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Flight attendants share eight things they watch out for in passengers
By the time you get to your seat, they already know what they need to about you.
Elijah Chan
04.29.21

As you board the plane, a cabin crew greets you at the plane door and ushers you into your seat. But what you don’t see is how these dedicated flight team is assessing and evaluating everybody in that short moment.

In case of an emergency, the plane can quickly turn into a high-risk environment given its isolation and inaccessibility of quick exits. That’s why cabin crews are trained to look for people who can help, would need assistance, and those they should watch out for. And as personnel who put everyone’s safety their priority, they also have the power to stop someone from boarding, because that’s the only chance they’ll ever get to.

Besides Christmas, this is actually the time where it’s a bad idea to be naughty. Here are 8 things that flight attendants notice about their passengers.

Your attitude

Matthew Hurst via Flickr
Source:
Matthew Hurst via Flickr

Just like any person in the service industry, cabin crew members have a story or two about difficult passengers. We all have to remember that flight attendants are still people and that they are there to make sure we’re comfortable all throughout the flight. Being nice goes a long way. Longer than a 12 hour flight, actually.

“When I say hello and a passenger responds back, I notice and think, ‘wow, that person is really nice.’ If I ever needed help with something, I’ll probably ask the nice passenger. [And] if a passenger ever needs help from me, I’ll probably go above and beyond the call of duty for a nice passenger.” ― Heather Poole from American Airlines shared with the Huffington Post.

If you’re physically fit

Pikrepo
Source:
Pikrepo

“I’m looking for able bodied persons who can assist with security problems inflight, as well as someone who appears willing and able to assist in an emergency evacuation. Typically, this is someone who is traveling alone and in street clothes, looks like they are in above average physical shape or is known emergency service personnel.” Zac Ford, a flight attendant with a major carrier, said to Huffington Post.

ABP’s or able-bodied people are passengers who can assist the cabin crew in case of emergencies. The first picks for the draft are off duty flight attendants, and service personnel like soldiers, policemen, or firemen. They also look for people who can understand instructions, so if you can’t follow a cannoli recipe, maybe you should be honest about it

Eye Contact

Delta News Hub via Flickr
Source:
Delta News Hub via Flickr

The eyes never lie, as the old proverb goes. It’s comforting to think that flight attendants are already planning on how to make you feel comfortable the very moment you step inside the plane. But we think looking at someone’s eyes is not enough to tell if it’s coffee or tea.

″[I notice] who makes eye contact with me and who doesn’t. More often than not, the ones who don’t make eye contact make me investigate… Are they scared of flying? Are they feeling okay? Are they dealing with a personal issue? These are things people don’t tell you outright, and a facet of my job is making sure everyone is having a comfortable flying experience.” ― Stephanie Mikel from Southwest Airlines told The Huffington Post.

How far you’re in

Tasha via Pixabay
Source:
Tasha via Pixabay

“I’m searching women to see if they are hiding baby bumps with loose clothing. After a certain point in a pregnancy, women need a doctor’s certificate to travel, and after a set period they are no longer allowed to fly.” ― Jay Robert of Fly Guy told The Huffington Post.

If you’re pregnant, you need to call your doctor and your airlines to know if you’re fit to fly. However, some airlines still allow women to fly no matter how far down they are in their pregnancy. Depending on the international law you’re in, the cabin crew might find themselves helping a mother give birth to a baby of different “nationality”

If you’re drunk

Daniel Zemans via Flickr
Source:
Daniel Zemans via Flickr

They might be offering alcohol at 35,000 feet but don’t ever think that it’s okay to step in a plane when you’re drunk out of your wits. Cabin crew members will put you on a special watch list just in case your drunkenness gets out of hand.

“Intoxication and aggressive passengers are prime suspects we try to identify at the doors. We are trained in basic taekwondo techniques to handle acts of aggression in the sky, but stopping them before they get up there is our main goal.” ― Jay Robert shared with The Huffington Post.

Many airlines use the “traffic light code” when dealing with drunk passengers. Green means you’re chill and cohesive. Being loud or animated puts you on yellow. Then anything beyond that will put you on read, which means “the bar is closed” but only for you.

If you’re sick

1Day Review via Flickr
Source:
1Day Review via Flickr

“It’s important to check if my passengers are fit to fly. Once all doors are closed and we’re airborne, it can get very challenging to handle medical emergencies. During boarding is the perfect time to take a look at who will be on my flight.” ― Claudia Sieweck from TUI fly explains to The Huffington Post.

Airlines have the right to refuse passengers who have sickness that can be aggravated during the flight, a potential safety hazard, could interfere with the comfort and welfare of everyone else onboard, and would need special medication or equipment. While a nasty flatulence is not a potential safety hazard, keep it in for the sake of the entire plane, please?

If you’re nervous

Superjet International via Flickr
Source:
Superjet International via Flickr

“I ask passengers if everything is alright if I have the feeling something isn’t perfect. Passengers with fear of flying get my special attention: I love to care for them and to make them feel comfortable.” ― Claudia Sieweck from TUI fly shares with The Huffington Post

This is a great thing to know for first time flyers or anyone who’s just anxious about flying. If you’re nice enough, they might also slip in a treat or a shot just to get you off your jittery nerves. If that’s not perfect service, we don’t know what is.

If you’re luggage is over limit

Elizabeth Masek via Flickr
Source:
Elizabeth Masek via Flickr

Thinking of smuggling in the suitcase that you crammed over limit? Think again. Flight attendants are trained to scan you for five seconds, then they switch their attention to what you’re carrying. And they’re not judging the brand of your luggage. They’re assessing if you’re bag is heavier than it should be.

We might be tempted to slip through the baggage limits on hand carry luggage but it actually poses a safety threat since it can fall out of the overhead storage. Remember, the more we follow the rules, the faster we can take off.

Find out the other things flight attendants know that they don’t tell you about! Clue: You may want to lay off that plane coffee.

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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