How to make your flight attendant like you
Maybe you don't want to please your cabin crew next time you fly. I know, I know, it's their job to be nice, you're the customer, they're the employee. But if you're good to them, they'll be extra nice to you. So here's how to charm them.
1. Don't just ignore them. If a flight attendant greets you upon boarding at the Jetway, say "Hi" back. A simple "good morning" or "good evening" does it. How would you like to greet 20 people in a row and be greeted by silence? Well, that's what usually happens.
2. Listen to the safety demo. It's just polite. Put down your iPad and Kindle. When was the last time you really listened? If it was more than a few years ago, it's time for a refresher. At the very least don't talk loudly to your neighbour when a flight attendant is standing in front of you trying to keep you safe.
3. Headphones off! Take your headphones off when they ask you what you'd like to drink so they don't have to repeat it three times. How would you like it if they were wearing headphones when talking to you? It's the Golden Rule.
4. Be specific when ordering. When you ask for coffee or tea, specify milk or no milk, sweetener or not, without being asked as in "I'd like coffee with milk please" or "I'd like coffee, black." Not only does it make their job easier, but everyone on the plane will get served more quickly.
5. Same for cold drinks. "I'd like Diet Coke, no ice please" or "Water, with ice and a slice of lemon please."
6. Say "please" and "thank you." As in the examples above, say "please" and "thank you" when asking for and receiving something. Again, common courtesy that will get you treated extra well. A flight attendant once told me "We thought you were company" (meaning that I worked for the airline) because I was so polite.
7. Magazines! Donate copies of your current magazines to the crew. After you finish reading this week's US Weekly or GQ, give it to your flight attendant. Flight attendants love to read magazines when they're off duty or on break.
8. Treats. It's perfectly permissible to bring a little taste treat for your crew. Just make sure it's safety-sealed - not your homemade muffins, which might be considered a safety hazard. I bring boxes of Walker's Scottish shortbread or factory-sealed chocolates. They're always a big hit and you may be rewarded with a free cocktail or maybe even get reseated in the exit row. It happens!
9. Pens! People are always asking flight attendants for pens, whether to complete immigration and customs forms or to simply do the crossword puzzle. Bring a few extra cheap pens, bundle them up and give them to your crewmember. It may not be as enjoyable as a box of chocolates, but they will surely put them to good use.
10. Wheels in! Try to put your carryon bag with wheels or handles facing in before commandeering twice as much space putting it horizontally. And, for heaven's sake, don't put your jackets or tiny bags in the bin. That takes up space for larger items that have to go there, and these smaller items easily can fit atop existing bags once everyone has boarded, or underneath the seat. Flight attendants will tell you that boarding is the most stressful part of their job, and by exhibiting an ounce of courtesy and common sense, it helps the entire plane get on the way more quickly.
11. Stay out of the aisles. Make your best effort to stay out of the aisles when the carts are brought out or when the plane is boarding. Try to use the bathroom before boarding or after takeoff, but if the crew begins their service, it is best to stay seated. The carts are heavy and awkward to manoeuvre, and there's no reason to become an obstacle to them unless absolutely necessary. And if crew members remind you that the seatbelt sign is still illuminated, remember that they are just doing their job.
12. Tell the airline. If a flight attendant offers exceptionally nice service, most airlines have a mechanism for recognising them. Ask for their employee number and note the flight number.
Where will all this kindness get you? No, you probably won't get an in-flight upgrade (although flight attendants do have the ability to offer them if there's room). Maybe the crew will forget to charge you for your cocktail. Maybe they'll reseat you if the child behind you is wailing like a banshee. I've been offered a bottle of wine at the end of the flight on more than one occasion.
But sometimes being nice is its own reward.
George Hobica is founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.