The Etiquette Of The Airplane Call Button: Here's When You Should Really Use It

To be successful at getting from point A to point B when flying, travelers often need to approach the experience with planning and organization. From making sure luggage adheres to weight requirements to getting through airport security, it takes some effort. Not to mention being ready and waiting when your boarding group is called.

For all the work passengers put into making sure they're ready to fly, the onboard crew is tasked with even more responsibility. While it can be tempting to feel like you deserve to be catered to once you reach your seat, airplane etiquette doesn't end with boarding. There are unspoken rules in place as you fly designed with respect for all in mind. When to appropriately use the call button is among them.

Zippia reports there are nearly 90,000 flight attendants employed in the U.S. These professionals are responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers by providing routine services and responding to emergencies according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nowhere in the job description does it say a flight attendant is your personal concierge. This is important to keep in mind before you hit the call button to request a drink.

The call button onboard an aircraft is designed for when you need legitimate assistance. To that end, there are plenty of situations when using it is appropriate. However, it's far from a beverage request button and not something you should press if you'd like your earbuds delivered before everyone else onboard.

Decipher between assistance and service requests

Before you reach to press the call button, be sure to ask yourself if you're requesting help or simply looking for service. The safety of passengers is a top priority for flight attendants. If they're constantly having to respond to call button requests for things like throwing away miscellaneous trash items, it could distract from important aspects of their work and responsibilities onboard.

It is absolutely appropriate to use the call button if you believe you or another passenger is having a medical emergency. There's no reason to hesitate to hit the call button if someone onboard is in a state of physical distress. When a situation like this arises where you know you need help to find a solution, flight attendants will respond to the alert quickly.

In general, it would be considered rather rude to use the call button to ask for a food or snack delivery. The exception would be a scenario where you're possibly traveling with an infant and can't manage to head to the back of the plane and request something extra in person. Another exceptional scenario when the call button would be okay to use might be if you find yourself seated next to the window and other passengers in your row are all sound asleep. In this case, it would be more polite to have a flight attendant drop something off rather than having you jump over the entire row.

The call button as a response to a request is acceptable

Flight attendants are certainly available to help passengers during flights, but that doesn't mean they're exempt from following Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Just like passengers, flight attendants must be seated in the name of safety while an aircraft is taxiing, taking off, and landing. That makes it futile, and also disrespectful, for passengers to press the call button during these timeframes to request items like extra blankets.

While you want to be conscientious about when you're using the airplane call button, it's also good to know that using it in response to a personal request from a flight attendant is absolutely fine. Every once in a while, a flight attendant might use the intercom to let passengers know they've found a lost item. In this case, you can use the call button to indicate your position on the plane as the owner of the item so they can easily come directly to you.

Flight attendants might also request passengers use the call buttons to indicate where they are on a delayed flight. This is helpful if they're trying to organize for a tight connection upon landing. In this scenario, using your call button could be the difference between making or missing your next flight and is always perfectly acceptable.