10 Most Annoying Airline Passengers, As Told By a Flight Attendant

Written by Brandi Lynn

flight attendantIf I could have one superhero power it would be the ability to snap my fingers and get to any destination I could dream of. But I’m a mere mortal so I had to become a a wing-wearin’, heel-stomping, drink-slinging flight attendant.
People like asking the same questions over and over. My worst flight ever? Stuck with a passenger drunk off his socks. Favorite destination? Rome. Ever dated a pilot? Oh my god, NO.

But no one ever stops to ask me the question I’m dying to answer: What can a passenger do to annoy a flight attendant? So now it’s my turn. I present the 10 Most Annoying Passenger Habits.

10) Frowning Faces: I like smiles. I especially like them come row 40, so please, throw a smile my way. Sounds easy enough, right?

9) Misuse of Overhead Compartments: If you’re one of the first 10 passengers to board, shoving your jacket into the overhead bin is a total a-hole move. It’s frustrating to have to check someone’s carry-on because your jacket has taken up half the overhead bin when it could easily have gone under the seat in front of you.brandi lynn flight attendant

8) Creating Obstacles in the Aisle: Legs, feet, shoulders, elbows, knees, heads … bags, purses, shoes, pillows … Aisles are small. Galley carts are big. It’s hard seeing around a 200-lb. galley cart, so I hit countless body parts daily (and feel terrible doing it). I’m asking — no, I’m begging — please keep all of your personal objects, and your person, out of the aisle until I’ve passed you. Then, feel free to take the aisle back over.

7) Rolling Your Eyes When I Can’t Help You Hoist Your Carry-On Into the Overhead Bin: I understand that you might need a hand getting your luggage into the overhead. I can’t risk hurting myself for you or your bag — I don’t want to get an OJI (on the job injury) and be out of work. I’m genuinely sorry I have to say no. I really am … until you roll your eyes. Then, you’ve lost all sympathy

6) Not Paying Attention to My Exit-Row Briefing: Your chatting on the phone/talking to the person next to you during my exit-row briefing is not only annoying, but it gives me the right to remove you from that row with extra leg room. I have to know you are willing and able to do what I’m asking. It’s simple. Listen for a minute (yes, I know you’ve “heard this 200 times before, but it’s not going to kill you to listen again and then I’ll be on my way. That simple.

5) Leaving Your Headphones on While Ordering: “Whaaaaat?” Press pause, take them out for just a tiny moment and tell me what you want. I’ll love you for life.

4) Telling Me What My Job Is: I’m paid to handle an emergency situation. My slinging drinks, chat-chatting andflight attendant hot meal being friendly while bringing you blankets, tissues, cups of water and little peanuts is just an added bonus for you. If you have a heart attack and there’s no doctor on the plane, I’m there and can try to keep your heart going. So please, please do not tell me what my job is.

3) Complaining About My Limited Food Supply: We know airlines used to serve free, hot meals in main cabin. We also know many airlines have gone bankrupt in the past 10 years. They have had to make cuts — from no meals to fewer flights to outrageous bag-check fees — which suck all around. But I have no control over that, so please keep your comments to yourself — or write a letter.

2) Handing Me Dirty Diapers: Ewww. There is a lavatory on every airplane with a very nice and well-functioning garbage can. Enough said.

1) Poking Me: It’s rude to point, so it logically follows that it’s super-rude to poke/touch/rub/violate your crew members. Keep fingers and hands to yourself please. I have enough bruises from pointy fingers jabbing into my shoulder and butt to last a lifetime.

Bonus Tip: Bring any kind of candy for a crew member, and you are pretty much getting special treatment from that point on. We always remember those nice folks toward the back who brought us some Hershey’s Kisses …

Read more about Brandi’s adventures both in-flight and on the ground at her blog Excess Baggage

20 thoughts on “10 Most Annoying Airline Passengers, As Told By a Flight Attendant

  1. Georgene Sanchez

    former F/A & this was a very TRUE Assement, THANK YOU… UAL flight crew.l

  2. Bill

    Coming up next week: The 10 most annoying flight attendants as told by frequent travelers.

  3. John

    Brandi –

    A great article. I learned first-hand about the real work you folks do. I had a panic attack before the plane took off. (I was flying on September 12, after watching a lot of TV specials the night before — now you know why I was panicked.) A great flight attendant hustled me off the plane, talked to me, calmed me down and got me back on the flight. Later, as we were talking, he told me of the extraordinary training you go through to keep the passengers safe during all kinds of emergencies. I felt so much more confident about flying, once I discovered your real job.

    So, you can keep the peanuts and the pillows and the cocktails, just having you on duty is enough for me!

  4. Kurt

    I happen to have known the first Cabin Attendant, Ellen Church, and know that she was there for passengers’ safety, not their comfort (beyond being known as the person there for safety.) After all, she was a Registered Nurse, not a cocktail waitress. . . Next time I fly I’m bringing a bag of Hershey Miniatures!!

  5. Dover

    This list sounds pretty right on but don’t forget that nowadays most passengers have paid a ridiculous amount of money to get from A to B and have often been in travel mode for hours (or days) so as an attendant try to forgive some of these issues. I know, you are in travel mode all of the time but again, you are being paid the whole time.

  6. Michael

    Common misconception Dover, flight attendant from canada here… until the plane pushes back to the time the plane arrives is the only time we are paid. If there is a 4 hour delay at the gate we get nothing until the plane leaves. So when you see us running around on the ground getting everybody settled, fixing seat issues, getting your glass of water for a pill, briefing and all the other fun stuff we do before we leave we are not being paid. Just something to consider. Love the blog!

  7. willem

    Dear Brandi,

    This is a good list to keep in mind I think. I’m a frequent flyer and this is some great insight I find very useful. I actually came across this article through John’s reply. On my very last flight (with BA) I had an overnight layover of 12 hours on London Heathrow. I had to check in at 5/5:30. Afraid of oversleeping I remained awake at the airport.

    On the plain I got panicky and had to tell the attendant (I kinda disturbed her briefing and she guided me straight to another attendant). This flight attendent (and I love her to death for it) was so sweet and relaxed me down. I felt totally comfortable again. I always had respect for you guys because of your patience, but because of this I respect you even more.

    I thanked her for it when I left the plane, but I wish I could have told her boss how great she is..

    Thanks for this article though, I’ll try to be your best passenger;)
    goodluck up there

  8. Airline Toll free Number

    Most likely the food is being complained and that's really annoying for some passengers on board. Well for me, poking me is the worst annoying moment ever because that is disrespecting the flight attendant.

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