Flight Attendants Disclose The Dirtiest Secrets About The Airline Industry
Phạm Duy Quang on Unsplash

Flight attendants have seen it all and dealt with all kinds of scenarios unique to their jobs.


So, the next time they ask you to return your seat to its upright position the flight crew prepares for landing, just hit that button instead of giving them flak for asking.

There's a lot we don't know about what goes on behind the scenes, and the last thing everyone onboard needs is unnecessary turbulence.

Curious to pull back the curtain to reveal a glimpse of the goings-on in the airline industry, Redditor bobbylink21 asked:
"Flight Attendants, what’s the dirty little secrets of your industry?"

Flight attendants are people too.

Relatable Inconvenience

"Flight attendants get equally if not more annoyed when flights are delayed. A lot are paid only for the 'flight time' - meaning they aren't paid to sit at the airport to wait....or even to greet customers during onboarding...."

"For that reason alone, the longer the flight the better. Imagine working on a short route where your actual work is 3-4h but you're paid for 55 minutes as that was the duration of the flight."

– psotnica

We Interrupt This Program Because You're A D*ck

"I used to be a flight attendant and when someone was really rude I’d just go to the computer we had to reset the inflight tv screens and I’d keep resetting theirs sporadically so that they couldn’t watch their movie. Very petty of me I know."

– Fluffy-Departure

Kindness Matters

"Not a secret - but if you’re nice you can get quite a bunch of stuff for free."

"Example - I was on a flight home (American Airlines) and there was a baby behind us that was just nooooottt having it. Pretty much cried all the way from Phoenix to Chicago. I felt awful."

"I was in the aisle, and saw that both the parents were taking turns walking around with the baby. So I asked them if they wanted something drink or a snack…I figured even the human interaction would be nice."

"I ordered them something and just went back to my movie. A few minutes later - I got a tap on the shoulder and got a little 'goodie bag' with some treats, and drinks and a little voucher for 24 hour** access to the AA lounge."

"Be nice people - it pays off!"

– Onederbat67

Letting Loose

"My roommate’s a flight attendant and she says the flight crew (including pilots) often stays at the same hotel and parties together, and that the pilots often sleep with flight attendants regardless of marital status. Idk if that counts as a secret of the industry, but she says it is."

– asitype1

It's Not Always Rosy

"I used to work as a flight attendant and I've seen a lot of stupid and crazy shit. The alcoholism, drug abuse and depression is common in the domain. It's hard for a lot of people to live a superficial life. It's fun at first to see new places and new destinations. But at some point rome or new delhi is just another place at work. Sound downing but I've seen a lot people complain about this and me as well."

– ChemicalSet2716

Here are examples of unofficial procedures in place.

Securing The Loot

"A friend of mine who works for Emirates told me this little gem. Whenever they fly into Saudi Arabia, Emirates makes the flight attendants lock the entire galley including all the food, water and drinks, all the napkins and cutlery too. This is beacuse in the past, Saudi Arabian authorities would come on board and literally take anything they want and walk out. And there was nothing the airline or staff could do."

– REAIMY

The Favored Nation

"Back pre-911 I was traveling globally for the military (not American. Canadian and Brit)."

"Whenever I stopped in at a major Canadian airport I would grab a mess of Air Canada luggage tags."

"Alot of my American contemporaries would ask for them when flying commercial to put on their luggage, especially when flying through the Middle East and Africa."

"The American luggage was targeted for abuser, theft, etc"

"They never touched Canadian bags."

– MyNameIsAjax

Ground Crew Benefit

"I worked for the ground crew at a private airport. Flights from other countries have to throw away all uneaten food right off the plane, as it is International Waste, and needs to be incinerated."

"Additionally, if flights for private planes are delayed, their food that was standing by has to go somewhere... So they gave it to us. So tasty."

– Onlyhereforthelaughs

And when things go wrong, it's discreetly swept under the rug.

The Cover-Up

"I once overheard a phone call at the gate check-in. A flight attendant was hungover, slept-in and was going to be pretty late."

"A minute later, the person at the kiosk made an announcement about how some pre-flight maintenance was going to delay the flight."

"I was thinking like, 'you lying sonofab*tch'. Lol"

– TheDjTanner

We Love Connie

"Ah, yes, maintenance. 'Crew delays' is a very dirty word that can result in a sh*t show with perks. I had crew delays once. Each time I needed something, I'd go to the desk and be like 'my flight was delayed, I need a new flight/food/ hotel/upgrade'. The staff was usually pretty over it until the words 'crew delays' were spoken and I'd drop the fat stack of misery (all my changed/canceled tickets and receipts) then all would be resolved."

"There was one lady at the united desk in Charlotte that was A-friggin'-mazing. I believe her name was Connie. You're my girl, I'm so grateful for your help and attitude, and still think about you 8 years later. You were the bright spot in a steaming mountain of sh*t that should have been the best vacation ever."

"United doesn't just break guitars..."

– pilotpanda

The Novelty Wears Off

"I used to work as a flight attendant and I've seen a lot of stupid and crazy sh*t. The alcoholism, drug abuse and depression is common in the domain. It's hard for a lot of people to live a superficial life. It's fun at first to see new places and new destinations. But at some point rome or new delhi is just another place at work. Sound downing but I've seen a lot people complain about this and me as well."

– ChemicalSet2716

They Know What You're Doing In There

"The toilets are near where we sit, and no matter how hard you try to cover the fact that you’re taking a dump. It makes a different noise than if you just go number 1."

"No matter what stupid thing you see or read about getting a 'free upgrade' 99% of the time it’s all bollocks."

– FlyFeetFiddlesticks

Morgue In The Sky

"Used to work for a UK airline (non crew)."

"It was normal for passengers that died onboard to be kept in their seats until landing. They would be wrapped in blankets and propped up to look like they were sleeping to not freak out other passengers."

– gjs78

Mind Thy Tray

"Not a flight attendant, but used to be a supervisor for a major US carrier. We had an employee whose child had a science project about germs. She brought her kid in on an overnighted aircraft and they took samples from all over. The galley, lavoratories, seats, tray tables, just about everywhere. The area with the most amount of fecal matter was the tray tables. Yep. I also never drink anything that is never sealed because I have witnessed cleaners who clean the lavoratories then jump to the galley without changing gloves."

– cardsfan4life17

Monitoring A Certain Demographic

"I buddy of mine has been a pilot for the better part of 30 years and says that back 15-20 years ago the Russian/Soviet pilots and crew had to been watched like hawks (sometimes even being locked in a room) because there was a high chance of them getting absolutely shit faced before when they were supposed to fly."

– richard-777

What's The Most Unsanitary Part Inside A Plane?

"The Galley!"

"Not a Flight Attendant but exEngineer and trust me, if the aircraft galley were inspected like any other food business it would be condemned within the first trolley!"

"That’s excluding the dirty water tanks and cleaning crew using one rag from ceiling lights to floor trim."

"If you ask anyone who maintains aircraft, you bet they’re buy their meal at the airport."

– WoodEngineering

While the last example fit the description of a dirty secret in the industry, the thread served as a general reminder to be nice to flight attendants.

They don't enforce rules not because they're on a power trip, and any traveler who thinks otherwise should be reminded that certain protocols are designed with safety in mind.

Otherwise, you might find your onboard entertainment suddenly being disconnected for no apparent reason.

Cheers!

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