Every day, 42,000 flights depart around the world, transporting 2.5 million passengers to their destinations. And, while many people deem them as just ''waitresses in the sky,'' flight attendants play a key role in keeping us safe. Without them, air travel would lack safety, pleasure and order. Even so, many passengers still treat them like their only role is bringing coffee and snacks. What a misconception! There are numerous things a flight attendant does that often go unnoticed and there's a lot more to the job than some people think. For instance, people probably do not know that flight attendants are obliged to follow a set of rigid rules—in and out of the sky. Let's take a look at the 15 things flight attendants are not allowed to do, although please keep in mind that policies differ from company to company.
15 Eat in front of passengers
Have you ever witnessed an air attendant eating on board? You won't because, according to flight attendant Jeremy Thompson, they are not allowed to eat in front of passengers. ''When I worked, we were always told to be discreet when eating and drinking,'' he explains. ''We couldn't be seen by passengers walking down the aisle eating food or drinking. However, we could hide in the galley out of passenger view to eat and drink.'' Now it makes sense why we've never seen a flight attendant chow down a sandwich or a bag of chips on the plane. It's because they can't let us see them eating. We suspect it has something to do with airlines wanting us to feel like we have their full attention at all times on the flight.
14 Let you drink duty-free drinks
If you thought that shopping spree for booze in the duty-free store was an excuse to get merry on the plane, think again. While you can bring booze on board, you are not allowed to drink it. And if you try, a flight attendant will stop you. ''If you bring any booze on board, it can’t be opened,'' says flight attendant and founder of Sybersue.com Susan McCord. ''If you have any in a bag, say a duty free bag or it’s up in your bin, that’s fine, but you can’t drink it. Otherwise, they can get super-drunk and we’re not taking care of them.'' We can see the logic in this. It may be their job to take care of passengers, but they're not our babysitters.
13 Have a drink with you
If you're looking for company on the plane in the way of joining you for a drink, don't expect the flight attendant to sit down with you. Steffanie Rivers, a former flight attendant and author of the Do's and Don'ts of Flying: A Flight Attendant's Guide to Airline Travel Secrets, says drinking on duty is prohibited. ''We're not supposed to drink the liquor that we serve people,'' she informs. So while the flight attendant might be friendly with you, that doesn't mean they'll sit down and join you for a cocktail or a glass of wine. First of all, they're forbidden from doing so and second of all, they have a job to do. They don't have time to be getting all liquored up on the flight.
12 Promote their private interests
They'll sell you food, drink and perfume, among many other products, mid-way through the flight. But that's okay because they are selling on behalf of the airline. What's not okay is they try to promote their outside interests to passengers on the flight. ''We’re not supposed to solicit customers for our own private interests,'' says Rivers. So if your flight attendant is trying to lure you into purchasing their health products, clothes, jewellery or subscribing to their podcast, this is a major red flag. Now that you know this fact, don't be afraid to report them to the airline if you ever face this situation. This behaviour is not acceptable and the airline will not tolerate it. We get enough buying opportunities on-flight, we don't need any more!
11 Sleep on the plane
Even for long flights, it's not always acceptable for an air attendant to nap on the plane. This rule is a bit more flexible than the others on here. They sometimes have the opportunity to rest, but for the majority of the time, they are not allowed. Though again, this may differ between airlines. For corporate flight attendant and founder of DMC Travel Tailor Stefany DiManno Ceccato, this isn't a problem. ''I don’t feel comfortable sleeping on the plane on overnight flights in case the passenger wakes up and needs service and also I like to check on the pilots to make sure they are awake and have what they need to promote a safe flight!'' Then again, it does lot somewhat unprofessional if you have a problem and you can't wake up the flight attendant because they're catching their forty winks.
10 Accept your tip
You may be happy with the service of your flight attendant, but don't bring out your wallet just yet. According to McCord, flight attendants are not allowed to take tips. ''They don’t want you to take tips,'' she says. ''Everything’s included in the airfare. They don’t want people to feel like they have to tip, because it’s our job. She has a point. There are enough opportunities to tip in the world. Whether it's at a restaurant, in a taxi or at your hairdresser's, we always feel obliged to tip in our society. Even though we are paying for a service anyway. Why should we feel obliged to tip on a flight too? Travel is expensive enough. In other words, save your cash for when you land. Flight attendants cannot accept your tip anyway.
9 Let you see them without their uniform
Many of the strict requirements for flight attendants involving their grooming habits have been revoked. However, there are still many strict requirements they have to abide by. One of them is ensuring that you, the passengers, do not see them out of their uniform. Flight attendant McCord says that some attendants will change into their uniform on the plane. But interaction with the passengers without wearing a uniform is a big no-no. It is definitely frowned upon. Now it makes sense why we always see flight attendants wearing their uniform while trailing their suitcases along behind them through arrivals. It's because they do not want customers to see them without it. Even off the flight, they have to abide by that dress code otherwise their job could be in jeopardy.
8 Stow your bags
Many people believe that it is the flight attendant's job to stow your bags, but that's not the case. Flight attendants aren't actually allowed to lift your bags. That's because it could cause an injury and it has already caused many injuries which has sparked worker complaints. ''The rule is, if you can’t lift it into the overhead bin yourself, check it,” says Shawn Kathleen, a former flight attendant. If it is too heavy, that's got to be a clear sign that it needs to be checked in. It's pretty obnoxious to expect the flight attendant to do all the lifting. But according to Kathleen, there are some things flight attendants can help you with. ''A flight attendant can help you push your bag further into the bin once it’s up there or help you close the door, but that’s about it.''
7 Use flights for business travel
One of the benefits of being a flight attendant is that you get lots of free flights. However, those flights should only be used for personal vacations—not business travel. So if a flight attendant tried to take advantage of a free flight to attend a conference for another job, they could land themselves in a whole lot of trouble. We get why this would be forbidden. They are, after all, employed by the airline. Using their free flights bonus for trips for a separate job doesn't exactly sound like a fair thing to do. We can see why they'd get in a lot of trouble for it. Aren't the free flights for personal vacations good enough? It sounds good enough to us anyway.
6 Bring anything on board
Movies may have told you otherwise but in reality, flight attendants are not allowed to bring anything they want on board. Just like us, they have to undergo a security check prior to entering the plane. It is not an open door policy for attendants. They also cannot bring anything on the plane that wouldn't get through security. So if you thought flight attendants got a free pass as far as hand luggage goes, you were mistaken. How could anyone think that anyway? You've seen how it is at airport security. You can't get much tighter than the security systems at airports. It's pretty obvious that air attendants would have to endure the security checks too. They may be employees, but that doesn't mean they can break the rules.
5 Enter the cockpit anytime they like
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You may have seen flight attendants entering the cockpit now and again during flights, but they can't go in anytime they want. They have to follow a strict procedure, for security reasons of course. ''Usually, you have to phone them first and let them know you’re coming in,'' says McCord. ''Usually, there are codes on the door. You have someone who holds the curtain when you’re going in the door so nobody else can run through.'' And we are glad to hear it. We wouldn't be too happy to hear that anyone can barge into the cockpit anytime they feel like it. It's comforting to know that there are codes on the door and that, even the airline staff have to inform the pilots prior to entering.
4 Let you switch seats
Switching seats on a flight doesn't sound like a big deal. But apparently it is. It's a very big deal as a matter of fact. ''A lot of people assume we can just get people to move,'' says McCord. ''That’s not up to us. On the manifest for the plane, everything like your bag is attached to your seat number.'' So if the next time you're on a plane and you'd like to switch seasons for some reason or another, don't expect the flight attendant to give you a helping hand. They are prohibited from allowing passengers switch seats. It makes sense and we're glad that this rule applies. Can you imagine the chaos if everyone was switching seats mid-flight? What a relief that this doesn't happen!
3 Let you stand in the galley
It would be interesting to know the number of people who try hanging out in the galley, wouldn't it? It's never crossed our minds to have a chat, practice yoga, help with the cooking or whatever in there. With the exception of unbuckling our seats and possibly waiting in line for the toilet, we don't mess around when we're out of our seats. We remain firmly seated for most of if not all of the flight, depending on its length of course. So let this be a warning to anyone who has tried to hang out in the kitchen: you are not allowed in there. In the case that you attempt having a chat in there, you'll soon be escorted by one of the flight attendants because they are not allowed to let you in there. The galley is flight attendant territory.
2 Tarnish their rep in uniform
We perceive air attendants as these immaculate, perfect little beings who keep us safe on board and ensure we are comfortable throughout the flight. It would be strange to see a flight attendant acting in an disrespectful manner because, on-flight, they possess impeccable manners. The airline clearly wants us to see them that way because it makes us feel safe on the plane and we respect the airline for it too. So it's no surprise that the air attendants are not allowed to tarnish their reputation while dressed in their uniform. According to McCord, ''Whenever you’re wearing your uniform, you’re supposed to be very respectable. You’re not supposed to be in the bar or sit around in a hotel lobby with drinks if you’re in your uniform.''
1 Ask the pilot to fly faster
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Do flight attendants really hear this request from passengers? Apparently so. But Shawn Kathleen says it's one of the funny requests that they actually do not mind. ''But at least that request makes us laugh,” says Kathleen. Flights are long and often tedious but you can't expect the captain to fly faster just so you can get to your destination faster. However, it is more likely that the people who make this request are the ones with connecting flights. We can see how it would be stressful to ensure you don't miss your next flight, but it's a good reason to make sure you give yourself plenty of time in the future when booking flights. Flight attendants aren't allowed to ask the pilot to fly faster, believe it or not.