3 No-fail tips to unlock flight attendant love

Do you crave being treated like minor royalty by a flight attendant, even if seated in the most modest rows toward the tail of the plane. If the service is less than regal, could you be part of the problem?

Well, yes.  A recent chance encounter with an off-the-clock Delta flight attendant, whom I’ll call Sheila, a 30-year veteran, provided some insights from her time working in all service classes. 

Here are simple, no-fail tips to unlock the flight attendant love and help make that time at 30,000 feet above the earth as pleasant as it can be.


photo of plane at jetway
As you enter the plane, great the flight attendant with a smile!

We’re all in this together for the next several hours (or overnight) so let’s be friends.

Flight attendants are trained to provide a warm greeting and if grunted at in return, take it with grace. It’s a feat of perseverance doused with humility. Part of the job.

Fumbling with bags, coats, wayward toddlers and ornery carry-on wheels can obscure our natural grace, not to mention manners.  On the other hand, breezing past the person standing at the door of his/her professional ‘home’ with nary a glance is needlessly rude.

And you know what? They notice. You may be one of the dozens, or even hundreds, filing past, but flight attendants have a knack for remembering faces. Your sincerity will register, with dividends. Plus, there’s the advantage of doing the right thing.

Otherwise, to paraphrase Bette Davis, buckle up because it could be a bumpy ride. Cheeriness begets cheeriness.


people sitting in plane with flight attendant at work
It’s a full flight and hard work!

What is so hard about that?  Civility does not end at the aircraft’s portal.

A simple thank you means a lot because, as Sheila explained (and by now she was really warming to the topic), it’s said relatively rarely by the flying public. Thank you for the drink, thank you for taking my coat. Thank you for bringing the extra water, amusing my toddler, the blanket.  It’s that simple.  Everyone wants to be appreciated.

Flight attendants are there to ensure our safety on routine flights and in emergencies as well as to ‘serve’ the customer. Superior customer service is an important distinction in a highly competitive marketplace. That said, the emphasis on being a good host as well as the guardian of our safety should in no way be taken for granted.

Saying thank you is simply common courtesy and you’ll likely see that graciousness returned full-fold.


carry on bag in overhead luggage compartment of plane
Isn’t that your bag?

Flight attendants are not baggage handlers. 

They are not required to lug your carry-on luggage into the upper compartments. In fact, it is forbidden by company policy, not to mention union rules (I hadn’t realized that Delta is a non-union shop for flight attendants).

They will happily assist you – finding an open spot or rearranging to make more space –  but it’s not their job to toss it up there. 

Quite bluntly,  you made the decision to carry on so it’s your problem. I say this as a 60+ female solo traveler and an avid carry-on user.   I have asked for help but most often someone has offered pro-active assistance,  absolving me of any awkwardness. Lots of kind folks out there.

If you have any reservation about your ability to swing the bag above your head or are shy about enlisting help from fellow passengers, check you bag. Flight attendants are not indentured servants.

Occasionally, you’ll  get some bad apples.  You’ll run into cabin employees who are indifferent and/or unhelpful (and even rude). It happens.

However, in those instances, you have the upper hand.

Airlines rely on customer feedback to improve the in-flight experience; they want to hear about incidents they can address. Your loyalty is important. They also want to avoid a public relations disaster. Especially kind that can result in 16 million views of a YouTube video castigating United for breaking a guitar. Social media, as we know, is a powerful thing.

But just because you have the ultimate hammer, it doesn’t mean that every flight attendant is the nail. Let your higher angels guide your behavior.   And make sure you’re on the right side of the argument. For starters, smile and say thank you. It will unlock flight attendant love. 

Do you have a nightmare inflight story? Do you have a heartwarming anecdote to share? Please do, in the comments below! 



© 3 Score & More 2017

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