Wednesday, July 08, 2009

7 Ways to Annoy a Flight Attendant

I'm in panic packing mode for the RWA conference in Washington, D.C., next week, and my brain is just having trouble coming up with a blog topic. Actually, my poor brain has had trouble with blog topics for a while now. I'm not a Golden Heart finalist like Angel so I don't have that excitement to share. I'm not a published author like Problem Child and Instigator, so I don't have that wider arena of the publishing world to draw from. And I'm not witty with interesting skills like Smarty Pants so I can't write about cake decorating or planning fabu parties.

So I'm going to share a piece I saw online about a month ago so that those of you flying to the RWA conference (or anywhere else) can stay in the good graces of your cabin crew.

A veteran flight attendant who works for a well-known airline listed these as her biggest pet peeves with air travelers:

1. Bring your pet on the plane and then act like an animal.
Over the years, I've seen a pet on a passenger's lap, a pet tucked into a seatback pocket, and a pet loose in the aisle (I nearly hit one with my beverage cart). All of this is against federal regulations. People tell me how well-behaved their pet is, but they can't follow the rules themselves! Your pet must stay in its carrier while you're on the plane. Yes, even if you've paid a "pet-in-cabin" fee.

2. Shove your bag into the first bin you see and then walk to your seat in the back of the plane.
You think you're clever, I know. You expect to grab your bag on your way out of the plane, but you're selfishly inconveniencing others. I can't lie and say we flight attendants don't take some small satisfaction when we tell you, "We couldn't identify the bag's owner, so we sent it to cargo." It's a security issue, for real. Carry-ons need to stay near their owners! So don't look so shocked when we say, "The signs will direct you to baggage claim. You can pick up your bag there."

3. Think that because you're on an airplane you're off-duty as a parent.
Stop expecting us to have spare diapers, formula, medicine, toys, playing cards, or batteries for DVD players or Game Boys. It's an airplane, not a 7-11. Take your kid to the restroom before you board. Leave the dry cereal and Legos at home and bring snacks and toys for your kids that won't make a horrible mess.

4. Drag on an oversize bag that's too heavy for you to lift by yourself.
I won't be compensated for any injuries I might sustain if I heft your bag into the overhead compartment for you. (And other passengers shouldn't have to step up and take the risk either.) The guideline is simple: You pack it, you stack it. Try this at home as a test (and this is to you ladies, especially): After you've packed your bag, put on the shoes you plan to wear on the plane and see if you can lift your bag and place it on top of your refrigerator. You can't? Pay the fee and check the bag.

5. Gripe that you haven't been seated in a roomy exit-row seat.
The exit rows weren't created as a reward for people who are tall, overweight, or just plain nice. They were designed to help passengers get out of the plane in an emergency. The people seated in an exit row must be able to see and speak clearly, open the emergency door, and help others. I prefer to see uniformed military, firefighters, law-enforcement officers, or off-duty pilots and flight attendants sitting in those seats. While the gate agent may assign exit-row seats first, the flight attendant makes the final determination about who gets to sit in them. And the quality of our choices is one of the frequent concerns of Federal Aviation Administration officials when they audit airlines for safety practices. So please don't complain. I'm just doing my job.

6. Act like you don't know the meaning of the words "under the seat in front of you."
Someday I will be muttering "under the seat in front of you" in the old-age home for flight attendants. What is it that you don't understand? To be clear, items should not be stowed behind your calves, under your feet like a footstool, in the open seat next to you, or in your lap. It's under the seat in front of you. And it applies to everything you carry on board. Items stored carelessly can trip others, or dislodge during takeoff and get lost, or inconvenience others. And while I'm on the topic: Please don't wrap your purse (or umbrella strap) around your ankle to keep from forgetting it. What will happen in an emergency, when every second counts and there's no time to disentangle yourself from your precious bag? Will you drag it ball-and-chain-style down the aisle of a burning plane?

7. Whine about the high price of flying.
When I hear people complain about coach airfares, I know they're not keeping up with the news. Fares have rarely been cheaper. In recent years, it's not uncommon for you to be able to cross the continent for under $130 each way, with a maximum of one layover. It's a bargain! At that price, you're barely paying for the fuel to get your body there—never mind the cost of shipping your 50 pounds of gear. You're already on the gravy plane. People point to first class ticket holders and want to know why they don't get the same treatment. Wake up folks: You're getting a great deal. If you want even more, pay more!

I won't mention that my favorite airline, Southwest, still does not charge for baggage, allows you two free bags and has the best on-time record in the business. Plus I just love Southwest's cabin crews. You can experience a little Southwest fun with the YouTube video below.

To all conference-goers, have a safe trip and we'll see you there.

Do you have any pet peeves regarding travel? Tell me. Get it off your chest.

P.S. Note that this blog posted at 12:34 on 7/8/09. This is the first time/date numerical alignment today. The next will be at 4:05:06 this afternoon. And to get more specific, the first alignment is actually 12:34:56, but Blogger doesn't show the seconds. Neat, huh?


Christine said...

I am not flying--thank goodness. I've had about everything go wrong except the one major thing--so I guess I won't complain--I'm alive.

Southwest sent my friend's luggage to Baltimore and we had to drive to B'ham the next day to retrieve it. They had a line seven deep of people in the same predicament--a graveyard of bags already existed in their tiny office. Delta's wasn't any better.

I think my biggest problem with flying is the security issues. Every airport has a different set of rules. I once flew all the way to Seattle with carry ons and no problem. On the way back, the Seattle airport security staff were super vigilant. Another time they ran my darling daughter's backpack thru' the x-ray 3 times, and then inspected it by hand twice. I think it was an old water bottle.... I know it is for our own safety, but it drives me batty. And taking off my shoes... hate that.... I try to avoid flying distances that are within a day or two of driving now.

Rant over.

Angel said...

Great, I'd just about put the fact that I was flying out of my mind. Thanks for the reminder. :(

I'm not a good flyer. I'm terribly afraid of it. I've gotten better with practice, and meds are a big help, but I try not to take them for short flights like this. I simply pray nothing goes wrong so I don't embarrass myself by having a total breakdown in front of everyone. Don't laugh... it's happened before.


Problem Child said...

People who put their bags in the locker over my seat when they're fifteen rows back really hack me off. I'd pay the flight attendant to send it to cargo...

I think there's a good chance AC will end up working for an airline when she's older as some kind of safety expert. When she boards, she locates her nearest exit (realizing it might be behind her), reads the safety card, and listens closely to the safety briefing. She knows to put on her own oxygen mask before assisting others. If there's an airport/airplane safety rule, AC knows it, lives it and doesn't mind sharing it with others.

You've not lived until a six-year-old has lectured you on in-flight and airport safety. :-) Just ask the Playfriends who had to travel with AC to Scotland two years ago.

Smarty Pants said...

I wish there was another way to travel, but flying is the fastest way to do it. This year I think I'm only scheduled for 3 trips by plane, although a 4th may pop up at any time. I just got back and its time for another flight.

I hate baggage creepers. There's enough room in each overhead bin for the seats beneath it. There is absolutely no reason why you're stuff should end up over my head.

I almost never check my bag except for Nationals when its too big, but I've started to lately (even with the fees).

For one, I'm tired of running my bag through security. 3 oz mini bottles of everything are a pain, especially when you have specific hair needs that you can't find in a travel size. They always find something questionable and want to rummage through my carefully packed bag. I once told a security guy that if he tore it apart, he had to put it back together cause it had taken me forever to get it all in there.

Two, when you sit near the front of the plane, you board last and those creepers from the back have already overtaken my storage space. (I almost wish it was like kindergarten where each seat got assigned its own cubbie.)

And last, they almost always change my gate six times and I hate dragging my bag everywhere. I wish it wasn't $15+ to do it, but it can be nice to just forget about it.

Unless they lose your bag and that's a whole other story.

Christine said...

i suggest we go to the baggage place in scottsdale for a pilgrimage after this is over--not flying, but definitely panicking. Trip is almost here for me--we leave on Sat and I haven't had a chance to breath cause I've had company for a week.

My darling daughter is also a pro, never afraid, always calm, and once, during an incredibly horrible landing phase during which three people audibly prayed whilst I held my cross and said our father in heaven under my breath, my daughter (4 at the time) broke the tension by throwing her hands up in the air and shouting "whee!"

She likes roller coasters, too.

I wanted to kiss the tarmac when we landed.

Instigator said...

I don't even want to think about it. I am so not ready for this trip. I have a list of things a mile long and I have no idea when I'm going to get them done.

I hate baggage creepers!


catslady said...

Just have to say how much I enjoyed the video - still laughing!!

Christine said...

Watched video--so funny. Not ready for trip either--my list is way too long--am worried about the trip back--extra teen and extra luggage... aack... but we will have fun! I am tres tres tres excited to go to my FIRST CONFERENCE.... woot!