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The Strap


Flight Attendants' Pet Peeves

Sharon Wingler is a a flight attendant, a writer, and a member of the Journeywoman Network. She has many flight attendant friends each flying with different airlines. We asked Sharon to canvas her pals and come up with a list of pet peeves -- passenger behaviours that these women find difficult to deal with. Here is the end result: their do's and don'ts of air travel safety and etiquette...

We are your flight attendants. Observe our composure. See us smiling pleasantly. What poise we present!  Oops. What's that? A briefly furrowed brow? A momentary look of impatience? Eyes raised toward heaven? What's caused this temporary lapse in our serenity? Odds are some passenger unknowingly committed one of the following sins. Now, these nit-picky annoyances may seem trivial to you. But when repeated like Chinese water torture every day of our careers they make us want to weep into our aprons.

It is not social outcasts who commit these petits faux pas but nice, normal folk who do not realize their behavior drives us crazy. So, if you see yourself below, please reform!

  • Parents who ask their two-year-old what he or she wants to drink--while we wait and wait and wait.
  • People who put their luggage on top of the pillows and blankets and then ask us for pillows and blankets.
  • People who ask us for a pillow, watch us open every bin to find one and then, when we bring it, ask us for a blanket.
  • People who watch their neighbour ask us for something and then, when we bring it, ask us for the same thing.
  • People who see us serving meals but make us hold their tray and wait while they finally clear their papers or computer off their tray tables.
  • People who order a special meal and then decide they prefer the regular one.
  • People who paint their nails on the plane--the smell is overpowering!
  • People who take off their shoes then put their bare feet up on the wall or seats.
  • People who cough or sneeze without covering their nose and mouth.
  • People who get up during flight turbulence.
  • People whose elbows, legs, feet and purse straps in the aisle bruise and trip us.
  • People who won't promptly turn off their electronic gadgets and computers for landing.
  • People who expect us to lift their luggage overhead for them. If you can't lift it...
  • People who let their child ring the call-bell, draw, or place stickers right on the tray table.
  • Those who forget the words Please and Thank you.
  • People who shake their ice at us when they want a drink refill.
  • "Touchers" who poke, tap, grab, or tug on our aprons to get our attention while we are busy serving someone else.
  • Soft-talkers: People who speak too softly or just mouth the words.
  • People who hang out in our galley. It's the only refuge we have in which
    to restore ourselves for our next daring venture into the aisles.
  • People who look at us and say, "Smile!"

Pet Peeves

Sharon's Note: I'd like to thank Journeywoman for giving me this opportunity to raise awareness and hold a mirror to those who fly. I also thank my fellow flight attendants who contributed to this list.

Ed. note: Calling all flight attendants! Have a pet peeve of  your own?  Click here to let us know what frustrates you. We'll  include them in an upcoming issue of Journeywoman.

Women's words on etiquette...

Much of good manners is about knowing when to pretend that what's happening isn't happening.
--Mrs. Falk Feeley, A Swarm of Wasps 

Etiquette is what you are doing and saying when people are looking and listening. What you are thinking is your business.
--Virginia Cary Hudson, O Ye Jigs and Juleps 

You can't be truly rude until you understand good manners.
--Rita Mae Brown, Starting from Scratch 

Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.
--Elsie de Wolfe, in Mrs. Falk Feeley, A Swarm of Wasps 


For more flight attendant secrets, click here




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