6 Things You Should Never Do on a Plane, According to a Former Flight Attendant

Flight attendant, jet plane.

Plus, a few ways to make your cabin crew’s lives easier on your next trip. 

BY OLIVIA MORELLI – You may find this article HERE in its entirety on Conde Nast Traveler’s website

It’s no secret that being a flight attendant is no easy task. From long hours and days away from home to potential delays and unruly passengers, it takes a special type of person to survive and thrive on the job. Cabin crew training is intense and can take months to complete, and covers everything from food hygiene and incident reporting to fire fighting, terrorism awareness, and even how to deliver a baby. But many cabin crew claim that the trickiest and most challenging part of their days involves customer service: dealing with passenger requests, worries, nerves, and, at times, disorderly behavior. So we spoke to an ex-flight attendant to find out what you should never do on a plane.

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“We used to refer to the cabin as the jungle”, says Charlotte*, an ex-cabin crew member who has worked on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircrafts. “There were so many people with different perspectives, demands and expectations, all crammed into a flying tin. There are so many variables and things that could happen that are totally out of your control, so every day we wondered whether we’d have a passenger do something that most people on the ground would think is absurd.”

Below, Charlotte tells us some stories about her time as cabin crew, revealing what flight attendants hope you’d never do on a plane. Some may seem obvious, but all are experienced incidents that have happened at one time or another, so take note and try your best to make their job that little bit easier.

*names have been changed

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No smoking means no smoking

Without stating the obvious, smoking on planes is dangerous—not only is there a risk of fire, but it’s harmful to fellow passengers and has the potential to clog the aircraft’s pressurisation valves. “You’d think people would consider the risks by now, but the amount of times I caught passengers trying to smoke is outrageous. Once, a passenger covered his head with a blanket and started smoking underneath. We told him we could see and smell what he was doing, and he continued, so he was arrested once we landed. Not the best way to start your holiday,” Charlotte tells us. “Another time, a passenger had placed a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on his tray table, and we reminded him he wasn’t allowed to smoke, and he claimed that he was ‘just looking at them.’ He then proceeded to get really drunk and tried to light one, so we intervened and banned him from ordering any more alcohol, to which he responded by insulting our appearances—he told me ‘You just look really sweaty’. He could have done better than that to be honest, but it was a weird experience.”

Don’t fight with other passengers

Stressed travelers, nervous fliers and panicked passengers are no strangers on flights. People get very anxious before traveling, and everyone’s emotions are heightened. “It sounds obvious, but at times passengers have resorted to aggression instead of rationally handling the situation,” says an ex-flight attendant. “Once, a passenger accused someone else of stealing their bag, and I had to physically stand between two grown men to prevent a physical altercation. I was 21 and 5 foot 5, so the situation felt very surreal—we are taught restraint techniques in training, but potentially having to do it in reality felt quite scary.”

Reports of in-flight aggression and bad behavior on planes have increased since the pandemic. Staff shortages, politicized Covid regulations, and post-pandemic travel surges have all contributed, but it’s still no excuse for unruly incidents. “This is happening every day now,” Sara Nelson, a flight attendant and the president of the national flight attendants’ union told The Guardian.

Don’t get annoyed if someone reclines their seat

This is a debate that travelers have argued over since the function became commonplace. On the one hand, if a passenger has paid for their seat, and that seat has the option to recline, then it’s part of the paid-for service. On the other hand, the passenger behind has also paid for a particular seat and…

Read on…article continues HERE on Conde Nast Traveler’s website

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