Ever wondered what are the most annoying things that passengers do on an airplane according to Flight Attendants?
As a former Flight Attendant myself I’ll tell you first hand – some passengers can be pretty annoying! It’s often like they left their common sense at the aircraft door. They do some strange things, some quite selfish things – and some down-right rude things too! Let’s take a look at the most annoying things passengers do on an airplane according to Flight Attendants!
Note that interestingly, many of the things passengers do that are deemed annoying to Flight Attendants are because of the impact these actions have on the safety of other passengers and how it can cause delays. The reasons for Flight Attendants getting annoyed might not be obvious to you initially, so I hope to unfold those reasons here.
1. Incorrect Use of the Call Bell
The good old call bell. The button used to alert crew of a medical emergency a passenger is having – a stroke, a severe allergic reaction, a seizure for example. The button also used by passengers when they want someone to bring them a drink. Or a snack. Or a blanket. Or a new set of headphones. Or their screen has broke. Or because they want something from their bag in the overhead luggage compartment and they just can’t be bothered to get it, so ask you to come and get it for them. And trust me, yes shockingly some people are that cheeky. 🙂
Of course the call bell is for passenger’s convenience and we want you to have an enjoyable flight. But pressing the call bell every 20 minutes because you want another drink ain’t cool. Plus it’s not good for your circulation for you to be sat so long on a flight! Get up, walk to the galley and ask us for a drink. Hey maybe you’ll even get two if you ask nicely. 🙂
Try to limit your call bell use. I’m not saying this because Flight Attendants are too lazy to walk down the aisle to you. I’m saying it for a much more important reason:
Overuse of the call bell is selfish as it can delay the crew’s response to dealing with a passenger who is using the call bell for a genuine medical emergency that needs timely assistance.
2. Passengers Standing Up Before the Seatbelt Sign has been switched off
We get it. You’re in a rush to get home. So are we. You want to get your bags down, you want to beat the queues at Immigration, you want to use the airport wifi. But the cabin door isn’t going to open until a few minutes after the engines have been switched off as the stairs/airbridge needs to be connected. So why are you standing up so soon? Even by rushing to be one of the first off you’ll only save yourself probably 1 minute.
The main reason flight attendants get annoyed when passengers stand up before the seatbelt sign has been switched off is for passenger safety.
Just because the plane has landed it doesn’t mean you are safe: only when the plane has parked and the engines are off and the Captain has switched off the seatbelt sign it is safe for you to unfasten your seatbelt. Often the plane can be stationary for a few moments whilst is it waiting to get into it’s final parking position and then it will move again. When this happens when passengers are stood up, it often causes the passengers to lose their balance and stumble. It could create an injury to themselves or to another passenger, especially if they have opened the overhead stowage containers. Think of it this way: you don’t undo your car seatbelt until the car has parked so why is it any different with an aeroplane?
3. Passengers asking you to put their bags up in the hat rack
We understand you’ve been carrying your bags for a long time and that you’re tired of it. But we don’t know how heavy your bag is, plus most of us just aren’t strong enough to lift every bag into the overhead stowage. Nor should we be expected to.
Many Flight Attendants have sustained serious back injuries from lifting passengers bags into the overhead cabinets.
Some Flight Attendants have even never been able to fly again because of the injuries. And many airlines don’t pay the crew sick pay if they injure themselves lifting a passengers bag. Therefore the crew need to protect themselves so they stay injury-free. Some airlines such as Qantas even totally prohibit their staff from helping passengers with their bags to prevent and minimise work related injuries.
If you can’t manage to lift your bag into the overhead stowage, be prepared for it to be put in the cargo. If you have an injury or are struggling, of course ask crew and we will happily assist or get someone else to help. But just don’t presume we will lift your bag for you.
4. Passengers not listening to your safety instructions
You all know the drill for take-off and landing. Seatbelts on, seats forward, tray tables up, window blinds open, bags stowed away, phones off or set to flight mode. We don’t patrol the cabin looking for people to tell off, we just need to make sure the cabin is secure for take-off and landing for everyone’s safety.
All safety instructions we ask you to comply with are there because there is an important safety reason behind it.
90% of emergencies happen during take-off and landing. You have roughly 90 seconds to get everyone out of the plane in an evacuation. So if the plane needs to be evacuated it’s going to make the process a whole lot slower if bags are in the way (which people could trip over) and seats are back, making it hard for the people behind you to get out.
If passengers and belongings are not secure the Captain may delay take-off or landing in order to prevent any injuries.
The Captain should receive the phone call from the Cabin Crew that the cabin is secure before taking off/landing. Airplanes take off at a speed of around 250 km/h and land at a speed of around 150 km/h so we need all passengers, belongings and equipment to be secure. The reason we want window blinds to be open is so we can see outside incase of an emergency and also if there is a problem with any of the engines (eg: engine fire) so we call urgently call the Captain.
5. Passengers opening the Overhead Stowage again once you’ve closed it
Generally during boarding once a hat rack becomes full, cabin crew will go around and close them. This helps the crew identify how much space is left in the overhead bins for remaining bags. It also means the final aircraft door can be closed quicker, meaning the flight will take off quicker as staff are being proactive at getting the cabin ready for take-off. In the majority of airlines, even if all passengers are onboard, the final aircraft door cannot be closed until all hat racks are closed. Therefore:
Passengers re-opening closed hat racks and not closing them again can delay the closing of the aircraft door, thus delaying the flight.
Not only this, but closing the overhead stowage on certain aircraft types (mainly widebody Boeing aircraft) can be quite difficult to close. Sometimes 2 crew are required to close each hat rack as the can be too heavy to lift up and close alone. Therefore closing hat racks can be quite tiring for the crew, so by opening them again you are making the crew do the same job twice (not cool).
Some passengers insist their bag needs to be above their head, and they are adamant that the overhead stowage above them belongs to them, which is not the case. Your bag can go in any hat rack, just make sure you remember where it is! It is always a good idea to have a lock on your bag and to keep any valuables with you, incase you have to put your bag in a place where you can’t see it during the flight.
6. Passengers taking ages to get off the aircraft
You’ve been stuck with us for however many hours in a metal tube dying to get off, but when it’s finally time to leave you’re spending ages putting your shoes on, checking you haven’t left anything in your seat pocket, checking the seats, going to the toilet. We’re so thrilled you want to spend even more time with us, but we just want to flop onto the bed, remove our fake smiles and rest our tired legs. Not only this but more importantly:
Passenger delays at disembarkation causes subsequent delays for other passengers.
It can cause a delay for the next scheduled flight on that aircraft as the cleaners can’t get on the plane until all passengers are off. There is often a short turnaround time between disembarkation, cleaning and then embarkation for the next flight, so if a passenger is delayed getting off the plane it can cause the following flight to be delayed.
Not only this, but if the airplane is parked away from the terminal at a remote stand then a bus will take the passengers to the terminal. This means you’ll be causing all the other passengers from your flight that are stood waiting on the bus to wait for you before it can go. And they certainly won’t appreciate all being stuck like sardines inside the bus waiting for you. 🙂
If you are a passenger of limited mobility, of course this is a different story and the crew will do all they can to assist you and would never want to make you feel rushed to get off the plane.
7. Passengers asking you to change their seats
We understand why you’re annoyed you haven’t been given a seat next to your travel partner. Or that you want an aisle seat because you’re a frequent traveller to the lavatory and haven’t been given one. Or that you’re going to try your luck to see if you can get a free upgrade (ps: you won’t). But these queries should be addressed and solved with the check-in staff before you get onboard.
If you’ve checked in online and don’t like the seat you’ve been given, or you’re a female and as your cultural beliefs you don’t want to be seated next to a man, or you have an injury and need a bit of extra room, see if the check-in staff can accommodate your request and change your seat whilst you’re doing the luggage drop. They have the airplane seat plan infront of them on the computer, they can see which seats are vacant/reserved/blocked off. As Cabin Crew we don’t always know this information – sometimes we are only told how many passengers we have!
It is much easier and quicker for the check-in staff to rearrange your seats than for Cabin Crew to do it onboard.
And by Cabin Crew spending their time asking passengers to swap seats, not only are they disrupting other passengers who have happily got themselves settled in their seats, but they are potentially delaying the departure of the aircraft if rearranging passenger seats.
Of course we understand some issues can’t be resolved on ground and that the ground staff will sometimes tell you to ask the cabin crew to sort out the seat problems. In which case, when you are in your cabin ask for the onboard leader for that area, explain the situation and they will do their best to help you and hopefully solve the problem. Try to address the issue as soon as you get onboard so the staff have time to sort it out. If you leave it until after take-off it can be difficult as other passengers may have fallen asleep/be unwilling to swap seats, and also the Cabin Crew are busy trying to prepare the meal service for the passengers.
8. Passengers bringing too many bags onboard
For me this is probably the most annoying thing passengers can do. So many times we departed late because passengers bring too many bags onboard and there is just not enough space for all of them in the Overhead Stowage. There are cabin luggage restrictions for a reason: there is only a limited amount of space in the cabin for everyone’s bags. And remember the crew’s bags and emergency equipment and some service equipment is also in some of the Overhead Stowage Containers, meaning there is less space.
I don’t know how some passengers can manage to sneak all these things past the ground staff but it sure winds me up. I once saw a man with a full on 70 litre backpack as hand luggage (!), and I saw one man in the cabin who was travelling alone and had a duffle bag, a laptop bag and 2 completely oversized suitcases that they couldn’t even fit in the Overhead Stowage Container!! On so many flights we would have to get cabin bags placed into cargo, or find space for the bags at the front of the plane – much to the annoyance of the passengers sat at the front in Business and First Class.
This takes time and delays the closing of the final cabin door, meaning you can miss your departure slot and be waiting half an hour or so on the tarmac for the next available slot.
Passengers would get annoyed they were delayed but were completely oblivious THEY had caused the delay by bringing their whole house onboard. I have relocated to different continents 3 times in my life, so I know what it is like to have a lot of things to bring with you, but I will still make sure I stick to the luggage requirements of the airline. Also if you bring cabin bags that are too heavy, this is dangerous as the Overhead Stowage have a weight limit and may open during the flight and cause injury if your bag falls.
9. Passengers that breathe or cough on you
It’s not nice to have anyone cough on you. But especially when you’re in an aircraft you’re even more susceptible to picking up people’s germs as you’re stuck in a metal tube with them for hours with recycled air.
If cabin crew get ill they often don’t get paid, so it’s always in their best interests to keep as healthy as possible.
If you are on a plane and you have a cough or a cold, keep tissues handy and avoid spreading your germs as much as possible.
Passengers that have smelly breath and breathe all over you is also pretty annoying. This happens especially during long flights, after the passengers have had a sleep and then you’re coming round with the final meal service. You’ll ask them what they want to eat and they’ll do a big sigh and you’ll feel their breath all over you. And if their breath smells (because they haven’t brushed their teeth for hours), it hits you like a tonne of bricks, trust me! If you’re prone to pongy breath, just remember to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste with you in your hand luggage.
10. Passengers pretending that their seatbelt is fastened
I just don’t understand why people do this, it’s so childish. And you can spot these people a mile off. They sit there like a guilty child looking sheepish as hell whilst we’re going round securing the cabin for take off or landing. At the end of the day if you don’t want to protect yourself if an accident happens, that’s your decision. But we have a duty of care for our passengers as we want everyone to have a safe flight.
We are telling you for your own good to fasten your seatbelt, and failing to comply with Flight Attendant instructions like this can even get you in trouble in some airlines.
Plus, why would you want to be embarrassed infront of everyone whilst the Flight Attendant hovers over you and waits for you to fasten your seatbelt? It’s just a bit degrading. You know the safety rules – they’re for your own good so just do them. 🙂
11. Passengers asking for things whilst you’re still boarding
I had this happen quite a few times actually. A passenger hasn’t even reached their seat yet and is asking you for a drink or a snack! They would be moaning that they hadn’t had a drink of water for hours like it was my fault! Despite there being ample shops at the airport where you can buy a bottle of water, they would rather wait a couple of hours for a free glass of water than to spend a couple of dollars on a bottle at the airport.
12. Passengers watching you eat
There is no staff room we can go to when we want to eat something. The only place we can eat is in the galley. Of course we don’t mind passengers coming to the galley and asking us for things. But we do find it really weird when passengers just stand there looking at us eating, almost like we are not entitled to eat whilst on duty. We don’t stand over you watching you eat, so we would appreciate just a little bit of privacy whilst we have 2 minutes to enjoy our food.
13. Passengers leaving the toilet a mess
As Flight Attendants we often have to take on the role of nurses, fire fighters, waitresses and many other jobs. We also have to take on the role as a cleaner as we don’t have cleaners onboard with us. And the state some lavatories are left in is absolutely hideous. Urine and faeces on the floor and you expect other passengers to go in there after you? We can’t constantly check each toilet after every single passenger, so we just ask that you have respect for others when you use the toilet. And if it is not in a nice state, just let one of the few know and they will happily (?) sort it out for you.
14. Passengers getting upset when a meal choice has run out
If food is included in the price of your ticket, usually there will be 2 or 3 meal choices for you to choose from. And if you’re one of the last passengers to get served, chances are they might run out of one of the meal options. It’s just unfortunate that you’ll get the last choice if you get served last. Usually the people at the back get served last but this is not always the case.
Some airlines only provide enough casseroles for each person so as not to waste food.
For example if an airplane has 300 passengers on, then only 300 meals will be loaded onto the aircraft. So of course if everyone wants the chicken option they aren’t all going to get it. Many airlines do load more meals onboard than the amount of passengers, to minimise passenger dissatisfaction if they don’t get their first choice. But still it may mean that your preferred choice of meal has run out by the time the Flight Attendant comes to serve you.
We understand you were really looking forward to the chicken casserole but it was probably made weeks ago anyway. Airplane food is known for not being the best in terms of tastiness and nutrition, so don’t get upset about it. Even if you did get your first choice it probably wouldn’t taste that great anyway. If you are particularly fussy about food or have allergies, I recommend to bring your own food onboard.
There are options for you to order special meals beforehand when you purchase your ticket. For example: gluten free meals, vegetarian meals, diabetic meals etc. So if you order this, then you should definitely get what you asked for. That being said, if everyone is going to start ordering special meals, it makes the food service go incredibly slow as you have to deliver the special meals by hand to each passenger, so only order a special meal if you really need one.
15. Passengers ignoring you when you greet them
Countless times I would say ‘Hello Sir welcome onboard!’ and the reply I would get would be ’16C’ or whichever number seat they were sitting in. Or I would say hi and just get completely ignored! If your Flight Attendant greets you, just be polite and greet them back – manners cost nothing! Plus a Flight Attendant will always go the extra mile for a passenger if they are nice!
16. Passengers taking ages to decide what meal choice they want
Honestly, sometimes it can seem like the seconds turn into hours when you’re waiting for a passenger to choose which meal they want! You just feel like telling them whichever choice they pick, it’s still not going to taste great!
17. Passengers leaving their seat area really messy
This one is just common courtesy and respect, but you’d be surprised at the state some people leave their seat area in once they get off the plane. I once had one family that were eating a big bag of pistachio nuts and threw all of the shells onto the floor each time they ate one of the nuts. I was in shock they weren’t even embarrassed at their behaviour. A few times I have had passengers leave faecal matter in their seat area. Like just seriously, what is that about. Just because you’ve paid for your seat, don’t treat it like a pig pen.
18. Passengers bringing smelly food onboard
As you’re essentially going to be confined into a small space for the next few hours, any smells will get magnified. This relates especially to body odours and food smells! Even though you really want to enjoy your McDonald’s burger on the plane instead of at the terminal, it’s going to smell onboard. Plus you’re going to make people jealous, so try not to eat any food on the plane that smells (good or bad!). I’ve had people bring curry onto the plane and eat it during boarding, and it was really hard to try to neutralise the smell as it was so powerful. Other passengers would start complaining. And it’s not like you can just open a window when you’re on an airplane to get rid of the smell!
If you’re familiar with the Asian fruit durian, you’ll know it absolutely stinks. The fruit is so smelly that it is actually banned from most public transport in Asia! We once had a passenger who brought durian onboard and started eating during take-off. Within seconds the WHOLE airplane STANK and several PA’s had to be made to get the passenger to put it away as the smell was so overpowering and unbearable. So just be mindful about any smelly food you have before you bring it onboard!
19. Passengers taking drinks off your meal cart whilst you’re serving other passengers
It wouldn’t happen often, but still nonetheless I witnessed passengers doing this several times. I would be in the middle of serving a passenger, then I would look on my drinks cart and notice something was missing. I’d then look at the passenger next to the cart and see them either reading the wine bottle to check which type of wine it is, or helping themselves to a glass. Sorry but I just find this incredibly rude! I’d always make a little joke and smile to the passenger, but inside I would be seething at the cheekiness of it!
20. Passengers stealing things onboard
You’re collecting the headphones at the end of the flight and it’s shocking the amount of people that will claim they never had any headphones all flight, yet you’ll see the headphones wire sticking out of their bag. Or the passengers that walk off with the airline blanket poking out of their bag. Seriously like a million people have used them, why would you want to take them as a souvenir? It’s just bizarre.
21. Passengers asking for a drink but then not even finishing it
Yeh, what’s this one about? Passengers demanding water and then not even finishing the plastic glass of water you give them! Clearly we can’t do anything with that bit of water left, so just drink it or save it for later yeh? And don’t get me started on the passengers who would demand a fresh glass each time. Such a waste of plastic!
22. Passengers that expect you to look after their children
Some passengers would see a Flight Attendant as a free nanny and someone who will take their children off their hands. This happens especially in some airlines where they have a Flying Nanny. This is not the case though. The Flying Nanny is a regular member of Cabin Crew who does the nanny duties ontop of their regular cabin crew duties. Some airlines even disallow Cabin Crew to be alone with the children, unsupervised by the parents.
Flight Attendants will always do their best to help you look after their children, but definitely don’t think you can palm your children off.
23. Passengers who can’t open the lavatory door
Opening the lavatory door still remains more challenging to some people than a rubix cube. It will forever keep us entertained watching people struggle to open the door. I promise you if you read the instructions on the door you’ll work out how to open it. It’s not as hard as you think.
Or it would always fascinate me what people would try to open, thinking it was the lavatory. I had one man who was trying to squeeze into a cupboard less than a metre high because he was adamant it was the toilet. Just look for the toilet sign, and ask us if you’re not sure!
24. Passengers who move your bag to fit their luggage into the hat rack
Rule number one: don’t touch the Air Hostess’ belongings. It’s never going to go down well with us – we get territorial and protective of our belongings. And rightly so – we were the first to put our bags up, and we need things from our bag throughout the flight so we need to know where our bag is! As I mentioned earlier, crew often put their cabin bags in the Overhead Stowage. And we aren’t moving our bags for anyone. So just find another place for your bag. 🙂
25. Passengers asking for a pen
You won’t believe how many passengers will ask you for a pen to fill out the Immigration form. You reluctantly give out your favourite and only pen and it disappears into a hole of oblivion, never to be seen again. The allowing flight you bring 2 pens, and the same happens. After a while you just start to say no because you know you won’t get your pen back. Or you have to treat the passenger like a child and specify that you really want you pen back after they’ve finished with it.
We don’t carry an infinite amount of pens onboard, and we certainly can’t be handing out dozens of pens each flight. So just bring a pen with you – I’m sure you’ll need it at another stage too.
26. Passengers who put their legs in the aisle
I challenge you to find a Flight Attendant who hasn’t either tripped up over someone’s legs in the middle of the aisle, or hasn’t hit someone’s knee with the food cart as they were going down the aisle. And it’s so annoying when a passenger yells at you for hitting them, when if they would have kept their legs inside then they wouldn’t have got hurt. Of course we never hit people on purpose, but we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads and sometimes don’t see everything.
We understand that you want to stretch out your legs but we also don’t want any injuries onboard.
Especially when the lights are down people can trip over people’s legs in the aisle and really hurt themselves.
27. Passengers that stare at you on the jumpseat
Sometimes Cabin Crew are sat in a jump seat that faces passengers in the cabin (usually in the middle of the plane). For taxi, take-off and landing the Cabin Crew needs to secure themselves in the jump seat and there will always be a passenger who just sits and stares at your the whole time. These moments in the jump seat are our moments to think to ourselves and prepare ourselves in the event of an emergency, and to reflect on safety and service procedures for the flight. So just allow us these few moments in peace without feeling like we are in a goldfish bowl.
28. Passengers that wear no socks or shoes onboard
This one is a no-no from us. Especially if you go to the bathroom barefoot – it makes us cringe. Do you know how many germs are on the floor in the aircraft?! Just put something on your feet for your own protection. Plus we don’t want to see your crusty yellow toenails whilst we are working around food.
29. Passengers staring at you waiting for you to serve them food
Some people are just so impatient. I would be serving passengers 3 rows ahead of them and they would be glaring at me trying to get my attention because they wanted food. Don’t worry – we aren’t going to miss you out! Just be patient, we only have 2 hands and are going as fast as we can.
30. Passengers who ask you for something just as you’re going on your rest
Why does this always happen? You’re on a long-haul flight getting ready to go on your rest. You’re bouncing down the aisle knowing you won’t have to see anyone else or hear another call bell for a couple of hours. You have your blanket, your makeup and your sleepwear in your hand and then someone asks you something and the spring in your step disappears. Of course the passenger doesn’t do it on purpose, but it’s just typical how this always happens at this moment!
31. Passengers trying to look inside the Crew Rest when you open the door
Passengers love to hover around the Crew Rest Compartment door. You try and hide the code from them when you punch it in and you try to open and close the door as quickly as possible when you go up as the passengers are nosey and desperate to see what it looks like inside. Then when you come back from your rest, there they are again, waiting at the door when you open it, still trying to get a look!
Yes we are humans, yes we legally need a rest on long flights. So stop looking at us like we’ve just bunked off from school! And give us a moment to wake up, orientate ourselves and sort ourselves out before you start asking for drinks again pleaseeeee.
32. Passengers that aren’t prepared for the flight
I found it quite worrying that many parents wouldn’t bring enough milk for their babies on a long flight. Or more like – they knew we had free milk onboard so would rather give their baby free milk suitable for adults as opposed to using their own baby milk. When a few families start to do this, well then the milk runs out very quickly. My advise is to not assume things will be available onboard incase it has run out! Especially when you are travelling with children, make sure you have everything you need in your cabin bag to last the duration of the flight.
33. Passengers leaving belongings onboard
Almost always every flight a passenger will leave something onboard. Whether it’s a jacket, glasses, bag, passport, duty free shopping or a child – YES THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME! Start packing up your belongings towards the end of the flight and then do a final check as you get up after the seatbelt sign has been switched off. When passengers leave things onboard, if they don’t notice straight away within a couple of minutes whilst they are still near the gate, it can be almost impossible to get their belongings back if they aren’t labelled. I would find this so annoying for the passenger! If they had only taken an extra couple of seconds to check their seat area then they wouldn’t have left it behind.
34. When the annoying passengers ask you out
Thanks but no thanks. We are busy checking out the hot passenger who doesn’t even know we exist. Oh the dramas of cabin crew life.
35. Passengers thinking you are stupid
We didn’t do intensive training for 6+ weeks just to learn how to serve you drinks. There’s so much more to this job that we have to learn. How to survive on a raft in the middle of the ocean for days, how to survive in polar conditions, how to operate certain controls in the cockpit. Most Flight Attendants these days actually have Degrees. We aren’t just dumb waitresses, and we certainly know our job better than you think. Yes we might forget to get you that cup of tea you asked for, but it’s not intentional – it’s probably because we had about 5 other things in our head we also had to do at the same time. Plus the lack of oxygen in the cabin air doesn’t help. If we forget something, just ask us nicely again and we’ll be sure to get it sorted for you!
And there we are: those are the most annoying things passengers do on an airplane according to Flight Attendants. I hope you don’t think we’re a grumpy and inpatient bunch, because really we are anything but that!
Airline Crew often use the saying ‘Safety First, Service Second’. We are primarily there for your safety and to get you from A to B. The bulk of our training is safety related and how to respond in emergency situations. Situations such as evacuations, medical emergencies, fires, loss of cabin pressure, terrorist activity. We certainly don’t stand around practicing how to pour a coke during our training.
I won’t deny – there are some cabin crew who get annoyed at anything and probably should think about changing jobs. I’ve met several and they can really ruin your flight as they are unnecessarily rude. But next time you see your Air Hostess getting annoyed, don’t take it personally. All they want is a safe flight.
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