This week in our Ask a Pilot series, pilot Rene tells us what airline crews wish passengers would and would NOT do. Are you guilty of committing any of their pet peeves?
that the crew is typically NOT the reason the plane is late, the air is bumpy, your bag won’t fit or you didn’t get the meal you selected online. Please don’t take this out on them. It’s not something that they have any control over.
2. BE POLITE…
to the people around you! For better or worse, you will be with them for a while, and it will be much more pleasant is everyone is polite.
3. SIT IN YOUR OWN DARNED SEAT
You can’t sit wherever you want on many airlines. If you were issued a ticket for a specific seat, sit there. If you are unable to sit in that seat (e.g. it’s an exit row and you can’t/don’t want to perform the corresponding duties), get the attention of the Flight Attendant and he/she will move you. If you simply want to move to another row because no one is sitting there, talk to the Flight Attendants AFTER boarding is complete. And sorry, self-upgrading is not an option.
If you have to put your suitcase in an overhead bin that is farther back than your seat, you are almost certainly going to have to wait in order to pull it down and get off the plane. Accept this painful reality. You are going to have to let everyone from the rows between you and your suitcase get off. Do not try to push past people to get farther back in the plane. The wait will only be a couple of minutes. It’s not worth it to trample the other passengers and then invariably hit them in the head when you pull down your suitcase.
If your suitcase is behind you, wait!
1. ARGUE …
with the Flight Attendant during boarding. The main goal is to take off on time and safely. The airline has a tight timeline, and the Flight Attendants are crucial to ensuring the flight will be able to get out on time. We understand boarding can be challenging sometimes. Believe it or not, we often travel ourselves and have to go through the exact same process. When it goes smooth, it’s fine. If not, well, we have definitely ‘been there done that!’ Some days it’s just not going to work well, and the Flight Attendants and Gate Agents are certainly trying their best. You will always get more with bees with honey than vinegar. After things settle down, if there is some way to make your experience better, within obvious limits, they will usually try.
2. LIE ABOUT YOUR CONNECTION
Even when a flight arrives EARLY to the gate, some passengers will claim they are going to miss their connection (this happens every day!). What would they have done if the flight had landed at the regularly scheduled time? The thing to know here is that the airline has a limit on how tight a connection you can book through the airline (for most airlines the layover must be at least 45 minutes). When we are at the gate early and you’re pushing to the front telling them you have 15 minutes to get to your flight, the crew knows that can’t be true. Now, if you booked your flight through a discount online service that gave you a 20-minute connection, for example, all bets are off! That’s on you.
Also, Flight Attendants cannot call and ask anyone to hold your connecting flight. That is a decision made by the airline, and your pilot and flight attendants have no pull. The company may hold a flight so a group of 25 peoples can make their connection, but they are not going to delay an entire flight so that one passenger with a basic economy ticket can make a connection.
3. BLOCK THE AISLE…
during boarding. That slows down the entire process and really irks the Flight Attendants. And ultimately, if we are late leaving the gate because boarding isn’t done, that counts against the gate agent, who is held responsible for on-time boarding. Your flight crew isn’t officially responsible for the plane until the doors close. So, until that point, you can think of it as the Flight Attendants volunteering their time, as they are not getting paid yet.
4. ASK TO BEND THE RULES
If you are traveling on a smaller airplane and are asked to gate check or valet check your bag (where it will be waiting for you at the gate when the plane lands), do not try to convince the crew to bend the rules. This is less of an ‘it will fit’ issue and much more of an ‘FAA/Company policy’ rule. If they bend the rules and get caught, they will have to deal with disciplinary actions.
5. THINK YOU CAN SWEET TALK YOUR WAY TO PREMIUM SEATS
Flight Attendants are not allowed to move a basic economy fare passenger to a premium seat. On their app, they can see what category ticket every person on the plane holds, the cost of their ticket, etc. If they upgrade an ineligible passenger, they can get in trouble for it.
6. GET YOURSELF KICKED OFF
If you decide to give the Flight Attendants a hard time, they will turn to the Captain for assistance. He or she is very busy and will not appreciate that a passenger might make the flight late. If the Captain gets involved, the chances of you staying on the plane are close to zero.
7. BRING THE CREW BAKED GOODS
As kind as that is, the crew cannot eat food gifts. They will graciously accept your grandmother’s fruitcake, but will have to throw it away once you are out of sight. If you want to show your appreciation, a heartfelt “thank you” is always well received.
8. PROPOSITION THE FLIGHT ATTENDANTS
Yes, this still happens (to both male and female flight attendants). Get with the program people! Stop being creepy! Leave them alone and do NOT try to friend them on Facebook.
What other bad behavior have you seen on flights? What other things can we all do to make the flying experience more pleasant for everyone?