline

The grass is always greener on the other side. When we see the life of flight attendants, we see all the glamour and perks. We see that they get to travel around the world and even get paid for it. Now isn’t that the dream life?

However, a lot goes into becoming a flight attendant. They undergo a lot of training and also have to deal with some very horrible passengers. These flight attendants give us a rare inside look into what it is really like to be a flight attendant.



They Keep Their Hands Behind Their Backs For A Reason

Hiding their hands makes it easier to conduct a headcount as people enter the plane – they’re keeping count on their fingers! If you saw them counting on their fingers in front of you, you probably wouldn’t think too highly of them.

The trust between the attendant and passenger must never be broken.
There’s A Secret Compartment For Their Naps

The flight attendants get to take their breaks too. Big planes like Boeing 777 or 787 jets have secret sleeping cabins built-in for staff.

These windowless sleeping quarters are built above or below the galley, so that’s probably where your favorite flight attendant is if you’ve noticed you haven’t seen them for a while.

Do Not Go Barefoot

It may seem like they’re just making themselves comfortable, but it’s actually pretty disgusting. Flight attendants know just how filthy the floor of the plane really is.

Plenty of accidents occur in flight. While those accidents do get cleaned up, it’s still not as sanitary as you’d hope, especially in between flights. Plus, cleaning supplies are limited on airplanes.

They Communicate With A Secret Code

Those bells and chimes you often hear during a flight aren’t for no reason. For example, those “dings” you hear at the beginning and end of a flight?

That’s to signal to the crew that the most dangerous stages of the flight are over since takeoff and landing are the most precarious parts of flying.

They’re Sizing You Up As You Board

As the passengers enter the plane, the flight attendants quickly make important assessments. They look over each and every passenger and make mental notes of who might be problematic or intoxicated, who is traveling alone, or those passengers who might be in need of extra assistance such as when they’re handicapped or traveling with children.

They are also seeing who’s strong and who might be useful in an emergency.

How You Can Possibly Score An Upgrade

If you are pretty nice to your flight attendant, you may even be able to score an upgraded seat if there were any available.

It will also help if you have a legitimate reason to be upgraded, such as being too tall, pregnant, or are a frequent flyer.

It Doesn’t Actually Pay Very Well

Flight attendants only get paid for the hours that the engine starts and the plane pulls away from the gate. Anytime before that, they aren’t getting paid — or they’re at least not getting paid their full rate.

Hours spent away from home but not in the air are compensated with a rate as low as $1.50 an hour.

They’ll Cut You Off If They Need To

Should you end up becoming heavily intoxicated on a flight, you can get up to a two-year sentence for this odd criminal offense.

But think of it this way: you don’t need to overdo it on a flight because the changing cabin pressure causes alcohol to have a stronger effect on your body than it does on the ground.

Order Diet Coke If You Want To Be Annoying

Diet Coke is noticeably fizzier than other carbonated drinks. And at over 30,000 feet in the air, those bubbles take forever to settle. Flight attendants have to pay extra attention not to let it overflow, but that just means that it takes about three times longer to pour than the other available beverages.

Flights are so dehydrating anyway so it’s probably best if you just ask for water.

There’s A Reason They Turn Off The Lights

There’s actually a good reason for this. Takeoff and landing are the most problematic stages of a flight. The lights get turned off so that everyone’s eyes can adjust to the light in the event of an emergency.

This can help people orient themselves with the space easily if they needed to take action.

Definitely Do Not Accept A Coffee

The tanks that the potable water is kept in apparently don’t get cleaned as often as you’d think. And sometimes, the valve for the lavatory water is located precariously close to the valve for clean water.

So next time, you might just want to stick to the bottled and canned drinks.

They’re Using Their Cell Phones The Entire Time

They may not make the most money in the world, but they do get to travel the globe and get paid for it.

Depending on how you look at it, that might not be the worst payoff in the world.

The Food Is Questionable Too

In-flight meals are loaded up with salt, sugar, fat, and simple carbs that make you feel full but actually have no nutritional value. If you’re stuck on a long-haul flight with nothing else to eat, those meals are your saving grace.

But you might want to remember to bring your own food onboard next time.

They Have The Power To Restrain You

If a flight attendant really needs to, they have the power to restrain overly aggressive or trouble-causing passengers. They usually have zip ties available or they could use the seatbelt extensions as restraints.

The passenger would then be placed in an area where they can’t be disruptive and would be escorted off at the first stop.

This Job Is Not For Everyone

A flight attendant job is a demanding one. You’re constantly jet-lagged, sometimes having to work on flights back-to-back.

You’ll often get 4 A.M. wake-up calls and be scheduled to work on holidays, not to mention being kept apart from your family for long periods of time.

You Might Want To Think Twice About First Class

The safest seats are those within a few rows of the emergency exit and the aisle seats. Studies have shown that passengers in the rear of the plane have the highest survival rates compared to those in first class.

In any case, no matter where you sit, it’s always smart to fasten your seat belt.

Flight Attendants Have To Look The Part

Flight attendants do have to have a natural hair color and it has to be pulled back if it is long. The biggest thing the airlines look for these days is height.

You can’t be too tall that your head will constantly be bumping into the overhead bins, but you can’t be so short that you can’t perform your duties comfortably.

It’s Not Easy To Land This Job

In 2010, Delta announced 1,000 openings and received over 100,000 applications. Only four percent of those applications got a callback interview. Flight attendants have quite a demanding job, for very little starting pay (at least $18,000 per year).

But if you have excellent customer service skills and think you can handle it, by all means, go for it! It definitely helps if you are bilingual.

Yes, Flight Crews Do Get Involved With Each Other

While flight attendants can fraternize with one another, their main priority is, of course, to remain professional at all times.

Just like any job, you wouldn’t want to air your dirty laundry in front of customers.

There are No Rules Against Flight Attendants Fraternizing With Passengers

More often, flight attendants are the ones fighting off unwanted attention while they’re just trying to do their job.

Still, they are allowed to meet a potential partner if they wish to do so!

The Oxygen Masks Have A Time Limit

There are around 12 to 15 minutes of oxygen in those masks. It doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it is. If you ever find yourself in a situation that warrants the use of these masks, just try to relax and breathe.

The pilot is working to get the plane to a safe altitude where you will be able to breathe without them.

Your Extra Bags Won’t Cause The Plane To Crash

Planes must have the right center of gravity for takeoff. Depending on how many checked bags do get stowed on the plane, most airlines have practiced using sandbags to even out the weight.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily explain why airlines charge you for extra bags, but we don’t make the rules.

There’s A Good Reason To Turn Off Your Phone

Cellular signals are strong enough to interfere with air traffic control frequencies, which isn’t ideal when the plane is trying to take off or land.

Sometimes takeoff can take longer than it needs to, so to help ease the process just turn off your devices when the time comes.

Be Nice To Check-In Staff

Even if they smile once you have been rude to them, you don’t know what is awaiting you on that plane.

Plus, as we’ve already said, the nicer you are, the better your chances of being upgraded if a seat becomes available.

Tips Are Accepted

A dollar might not get you far, but do not be afraid to test your luck by tipping. At the very least, you’ll make someone’s day.

It’s never a bad move to pay it forward, and just like your favorite bartender or service person, flight attendants just want a little extra love, too.

Keeping Your Gifts under Wraps

Airport security may have to unwrap and take a gander at your items.

Maybe having a gift bag makes more sense. We know this isn’t “on-flight” related, but sometimes a good tip needs to be given anyway.

Be Wary of the Blankets and Pillows

You might want to bring an extra jacket or headrest next time. You can also buy those horseshoe-shaped pillows at airports just to be safe.

Better safe than sorry, we’d hate to see you catch germs from someone you’ve never met before!

Is The Mile-High Club A Real Thing?

For as long as humans have been traveling by plane, the idea of the “mile-high club” has been glamorized.

But considering what we know about airplane bathrooms (let’s be real — they’re tiny, the lighting is awful, and they don’t always smell so good), a mid-flight romp isn’t all it chalked up to be.

Time To Exit

Flight attendants are also required to keep the food and water cart going up and down the aisle after two hours of delay.

You’ll be fed for at least an hour, don’t worry. Just remember, don’t drink coffee or tea!

Pack An Empty Water Bottle

Airports have water fountains where you can fill your empty one right up. Think of the money it will save you not buying water on the plane as well. It will save your flight attendants time, too.

Why bother them with getting you a water bottle when you could have pre-filled one yourself.

Being Rude Gets You Nowhere

If you are a frequent flyer, it will be noted on your account that you’re troublesome.

Just like getting a bad mark in school, you’ll be considered a bad flyer regardless of how many flights you book! Do you want an A in flying or an F?

Germ Alert

More dirty items are laid out on those trays than food. And the trays are likely only cleaned once a day. That’s just disgusting.

You already knew to be wary of the coffee, blankets, and pillows, but now you know the absolutely dirty truth about the food trays too! Yuck!

Pilots Need Sleep, Too

Essentially, the plane flies itself, especially during long flights. The takeoff and landing are what pilots are mostly needed for.

Now if you ask your flight attendant, she’ll probably tell you the pilot is awake and doing his job. No matter what, you have to maintain appearances!

Threats Over the Ocean

You would never know. One of the most important jobs a flight attendant has is to help maintain peace on the plane.

Imagine how much harder that would be if all the passengers were scared out of their minds.

Do Not Walk Barefoot

The gamble is yours to take. Basically, airplanes are giant cabins you’re stuck in where germs can manifest at any time.

But it’s totally still the safest way to travel. Just bring plenty of penicillin with you!

Don’t Forget Your Headphones

Next time you travel, be sure to bring your own headphones. Airline-issued headphones are sometimes free, and sometimes not.

And let’s be honest, you’re never going to reuse those flimsy things. They’re liable to break in your bag on the way back home.

Don’t Go To the Airport Starbucks

Starbucks may be delicious and addicting, but it could be better for you if you skip that long line. If you are flying Alaska Airlines or Delta, you get a complimentary Starbucks as part of their services.

This is something flight attendants definitely want you to know. It saves them time not making you coffee and you don’t get gross coffee with water possibly from the toilet. We call that a win-win!

What’s the Deal With Air Marshals?

You never know when you might be sitting next to one on your flight.

Air marshals wear “normal” clothing but are armed on flights, as their presence is to protect against a terrorist attack.

The Brace Position Isn’t a Myth

This position helps compact the body, protecting the vital organs from injury.

The topic has been so hotly debated that Myth Busters even did an episode on it.

Medical Emergencies Happen

Medical emergencies can happen any time — even mid-flight! Luckily, flight attendants and the rest of the crew are trained accordingly to handle a series of situations that may be thrown their way. Flight attendants are trained to act as first responders in the event that there is a medical emergency during a flight.

This includes things like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. All planes are also equipped with defibrillators and first aid kits if a passenger may need care during a flight.

Buckle Up, Seriously

Planes have been designed to be incredibly sturdy. Most are even able to withstand being struck by lightning without taking damage.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore the “buckle up” signal when it gets turned on, though.

The Captain Makes The Rules

Just about the only thing the captain of a plane cannot do is arrest passengers.

If there is a problem passenger, they can alert authorities, who will be waiting to arrest that person when the plane lands.

They Can’t Share Food

On international flights, crew meals are provided, too, but that’s not always the case on domestic flights.

That’s why most flight attendants know that bringing their meal is always better.

Unused Food Is Thrown In The Trash

While it might not be the best practice to waste leftover food, it is the reality of the airline industry.

Most food on board can’t be given to shelters, either.

Food Is Not Freshly Prepared

Does that sound fresh-made to you?

These in-flight meals are packaged in a way that they can be refrigerated for up to five days and still be labeled as safe to eat.

It’s Not Just Your Luggage In The Baggage Compartment

Flight attendants revealed that along with your baggage, there are sometimes HR (human remains) aboard.

While this may sound morbid, the truth is that if someone passes away while traveling, they need to be repatriated, and one of the most efficient ways is through a commercial flight.

This Engine Fact Is Kept Secret For A Reason

Planes can glide perfectly fine if the engine goes out.

Pilots are trained for this exact scenario, too. So, while it may be a scary situation to think about, it’s not actually as life-or-death as it may sound.

What It’s Like To Travel With Pets

One flight attendant warns that while pets are made as comfortable as possible on flights, some inconveniences cannot be avoided.

The biggest of those is noise. If your pet is sensitive to loud sounds, flying might not be the best option for them.

Your Safety Is Not Compromised Based On Ticket Cost

The fact is that when it comes to passenger safety, it is impossible for airlines to cut costs. Any flight attendant who has worked for multiple airlines will tell you this.

Legroom, seat selection, and baggage fees are different ways that airlines can cut upfront costs for customers.

The Best Time To Fly Is As Early As Possible

The earlier you can wake up and get on a flight, the more likely you are to avoid thunderstorms.

The air tends to be less “bumpy” earlier in the morning, so if you hate the idea of turbulence, this tip is especially important for you.