Confession: Flight attendant reveals secret ways to improve your experience of a great flight

Published on : Monday, November 25, 2013

Danielle-HughPlane travel can at times be tiring, uncomfortable and irritating but doesn’t have to be, according to international flight attendant, Danielle Hugh. Getting the flight attendants onside is a good way to improve your odds of having a great flight. “Treat us well and your flight will be decidedly better,” Hugh claims.
“There is a saying in the airline industry: Never reward bad passengers,” she says. So what makes a ‘good’ passenger, the kind that a flight attendant will go the extra mile for? Here are her tips for getting the cabin crew onside:
We love to see passengers who smile when they come onboard with their boarding passes ready. Boarding passes need to be shown both at check-in and at the aircraft door – it’s aviation law. As for smiles, they are optional – but preferred!
Bring an in-cabin bag of a size and weight YOU can lift and place in the overhead lockers. We are there to assist with baggage, with ‘assist’ being the key word.
We’re always grateful to passengers who offer or are willing to change seats to accommodate families, and I’ve been known to reward passengers with a bottle of wine or bubbly to say thank you.
When you ask for help, articulate what you want quickly and efficiently, and most importantly, VERBALLY; no grabbing, tugging, yanking or touching in any way, shape or form, please!
It only takes a moment to anticipate how and where the crew serve meals and drinks. Clever passengers wait for carts to pass before attempting to use the restrooms, knowing they can’t pass the carts anyway.
It’s just courteous to remove your headsets to fully listen when cabin crew approach on a cart. Nothing annoys us as much as hearing ‘What was that?’ because a passenger can’t hear me through their headphones. Similarly, when serving tea or coffee, common sense dictates we will be asking ‘cream/milk or sugar?’ at some point. We love passengers who say ‘Black coffee, one extra sugar please’ straight up!
Your airline ticket guarantees a seat; not your meal choice. Be understanding when we run out of the chicken. If a passenger said to me, “So you only have fish? I understand. I don’t actually eat fish, but it’s ok – I can eat the salad,” I would do everything I could to get something other than fish for them, perhaps from business class or the snack range. If that passenger had yelled at me about not having chicken, would I go to that trouble?
Instead of using the call-bell button, why not wait for a passing flight attendant and say, ‘Hi, next time you come back can I please have…?’
Have rubbish ready when the crew are collecting trash. Handing a hostie a used tissue into their bare hands is unhygienic and rude. Handing over a used diaper…that’s obviously offensive, but it happens more often than you’d think!
Carry your own pen, especially on international flights where passengers are required to fill out customs and immigration documents.
In her 20 years as an international flight attendant, Hugh says she has seen many scenarios of courteous and cooperative passengers being rewarded by cabin crew.
Many of the anecdotes in her book, “Confessions of a Hostie”, are about the bad behaviour she has witnessed onboard and how the crew reacted, which often involved assisting other passengers who had also been affected.
“Not every ‘good’ passenger is going to be rewarded with complimentary bottles of champagne or a better seat, but, as a crew member, I can categorically tell you that if a passenger is polite and respectful to others around them, including the crew, the flight attendants will be equally polite and respectful, and everyone has a happier flight,” she says.
And who wins Hugh’s gold star for the best passenger she’s ever served? “A well-known politician – I won’t name him – was on two of my flights. On boarding, he stopped to say a personal hello to each flight attendant, and later said, ‘I know you are busy, so if it makes it easier for yourself, I would love a scotch on ice and some cheese when it suits you. I don’t need anything else for the rest of the flight, thank you.’ I gave him the world’s largest scotch with an equally impressive cheese platter – on both occasions. This man was at the pointy end of the plane and obviously travels all the time but he spoke in a way which was both respectful and clear. Any passenger can do that.”

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