If you’ve ever wondered what kind of secrets of the sky are being kept from you, we’re here to finally give you some insight. Anonymous, real-life flight attendants share their stories in our tell all list of crazy confessions and classified info. We cover the good, the bad, and the just plain gross!
Can We Check That Bag, Sir?
Passengers hate checking their luggage. For good reasons, too. Flight attendants see what goes on behind-the-scenes at baggage claim – “They are, however, intentionally thrown, slid, jostled, stacked under hundreds of pounds of other bags, and exposed to the elements because that is the nature of the job. You can safely assume that your bag is touched and handled by at least 7-8 people, per flight segment, if you are connecting, at least 10 different people, not including TSA.” Carry-ons always seem to be the better option.
Lavatory Doors Don’t Actually Lock
Flight attendants flock to their Reddit hub to give subscirbers little tricks and tips they can take with them in the air. A former flight attendant on the site let’s his (or her) readers know “There is usually a lock mechanism concealed behind the no smoking badge on the door. Just lift the flap up and slide the bolt to unlock.” Well, that’s certainly good to know. We’ll be a bit more careful next time we think we’re all alone in an airplane bathroom!
Ask A Flight Attendant Where To Party
Remember Beth Windsor? She filled us in on the weight restrictions flight attendants still face. Well, she also recommends you ask your flight crew where the party is at when you’ve arrived to your destination. The former air hostess said, “Instead of buying a travel guidebook just ask cabin crew for some tips, or better yet, tag along on their nights out. Flight attendants have been known to have wild pool parties, blag their way into VIP areas and even wake up with errant farmyard animals in hotel rooms a la the film The Hangover, so if we’re having a party, you want to be invited.” You don’t have to tell us twice, Beth!
The Crew Is Short On Supplies
The cabin crew is almost always running short on supplies. By the time they get back to the back of plane, they’ve ran out of soda cans and hot towels. Passengers cups are only halfway full with your favorite soda or alcoholic drink because they simply can’t spare a whole can on regional airlines. Don’t even bother asking them to take from their own stash either; “Basically we have at least a trolley dedicated for the crews.” There is a loophole though.. “You can ask for a full can of pop instead of the tiny little cup filled with mostly ice.” The attendant can’t say no to that.
Wipe Down Your Tray Before Use
A former flight attendant who used to work for Southwest gave us a special heads up on airplane trays. She says, “if you have ever spread your peanuts on your tray and eaten, or really just touched your tray at all, you have more than likely ingested baby poo. I saw more dirty diapers laid out on those trays than food. And those trays, yeah, never saw them cleaned or sanitized once.” We just threw up in our mouths a little bit.
Pee At Your Own Risk
Airplane bathrooms are safe havens for germs and bacteria. The lavatories aren’t deep cleaned on a daily basis and rude passengers don’t typically pick up after themselves. For those who thinking about getting down and dirty, by you know, joining the Mile High Club, you might want to think again. Take it from a flight attendent who cares to tell us the truth – “I only saw someone having sex in the lavatory once. They apologized. I gave them a talking to. It was over. I think if they had known how filthy those bathrooms really are, they wouldn’t have done it to begin with.” Enough said.
Paid When Plane’s Doors Are Closed
Flight attendants aren’t on the clock, not until the plane is sealed and set to take off. One thing any flight attendant would love to tell us is, “We only get paid when the main cabin door is closed. I make less than 20K a year. This is common.” We gottta admit, that does seem pretty unfair in the grand scheme of things. But at least they get to travel for free!
Who Is The Air Marshal?
Flight attendants know who the Air Marshal on their flight is, and some of them have been hit on by one and lived to tell about it. A former flight attendant recalls the time her flight’s Air Marshal made a pass at her – “”An air marshall came up to me while working in the back galley and starting talking. He asked me if we could hang out during the layover.” She continues with her story, “He came back and said, ‘It’s OK. No one will have to find out. It’s not like your husband is here.’ That’s when I let him know, ‘Actually, he’s our pilot.'”
SkyMall Isn’t Worth The Hype
We’re pretty sure no one actually buys anything off SkyMall, but just in case you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole then here’s this little tid-bit for you – “All of the stuff in Sky Mall can be purchased on the internet for much less money.” SkyMall products are purchased by the airline company and sold at a much higher prices because they just can. There’s really no other reason for the insane amount of money they charge.
The Senior Flight Attendant Lives Large
The amount of time a flight attendant has been on the job can determine a number of very important things. These include how short your skirt can be, where you get to sleep in the community crashpad, and avoiding the most disgusting jobs of the cab crew details – “Our tenure on the job doesn’t just determine which routes we fly and which days we get to take off; Seniority is the difference between top or lower bunk, what floor your bed is on, and just how far away your room is from noisy areas such as doors or stairwells.”
The Pilot Is The Law
Just like a captain of a ship, a pilot of a plane is the big man in charge. He takes legal responsiblity and exercises his authority when the timing is appropriate. For example, “if a passenger is causing a scene in the jetway he can refuse to let them on and take off without them. The captain has almost limitless authority when the doors are closed. He is allowed to arrest people, write fines and even take the will of a dying passenger.” With such power, comes much responsibility.
The Truth About Oxygen Masks
Unfortunately, oxygen masks aren’t quite the life-saving tools we’ve always believed them to be. They have the potential to keep you alive, of course, but everyone airline employee is aware that “if the oxygen masks drop down, you only have about 15 minutes of oxygen from the point of pulling them down. However, that is more than enough time for the pilot to take us to a lower altitude where you can breathe normally.” Here’s to hoping the pilot can get his job done!
Most Planes Get Struck By Lightning
It’s a flight attendant’s job to make you feel safe, even though they get scared themselves. It’s common for airplanes to get struck by lightning and most of them usually do. A flight attendant for Transatlantique recalls the time when Sarah Palin freaked out in such an instance; “‘I was a flight attendant for a regional airline working on board Embraer 145s and a highlight of my career was Sarah Palin freaking out when we got hit by lightning. We went through a storm and got hit by lightning that left a baseball size hole in the tail. She was screaming and carrying on and I was just like, chill lady, we aren’t going to crash.” We aren’t too surprised by Palin’s reaction.
Something Is Always Broken On Board
“The plane you’re about to fly on is broken. Without a doubt. SOMETHING on that plane is broken. They’re big, complex machines, and they break all the time.” Don’t worry, this former flight attendant assures us that flying is still completely safe, “Most of the time it’s trivial things like reading lights, coffee makers, and cabin trim. Don’t let this prevent you from flying though, they are incredibly safe machines. Even when they have fairly serious malfunctions, they are usually able to get back down safely.” All airplane equipment is built with at least two or three back-ups in case something fails. This is why flying is safer than driving in the car.
A Special Trick For Optimum Space
If you’re sitting in a window or aisle seat, there’s something you can do you give yourself some extra room; “Run your hand along the underside of the armrest, just shy of the joint you’ll feel a button. Push it, and it will lift up. Adds a ton of room to the window seat and makes getting out of the aisle a helluva lot easier.” This way, you can avoid other passengers who seem to invade your personal space with the limber body parts. You can also avoid annoying your flight staff with leaving your legs in the galley way.
More inter-crew affairs happen than the average passenger would realize. Pilots make their way around the leg circuit, figuratively speaking, and hook up with other flight crew members and passengers. A flight attendant who recently resigned, feels no shame in telling us the truth; “Not only do pilots hook up with the attendants but also passengers they meet on the flights, random women at bars hotels etc. Same goes for flight attendants, quite a lot of whom have multiple guys they see in different places.” It looks like our suspicions have been confirmed.
Weight Gain Restrictions
Apparently, we’re still living in the Pan Am days of the 1960’s! Flight attendants need to watch their figure. Beth Windsor, a former flight attendant for British Airways admits, “Once you’re issued with a uniform, that’s it – you can’t change it for a size bigger if you find you’ve put on a few pounds. The airline will give you one month to lose the weight – otherwise you will be put on a weight management programme.” Dang, that’s kind of harsh.
Dead Bodies On A Plane
Human remains (HR Code) aren’t just corpses being delivered to their burial site, but singular organs being transported for surgery. HR’s are flown on almost every regional flight flown domestically. Flight attendants have also had their fair share of dead bodies on board. The husband of a former flight attendant for a German headline shared his late wife’s most memorable day on the job; “‘The old lady passed away mid flight. Now at this airline, the rules say that if someone dies, they are to put them in the restroom, but the purser decided it was humiliating. So my wife being one of the stronger flight attendants and him being the only male, they had to drag/carry the old lady through the plane to the crew rest, where they have beds to sleep in during their breaks. Dead people are really heavy and none of the other passengers dared to help.”
A Boy’s First Sip Of Alcohol
“I had an 8-year-old walk on the plane with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade.” Now, that sentence just made us lose a little faith in our already troubled society. This young boy was obviously stripped of his alcoholic beverage and we sure do hope he was giving a juice box instead. Maybe the 8 year old’s name just happened to be Mike and wrote it on his cup of lemonade?
“Crop-Dusting” Down The Aisle
Fight attendants are farting as they walk down the aisle. There we said it, and now the truth-bomb has finally exploded. We have proof: “…the galley is a cramped space. It would simply be impolite for us to fart on each other back there, so we engage in a process called “crop-dusting,” whereby we walk down the aisle and fart as we do so.” This is why sleeping on your flight is always the right thing to do.
That’s Just Disgusting!
Some airplane passengers really do give the rest of us travelers a bad name. This unfortunate flight attendant recalls one of her most disgusting passenger experiences by telling us, “”I had a passenger that bit off his toenails, making a small clippings pile on the small console of the seat.” And that’s not all! People rest their bare feet on the food trays, hang their undergarments off their seats, and leave their sick mess on the floor without cleaning it up.
The Miracle Of Life In Mid-Air
Flight attendants come in handy when a passenger goes into labor mid-air. There have been quite a few cases where a woman births her baby on the plane with the help of a flight crew and any passengers who may be in the medical field. This past August a flight from Dubai to the Philippines endured this very circumstance. The flight attendants washed the baby with mineral water and created a make-shift bassinet as they prepared for emergency landing. So, what don’t the flight attendants tell you when you consider boarding a plane late in pregnancy? That after giving birth mid-flight, your baby gets 1 million free miles in travel!
Service Monkeys Allowed
People with disabilities or mental health disorders have the right to bring their service animals on board. One flight attendant had the privelage of experiencing a passenger’s service monkey and his “services” first hand; “A passenger was a quadriplegic and brought a service monkey with him on the plane. The monkey started going nuts on the flight. It was feeding on the passenger food and started spewing the food all over the plane. Another flight attendant took the monkey and put it in the bathroom..” They monkey didn’t calm down until the plane finally landed.
Free Drinks For Tippers
If you tip a flight attendant, which is a rare luxury for the sky flyers, you’ll be treated for the rest of your flight – “NO ONE tips flight attendants. If you give your FA a fiver with your first drink you’ll probably drink for free the rest of the flight.” Not only that, but if you bring them something a bit more original you’ll be the flight attendant favorite. If you decide to “bring an unopened bag of or box of chocolates for the flight crew, especially long flights…they’ll treat you like a king for the whole flight.” Be careful though, if you get too intoxicated mid-air you can get in trouble with their Air Marshal.
Karma For Crude Passengers
If a passenger lands themself on the bad side of a flight attendant, they will have to pay the price. There’s a special penalty for those who don’t play nice with sky’s friendly flyers; “When a passenger is disgustingly rude to check-in staff, they would put him in an area circled with children. Do not piss your check-in staff off, they will smile politely as they return your boarding pass and you will never know the hell that awaits you.” On that note, is you’re a frequent flyer and have an account with your favorite airline, they’ll mark you down as a problem passenger for flight attendants who tend to you in the future.
Training In Human Trafficking
A piece of good news that lingers along in the airline industry is that flight attendants receive training and stand on the line of first defense for human trafficking. The initiative to get involved started with an American Airlines attendant named Sandra Fiorini, who reported a man with a stolen baby on her flight in 2007. After the authorities neglected her call, she partnered up Deborah Sigmond, founder of Innocents At Risk, and they created a protocol for flight attendants in similar situations. They call it having “boots in the air.” We had no idea that airline employees could spot and target human traffickers!
First Class? I’ll Pass
A helpful flight attendant finally enlightened the masses at the security check-point! “”You know that first class line at security? Yeah, thats an airline thing, not TSA. Economy passenger? TSA doesn’t care. Step right up.” Did we hear that right? Basically, Transportation Security Administration doesn’t care if first-class ticket holders get on their plane first. If you have an economy seat feel free to join the shorter line and then call security when you’re told to go to the back of the longer line.
What Are These Handcuffs For?
A flight attendant has the authority to cuff you, so beware! Traveller.com reports to its readers, “Usually they’re a plastic item sold under the commercial name Tuff-Ties which some militaries also use and they’re not unlike cable ties, although stronger and more flexible. The restraint might also be the more heavy duty Hawaii Five-O stainless steel product.” Flight attendants are tougher than you think and they aren’t afraid to restrain you if necessary!
Secrets Codes & Passenger Nicknames
Your friendly flight attendants spread may have already given you a special nickname if you’ve made your presence known. They tell each other which passengers are rude and who deserves their special attention. They also have secret codes that are used out in the cabin. For instance, “There’s also some code words we might use to describe you, like Bob, which stands for boyfriend on board. This is when a certain flight attendant takes to a certain man and makes sure that he’s doing fine throughout the flight. You might hear FA’s ask how Bob is doing, just checking in to make sure the relationship is going smoothly.”
Strict Grooming Guidelines
If you’ve ever asked yourself how flight attendants find the motivation to look so good, all the time it’s because “they’re disciplined if grooming standards aren’t followed to the letter. Skirts can’t go above the knee, heels must not be higher than three inches, lipstick has to be a certain shade of red and constantly applied, and nails must always be manicured with only pink, red or French polish. Some airlines have also been known to check the color of your bra before a flight, so being on your best beauty behavior is a must.”
Silent, Sleeping Pilots
Apparently, it’s totally okay for a plane’s pilot to take a nice, long nap when he’s navigating the plane. We aren’t pilots, so we aren’t exactly sure how far to judge this one. There’s one flight attendant who offered up a quick, easy, and concise analysis on just how often pilots snooze during flight. She said, “1/2 of pilots sleep while flying and 1/3 of the time they wake up to find their partner asleep.” We guess it’s a good thing that there are two pilots to sleep on the job, not just one.
Deep Cleans Come Once A Month
Airplanes only receive a “deep cleaning” every 35 to 55 days. This means that the walls, windows, and floors don’t get scrubbed for at least a month at a time. Most flight attendants are appalled when passengers walk around with bare feet: “”And just so you know, when you go to the bathroom and you’re barefoot or you’re in your socks, that’s not water on the floor.” We’ll remember that next time we’re on a plane.
Don’t Drink The Water
This one actually came as a surprise to us. A former flight attendant fills us in on the dirty secret all airline employees know to be true – “The drinking water, that used for making coffee, tea, etc., should NEVER be consumed. The holding tanks in these sometimes 60 year old planes are never cleaned. They have accumulated so much greenish grime on the walls that in some places it can be inches thick.” We think we’ll be packing our own bottled water for our next flight. Thanks.
Electronics Are Annoying.. Not Dangerous
Does anyone else get frustrated when you need to put your electronic device away, even if it’s just temporary? Well, up until now, we believed that this was for the safety of the plane’s crew and passengers. That’s definitely not the case – a former flight attendant told the littlethings.com “Mobile electronic devices won’t really bring an airplane down, but they can be really annoying to pilots.” Good to finally know!
Passengers Act Like Children
The biggest pet peeve of any flight attendant is a passenger who tattles on another passenger. “For example, that man that’s overweight and spilling into your seat on a full flight? I can’t tell him to suck in his gut or ask a thin person to switch with you,” said a former flight attendant. Starting World War lll in the middle of their flight is not what they were hired for; “I am risking a possible lawsuit against my airline or at worst, my job. With the age of social media, a lot of things get twisted. I never want to be the flight attendant that ‘harassed a mother and her crying baby’ or ‘would not let allow a man with a medical condition sleep’ because he snores.”
Pranks From A Flight Attendant
Flight attendants are playing pranks on you, and they’re enjoying every minute of it. A former flight attendant recalls her favorite prank that a colleague used to play: “If he was bored he might do his “Spoon Service” trick where he offers everyone in business class a spoon from a silver tray (“Would you care for a spoon?), only to go right back and collect them again without having offered any food, (“If you’re finished with your spoon, sir?”). There are lots of responses that give us a good giggle.” The most mainstream prank today is the window note. But sometimes you get a sweet saying instead of a sarcastic quip.
Mandatory Drug & Alcohol Testing
It may seem a bit extreme, but it’s for the safety of the flight and its passengers. “All cabin crew can be subjected to alcohol and drugs testing before a flight as it is illegal to be intoxicated on an aircraft, meaning stewards must be booze-free for at least 12 hours before take-off.” This is just one of the many unusual requirements a flight attendant needs to face daily before taking flight.
The Hijack Signal
God forbid you should ever find yourself in this situation, but a flight attendant always knows when the plane is being hijacked. The pilot sends his crew a hasty signal; “If the plane is being highjacked when the pilot lands they will leave the wing flaps up that slow the plane down, this is to signal the airport that there is something happening in the plane.” Flight Attendants don’t want their passengers to know what this signal means, as they’d wish to avoid panic in a troublesome situation.
Mainline Employs Better Pilots
Regional Pilots don’t make us much money, have as much experience, and therefore don’t try as hard as mainline pilots do. “You may have bought a ticket on Delta, United, or American, but chances are you’ll be flying on a subcontractor. That means the pilots have a fraction of the experience, training, and pay of the big mainline carrier.” And the remaining, shocking truth is regional pilots will take their time flying the aircraft unless otherwise specified by ATC, or it’s their leg home. Making your connecting flight just isn’t their priority.
Pet Treatment Facts
Thinking about our furry friends riding solo in the bottom of an aircraft is sad enough, but a flight attendant wants to express the disadvantages of flying your pets – “One thing I cannot stress enough is how your pets are treated. While your airline will take the best possible actions, some things cannot be avoided, like the noise on the ramp. I cannot stand out there without ear protection, and imagine your pet sitting out there on the ramp waiting to be loaded onto the plane being exposed to the same amount of noise I am. Please people, think twice before flying your pets.” This definitely makes us think twice.
Your Headset Isn’t What You Think It Is
If you thought you were getting fresh, never-used headsets on your flight, think again; “The headsets that are given to you are not new, despite being wrapped up. They are taken off the flight, “cleaned”, and then packaged again.” This is just unsanitary. But what about the headsets you pay for? Those have to new and unused! Aren’t they?
Watch Out For Your Linens, Too
We had to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re better off bringing your own blankets and pillows to your next flight. We’ve been hearing this alot lately; “Those blankets and pillows? Yeah, those just get refolded and stuffed back in the bins between flights. Only fresh ones I ever saw were on an originating first flight in the morning in a provisioning city.” This makes us want to go take a shower, like, immediately.
The Bomb Threat Protocol
There are certain procedures that need to be followed when a bomb threat is called in on an airplane. These usually consist of searching the premises and evacuation, but what happens if the plane is in midflight? A Reddit contributor gave us an example with his friend’s personal experience; “Around five years ago he was doing a flight from LA to Tokyo when an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat while they were over the middle of the Pacific. Apparently they have procedures for this kind of thing, but there was nothing anyone could do in this situation except stay calm and not alert the passengers (obviously). He said for the rest of the flight every bump of turbulence made his adrenaline spike.” That’s a bit petrifying.
Know What You’re Eating
Airplane food may be loved by some passengers, bot not all of us. Flight attendants refuse to eat the food they serve to everyone on board, if they manage to get to you before the food runs out, and we now know the reason why. A former flight attendant fills us in on why the food tastes so interesting, ““You get served frozen food which is kept for up to 72 hours.” We’re basically eating food that’s been kept in the freezer for 3 days straight.