- An unnamed flight attendant revealed secrets of the trade in an interview with Vice.
- She says nobody switches off their phones on planes, not even staff members.
- There’s also an ideal time for joining the mile-high club, she says – but there’s never a good time to order coffee in the sky.
- She says there’s only one way to score an upgrade, and it’s all about bargaining power.
There’s something intriguing about the life of airline crew members. Maybe it’s the pristine uniform, the jet-setting lifestyle, or the secret codes and signs. But people in the industry often say the job is nowhere near as glamorous as it appears.
Confirming that is an unnamed flight attendant at a “major American airline” who revealed some fantastically funny – and disgusting – truths about life in the air in an interview with Vice.
The flight attendant, whom Vice gave the pseudonym Betty, gave an honest account of some of the unfortunate realities behind the scenes.
‘Nobody turns off their phones’
Betty says not all people abide by the instruction to turn off their phones before takeoff.
“Nobody turns off their phones,” she told Vice. “I don’t, even.
“All of those commands are really just precautionary. You’re not allowed to get up when taxiing to the gate, but we’re going 3 miles an hour. What’s actually going to happen?” She added: “I guess at some point, something had to have happened for them to have made the rule. At least, that’s the bulls— excuse they gave us during training. Some time, at some point, someone did get hurt.
“I mean, I push it. I don’t always wear my seatbelt. Actually, one time I didn’t wear it, the landing was pretty rough and I jerked forward and hit my head, so I felt like a bit of an a—— there.
“Yeah, but keep your phone on. No one cares.”
If you want to join the mile-high club, do it during food or drink service
For passengers looking to have a little fun while aboard, Betty says there’s a best time to attempt to join the mile-high club – at least on small airplanes.
“Wait for service, when the attendants are all in the aisle,” she said. “Everyone’s busy and has a job at that point, and I don’t care what’s going on behind me then. There could be 10 people in the bathroom and I wouldn’t be aware of it.”
This probably wouldn’t work on a jumbo jet, though, where she says crew members are dedicated to patrolling the toilets.
“For shorter flights, the attendants aren’t watching you like you think we are,” she said. “We’re on our phones in the back with the others or doing our jobs. We don’t want to be near that bathroom at any point in time, and we’ll avoid it at all costs.”
However, she added: “Godspeed if you’re gonna try and have sex in one. They’re disgusting and small, but it is possible.”
A plane bathroom is the ‘most disgusting place on the planet’ …
On the subject of loos, she’s also not impressed by how passengers use them.
“It’s crazy how dirty people are on planes,” she told Vice. “Those bathrooms are the most disgusting places on the planet. There’s no way these people act this way in their normal lives, but they get on a plane and go cool, I’ll just pee all over the floor and dump my peanuts right on the ground.”
… and the coffee could be swimming with E. coli
Betty says there’s another disgusting aspect of flying: the coffee.
“Don’t drink the coffee on airplanes,” she said. “It’s the same potable water that goes through the bathroom system.
“We recently had a test for E. coli in our water, and it didn’t pass, and then maintenance came on and hit a couple buttons and it passed,” she continued. “So avoid any hot water or tea. Bottled and ice is fine, of course.”
Annoying passengers get ignored
If a passenger gets on her nerves, Betty has a few methods of dealing with them, she told Vice.
“Usually, I spend the majority of my time just ignoring them,” she said. “You don’t really have much to work with, so it becomes a power play.
“I try to assert myself as much as possible and let them know I’m the boss by not giving them their orange juice with ice, or giving it to them with ice if they asked for no ice. Weak pours for drinks, stuff like that.”
- Flikr/George Parrilla
She says that to kill time on a long, boring flight, she’ll often play “who I would save first.”
“Like in the instance of an emergency landing,” she said. “Obviously get the kids off first and all that.”
She added: “You spend a lot of time daydreaming, a lot of time staring at your passengers and mentally putting them in situations with you that would never happen.”
A free upgrade can be as simple as giving candy to the crew
And finally, it wouldn’t be an airline interview without asking the one burning question everyone has: How can I score a free upgrade?
Her answer: just be extra nice to the crew once the doors have closed.
“Give me candy, and I’ll give you whatever you want,” she told Vice. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
She added: “If there’re seats open in business class, and it’s not going to affect me negatively, or there are first-class seats open and I can still eat my first-class meal if I put you up there, I’ll put you up there. As long as you’re nice to me, no problem.”
Oh, and flight attendants apparently “don’t keep count of those mini bottles of alcohol,” she said.
- Flickr/MIKI Yoshihito