Over the last few decades, there’s been a significant increase in the number of people who travel abroad for their vacations. Ten years ago, the global airline industry recorded roughly 25.9 million flights throughout the year. Eight years later, that figure had increased to 36.4 million. Estimates for 2019 put the total at around 39.4 million, suggesting that airline use is continuously on the up.
For all these flights to run smoothly, it’s vital that everyone working with the airlines does their job correctly. That includes the flight attendants who ensure that all passengers are catered for while en route to their destination. Their job is far from easy, and it turns out there’s a lot they do that we never knew about before.
It seems that these flight attendants have quite a few secrets up their sleeves, and now they’ve finally shared them with the world.
The reason they keep their hands behind their backs
Have you ever noticed anything about the way that flight attendants stand? Typically, when these men and women greet passengers on a plane, they’ll have their hands behind their backs. Obviously, part of the reason for this is that it looks formal and polite, reassuring passengers that they’re in good hands.
However, it appears there’s more to this stance than that. Apparently, attendants will also stand like this because it lets them count passengers on their fingers. They know how many people are supposed to be on the flight, so it’s vital they do a headcount before taking off. However, counting on their fingers in front of the passengers probably wouldn’t look very professional. So, they do it out of sight.
Secret compartment for napping
Flight attendants might be dedicated to their jobs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a break too. After being on their feet for hours serving refreshments and meeting people’s needs, they need to take a load off. That’s why some planes have secret sleeping quarters where crew members can rest their eyes.
You will typically find these on long-haul flights where the journey can sometimes take as long as half a day. No-one should have to work for that many hours without stopping, hence why these compartments exist. They’re typically built above or below the galley on larger planes like a Boeing 777 or 787. They give flight attendants the perfect place to rest before getting back to work.
The mile-high restrictions
If you have friends with dirty minds, they may well have asked if you joined the mile-high club the last time you were on a plane. For those not in the know, this is a very exclusive club that you can only join if you’ve gotten frisky with a partner while flying. You might be thinking to yourself how exactly two people can get away with such a thing.
After all, the restrooms in planes aren’t typically very big, and they’re probably not soundproofed either. Well, you’d be right to have doubts, because it’s incredibly rare that stuff like this happens. Flight attendants always seem to have one eye on the restroom, presumably to stop people from joining the mile-high club.
Don’t go barefoot
It can be difficult getting comfortable when you’re stuck on a plane for hours at a time. You only have so much leg room where you are, and pushing your seat back always makes things more awkward for the person behind you. Of course, there are ways that you can increase your comfort while traveling on a plane.
Some people choose to take their shoes and socks off so that they feel more like they’re at home. Unfortunately, not everyone loves when passengers do this. As well as being off-putting for other travelers, flight attendants advise against it because it’s not particularly hygienic. You never know when you might step in something that was dropped on the floor by accident.
Personal time with passengers
Strangely enough, it’s not just their colleagues that flight attendants are allowed to hook up with. Apparently, there aren’t rules against airline staff getting cozy with their passengers if they so wish. Obviously, they shouldn’t engage in any romantic behavior while on a flight because it wouldn’t look professional. We doubt that those in charge would be particularly happy if one of their employees decided to join the mile-high club.
However, once the plane has arrived, the attendant is more than welcome to get to know their passengers better. Of course, just because this kind of behavior is allowed, that doesn’t mean the staff engages in it. They’re probably sick and tired of their customers trying to flirt with them by now.
Secretly on their phones
Considering how often flight attendants tell people not to use their cell phones before takeoff, you might think that the crew hates these devices. However, that’s most definitely not the case. It turns out that these attendants actually use their phones frequently while in the air. Obviously, you never see them doing this because it wouldn’t be professional.
They want to set a good example for the passengers and let them know that they’re devoted to the job. However, when everyone’s back is turned, many of these people can’t help but check out their socials or browse the internet. We don’t blame them. It’s not like they have much to occupy their time when people aren’t asking them for assistance.
A passenger in disguise
You can never be sure when danger’s going to strike. The last thing you want is for that to happen when you’re 30,000 feet in the air and have no means of escape. That’s why air marshals exist. These people are there to take action should any criminals try their luck on the plane. Of course, unless something happens, you’ll probably never even realize that an air marshal was on your flight.
These people dress in civilian clothes and act like any other passenger so they can blend in. It’s only when trouble starts that they reveal their true colors. Although there isn’t an air marshal on all flights, there’s every chance that there could be one on yours.
It’s not about the money
There are some jobs that people do because they love the money, and others that they do because it’s what they’re passionate about. We can say with reasonable confidence that most people don’t become flight attendants for the former reason. The pay isn’t as glamorous as you might think, especially as these people only really earn money when they’re in the air.
Attendants aren’t considered to be doing their job until the journey has started, so before that happens, they’re only paid a small amount. This can reportedly be a rate of just $1.50 an hour which is nothing at all. Given how often flights can be delayed, it makes you wonder if all their hard work is really worth it.
Keeping it to themselves
As we said before, keeping passengers at ease is incredibly important. There’s no reason to worry everyone unless they absolutely have to. While some passengers might not appreciate this, others are probably grateful to be kept out of the loop. Ignorance is bliss, after all, especially if the issue gets resolved without any trouble.
Apparently, flight attendants are so desperate to keep passengers happy that they won’t even tell them if there’s a bomb threat. That might seem like too big an issue to keep to themselves, but if the plane is over the ocean, then they’ll keep their mouths shut. It makes you wonder exactly what’s been happening behind the scenes every time you’ve been relaxing on a plane somewhere.
They fight back
Flight attendants might look harmless, but if you try to mess with them, they won’t refrain from fighting back. These men and women have the authority to restrain any passengers who are behaving unruly, especially if it seems like they might harm another traveler. They typically do this using zip ties, although if there aren’t any available, they can just use the seatbelt extensions instead.
These flight attendants don’t typically enjoy doing this, but they’ll do what they have to do to ensure that everyone else has a safe and relaxing flight. People who are restrained by staff members are usually put somewhere they can’t disrupt others, before being escorted off the plane when it lands. Don’t let this be you.
Using secret codes
There are a lot of duties that flight attendants have to take on when they’re hired for the job. However, while they’re doing these tasks, they also have to keep passengers happy and relaxed. Flying on a plane can be a terrifying experience for people, especially when it seems like something is going wrong.
Flight attendants don’t want passengers freaking out when they’re 30,000 feet in the air, which is why they often communicate using secret codes. These allow the crew to exchange messages with one another without drawing any attention from everyone else. That’s particularly helpful if there’s a problem with the plane that they don’t want anyone to worry about. There’s no point in inciting panic unless it’s absolutely necessary.
No Diet Coke
There’s not much to do when you’re on a flight, which is why people get so excited when the attendants come around offering refreshments. Not only does this break the boredom of the journey, but it also gives you something to keep your energy up. Considering that airlines are very strict about bringing liquids onto a plane, this is usually the only opportunity you have to quench your thirst.
While there are often a variety of drinks on offer, it seems there’s one thing you should avoid asking for. Apparently, flight attendants hate it when people want a Diet Coke because they’re fizzier than most other drinks. That means they have to be more careful when pouring it, which just wastes everyone’s time.
Avoid tea and coffee
It appears that it’s not just Diet Coke that you should refrain from ordering while on a plane. According to some flight attendants, you should also stay away from tea and coffee, although the reason for this is quite different. Supposedly, the tanks that are used for the water in these beverages aren’t actually cleaned out that often.
You’d think that the staff would prioritize hygiene given how many passengers probably have these hot drinks every day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. What’s more, the valve for this water is sometimes dangerously close to the one that’s used in the restroom. We don’t know about you, but even if these attendants are professionals, that’s still a bit too close to comfort for us.
Bring your own bottle
Although airport security will take any drinks away from you, it seems there is a way you can get around this. Rather than bringing a bottle that’s already filled up, just take an empty one instead. The staff won’t have any reason to dispose of it because there’s no liquid inside. Then, once you’ve gotten through the security barriers, fill the bottle up at one of the water fountains that are around.
This way, you’ll have something to drink without having to pay a dime. Considering how much flights will sometimes charge for stuff like this, you could be saving yourself quite a bit of money. Plus, you won’t have to waste a flight attendant’s time asking them to get you some water.
Extra luggage isn’t an issue
Packing for a flight can be a nightmare. Not only do you have to work out what you need on your vacation, but you also have to avoid going over the baggage limit. Given how much it can cost to put your luggage on a plane, the last thing you need is to incur any extra charges. However, while airlines might be incredibly strict when it comes to bags, it seems they don’t need to be.
Planes have to have the right center of gravity, which means the staff finds ways to balance things out when there aren’t enough bags stowed away. In the past, that’s meant using sandbags, although more luggage could have easily done the trick as well.
Don’t mess with the signal
We live in a world where most of the population now seems to own a cell phone. Of course, when you’re on a plane, that can be an issue. After all, the crew strictly advise that you have your device turned off – or at least be on flight mode – during takeoff and landing. Many people assume that not doing this could interfere with the plane somehow and cause it to crash.
That’s not the case. Having your phone on at the start and end of your flight won’t cause the vehicle to malfunction. However, it could mess with the air traffic control frequencies. It’s best to avoid this if you don’t want to get delayed in the air or on the runway.
Use your own headphones
When you’re stuck on a flight for several hours, you need to find a way to pass the time. You can read, talk with your loved ones – if they’re with you – or maybe listen to music. Watching the world pass by below you while you enjoy your favorite tunes can be an excellent way to make the hours fly by.
Of course, if you’re going to do this, then you’ll need some headphones. We doubt that the other passengers will appreciate listening to your music for the whole flight, regardless of how good you think it is. Although airlines sometimes provide headphones, you’re typically better off bringing your own. After all, the ones offered on the flight aren’t always free – or cheap.
Politeness is everything
It goes without saying that you should be polite to all the people who work at an airport. From security personnel to flight attendants, everyone there is trying to ensure you have a safe and comfortable journey. Sure, things go wrong, and it sometimes feels like these employees are working against you, but that’s rarely ever the case.
Besides, it’s not like getting angry with them will really help the situation. You’re always better off being polite, especially as showing kindness can actually work to your advantage. For instance, being nice to the check-in staff could actually land you a better seat on the plane. After all, they know who’s sitting where on the flight, so they have all the power.
A blemish on your record
Not only does it pay to be polite, but it can also hurt you quite significantly if you’re rude. Those who are frequent flyers will find their reputation tarnished if they’re badly behaved, with their rudeness being marked on their account. Every time that you book a flight, the staff will take note of the fact that you’re considered a troublemaker.
This basically rules out any opportunities to earn yourself perks, no matter how polite you are in the future. Although your reputation won’t be ruined simply for talking back to someone, it will put you on thin ice. It’s best that you refrain from letting your frustrations out on anyone, even if something has really gotten on your nerves.
While being rude will get you nowhere, being kind will get you everywhere. All flight attendants wish to be treated with respect, especially given how many people they deal with on a daily basis. Even small things like being told “thank you” can really brighten their day because it doesn’t happen as often as you might think.
Small pleasantries like this could potentially earn you big rewards, with passengers getting upgraded in the past simply because they were nice. Considering the potential outcome, surely a little extra kindness isn’t too much to ask? We’d end every sentence with “please” and “thank you” if it meant that we’d get a more comfortable seat, especially if the flight were a long-haul one.
The downside of first-class
Of course, being in first class isn’t necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be. Many people assume that this part of the plane is the only one worth sitting it. Obviously, the greater comfort and priority from staff is great to have, particularly if your flight lasts several hours. However, when it comes to safety, first-class is actually the worst place to be.
According to some studies, when a plane crashes, it’s those who are closer to the front of the plane that usually don’t make it. It appears that the further back you are, the better your chance of survival. This is presumably because planes tend to hit the ground head-first, so the front has the greatest impact upon landing.
Fraternizing with one another
Relationships with colleagues are typically a bad idea. After all, if things go south between two coworkers, then it can make things incredibly awkward on the job. As fun as it might be to work with the person you love, the risk doesn’t always seem worth it. Of course, some jobs don’t even allow employees to get together in the first place.
They ban this kind of thing because of the problems it creates, meaning the staff just have to keep it in their pants. Fortunately for flight attendants, those rules aren’t usually in place. These people are free to hook up with one another, so long as they remain professional at all times. The job still comes first, after all.
Difficult to get into
There are probably some people who look at what flight attendants do and think that it’s easy. However, there’s much more to this job than just smiling at passengers and handing out refreshments. Apparently, the work is so highly-skilled that employers are very picky about who they hire. Getting the job can be so tough that people sometimes have a better chance of being accepted to Harvard than to Delta Airlines.
When the company opened up around 1,000 positions in 2010, more than 100,000 people applied. Only a slim amount of those applications received a response, presumably because they had incredible customer service skills and were possibly bilingual. These are things that definitely help when it comes to this job.
Hold off on Starbucks
When you go somewhere to grab a coffee, there’s a good chance you head to Starbucks. The chain has become so popular with people that there now seems to be a café around every corner. However, while Starbucks and it’s selections of coffees, teas, and Frappuccinos might be incredibly appealing, you might want to reconsider going there before your flight.
That’s because some airlines actually provide free drinks from Starbucks when you’re traveling. Delta and Alaska Airlines both offer this as a complimentary service on their flights. So, not only do you get a beverage free of charge, but you also get a coffee that you know is excellent quality. None of that questionable stuff that might be mixed with restroom water.
Lacking in nutrition
Depending on how long your flight is and who you’re traveling with, the food you get will differ. Some airlines will offer you little more than a snack, while others will provide a full-blown meal. While the latter probably sounds ideal, especially if you’re on a long-haul flight, you might want to think again. It seems that a lot of the meals provided by these airlines aren’t always as nutritional as they appear.
Supposedly, they contain significant doses of sugar, fat, and other things you shouldn’t eat too much of. While that probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially if this is only one meal, it’s still not great. After all, you should always value nutrition in your food.
Steer clear of wrapping
If you’re traveling somewhere during the holiday season, it’s quite likely that you’ll be taking gifts with you. For instance, perhaps you’re going to celebrate the festivities with family who lives in another part of the United States. If that’s the case, you might want to think twice about wrapping your presents beforehand.
After all, there’s a chance that airport security may need to investigate what you’re transporting, so they’ll have to open your gifts. Rather than go through the hassle of wrapping things up twice, you’re better off just waiting until you land. You’ll probably have at least a bit of time to do this before you need to hand anything over. If not, just use gift bags instead.
Leaving a tip
It seems that being kind to flight attendants extends to more than just saying something nice. Apparently, there are no rules against you tipping them as thanks for their hard work. Obviously, they don’t have any expectations for you to pay them, and they won’t accept your money if they feel it’s a bribe.
You can’t wave a $20 bill in their face and suggest that they bump you up to first class. However, if you wish to show them your gratitude without having an ulterior motive, then it could really pay off. If you don’t get anything out of it, at least you’ll know that you made their day a little brighter. Surely that alone is worth giving a tip, no?
Sleeping on the job
We can’t imagine how much pressure pilots must face every time they do their job. Flying a plane isn’t easy, and making a mistake could cost dozens – if not hundreds – of lives. With that in mind, you’d probably expect pilots to be alert the whole time they’re in the driver’s seat. However, that’s not actually the case.
It seems that these people often take naps while on the job, even though they have all these huge responsibilities. That’s because the plane mostly flies itself when it’s in the air. The pilots play an important role during takeoff and landing, but between then, the weight is largely off their shoulders. Of course, they’ll never admit that they enjoy sleeping on the job.
Alongside hot drinks and sodas, you can also grab yourself refreshments on your flight that are a little more adult. Sometimes, this is the best way to go, especially if the plane is full of screaming children. However, you should make sure not to get a little too out of control with your drinking. If a flight attendant things you’ve had too much, they will cut you off.
That’s because it’s illegal for them to intentionally make passengers intoxicated. The last thing they want to do is break the law for someone they’ve never met before, so they’ll just stop serving you. Besides, you shouldn’t want to push the limit anyway because it’s also illegal to be intoxicated on a flight.
In emergency situations
It’s never great when someone has a medical emergency in the middle of a flight. Unfortunately, these things happen out of the blue, so you have to be prepared for them to strike at any moment. Thankfully, all members of the flight crew are trained to deal with issues like this. Before someone can become an attendant, it’s essential that they know stuff like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
That way, they can respond immediately whenever an emergency happens on the plane. Of course, there’s only so much that these people can learn without getting a medical degree. That’s why if they don’t know how to deal with a certain issue, they’ll ask if there are any doctors on board.
Other people’s illness
Sometimes, the best way to get comfortable on a flight is to ask for a pillow. Not only will this help you to relax, but it can also make it easier to drift off. That’s ideal if you want to start combating jet lag before you arrive at your destination. Unfortunately, as comfortable as these pillows might be, they’re not the cleanest things out there.
Apparently, they don’t get washed until the end of the day, meaning you could be resting your head on someone else’s germs. That’s not what you want, especially if you’re about to go on vacation. It may be worth investing in your own travel pillow simply to avoid picking up something unpleasant during your journey.
Covered in germs
It seems that it’s not just the pillows that are covered in germs. The blankets have the same issues, too, with people not cleaning them until after they’ve been used several times. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the food trays. Apparently, these things are more frequently used for holding dirty items than food, although that’s not the worst of it.
According to reports, these trays are only usually cleaned about once a day. Just imagining all the germs that could be on there when you’re served a meal is nauseating. It’s no wonder that so many people get sick after they’ve traveled somewhere. Planes basically act as a breeding ground for germs because not enough is done to clean them.
The main reason some people are afraid of flying is that they fear that the plane might crash. Obviously, there is a risk of this, just like there is with any vehicle. However, the likelihood of it happening is relatively slim. If the plane does experience problems, though, it’s essential that you know what you’re doing.
The reason that flight attendants always do safety demonstrations is so you know how to look after yourself and escape in an emergency. One thing that they tell you before every flight is how to put on your oxygen masks. However, what they don’t reveal is that these things only provide around 12-15 minutes worth of oxygen. That’s why it’s important you don’t panic in these situations.
Dirtier than it looks
The floor of a plane probably looks relatively clean when you’re trying to find your seat. However, looks can be deceiving. You might not notice any obvious mess, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any there. All sorts of things end up on the floor during flights, from food and drink to bodily fluids.
It’s not worth thinking about what might have fallen down there, especially given how casually the staff seems to be about cleaning. If things like food trays and pillows only reportedly get one wash a day, what are the chances that the floor gets special treatment? It’s no wonder that flight attendants don’t like people walking around with bare feet. They know how dirty the floor could be.
Quietly judging you
Whenever you board a plane, you can expect a flight attendant to be standing by the door, welcoming you in. As we said before, they’re there to do a headcount and ensure that everyone is on the plane. However, that’s not all they’re doing. Apparently, this is their opportunity to size you up and work out whether they need to keep an eye on you.
This might be because you’ll potentially need help during the flight, or because you could be a troublemaker. You’d never be able to tell that they’re doing this while they’re greeting you with a smile. However, behind the pleasant demeanor, they’re judging you immensely. It’s just another way to ensure that they do their job efficiently.
Exercising your rights
It’s highly likely that if you’ve ever caught a plane before, you’ve had to deal with delays. This seems to be a regular thing, although such issues are usually accounted for in the flight time. While some delays are relatively short, like 15 minutes or so, others can drag on for hours. In those situations, you have a decision to make.
Apparently, if you’ve been sat on the runway for three hours with no movement, you have every right to get off the plane. The staff can’t force you to stay on any longer than that. What’s more, flight attendants are also reportedly required to provide food and water if the delay takes over two hours. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Adjusting to the dark
Have you ever wondered why the lights on a plane are switched off at the beginning and end of a flight? No-one ever explains this during the safety demonstrations, although there’s no reason it should be kept a secret. Apparently, it’s all about helping passenger’s eyes to adjust to their surroundings in case of an emergency.
Taking off and landing are the worst parts of any flight because they’re when things are most likely to go wrong. If anything should happen at this time, there’s a good chance the lights will go out. Obviously, it can be difficult to find your way around when you’re thrown into darkness. However, if your eyes have already had time to adjust, then it’s less problematic.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the years about whether or not the brace position is useful. It was initially introduced as a way to help passengers to protect themselves should the plane crash. However, it wasn’t long before people began wondering if it actually did more harm than good.
They suggested that getting into this position – which involves cupping the back of your head and putting it on your knees – could actually be problematic. Debates have long raged over this matter, although it seems that fears about it being dangerous have now been put to rest. Apparently, the brace position is ideal during a crash because it actually helps protect your vital organs from serious damage, thereby keeping you alive.
Looking the part
If you want to get a job as a flight attendant, you should know that there are certain criteria you need to meet first. For one, you can’t have dyed hair. Apparently, employees are only allowed to rock natural colors, presumably because it’s less divisive for passengers. Moreover, you also need to be a certain height, although what that is depends on what plane you’ll be working on.
After all, you need to be tall enough to reach overhead lockers while still being short enough that you don’t hit your head. This might seem picky, but if you’re going to spend hours on a flight, you don’t want to be bending down the whole time. That’s not good for your body.
It’s not for everyone
It’s easy to assume that flight attendants have a very comfortable job. They get to spend their days flying from one exotic destination to another, all while doing work that some wouldn’t consider too taxing. However, while it might look like they have a glamorous set-up, that’s not the case.
Flight attendants regularly have to fight jet lag because they’re continually hopping between time zones, while also sometimes working back-to-back shifts. They also don’t get to see their loved ones as often as they’d like because they’re always on the other side of the world. Being an attendant requires a lot of sacrifices, so it’s definitely not a job for everyone. However, we appreciate all the people who do it.