The Unflattering Word You Don't Want To Hear A Flight Attendant Call You In The Airport

When it comes to flying, you don't want to be the source of frustration for your fellow travelers, or worse, overworked and exhausted flight attendants. Lest you wish to be unpopular among the cabin crew, you should avoid disruptive behavior that could land you a spot on their ignore list, including boarding the plane drunk, misusing the call button, and ordering copious amounts of Diet Coke (yes, really). Here's another tip: Huddling at the gate long before your section is called is also a big no-no. It's so frowned upon that flight attendants have dubbed over-eager passengers as "gate lice," which is definitely not something you want to be branded during your travels. 

There are plenty of reasons why some travelers choose to be part of the pesky gate lice crowd. Some are just excited to board, others are admittedly nervous, and certain passengers don't want to lose out on precious overhead bin space. However, seasoned flight attendant Rich Henderson told Business Insider that queuing up ahead of everyone else isn't going to score you brownie points from the crew, nor will it make the boarding process faster. 

"Just stay as out of the way as possible of the boarding area until your group is at least close to being called," he advised simply. "If our frequent fliers and top-tier people aren't even close to getting on the plane and your crew isn't even close to getting on the plane, you really have no business standing right at the gate." 

Crowding the gate can cause unnecessary disruptions

Boarding a plane is stressful enough as it is, but when you willingly join the ranks of gate lice, you're making the process harder for everyone else and just adding to the general chaos. Assembling at the gate with fellow eager passengers is not going to do anything to make you settle in your seat quicker, and what's worse is that doing so can significantly delay those who actually need priority boarding, like travelers who require wheelchair assistance. 

As Drake Castañeda, a corporate communications manager at Delta Air Lines and former gate agent, informed The Washington Post, "I've seen cases before where there are too many people who are standing and congregating in the gate area. That can slow down the process for those who are boarding and waiting in line." Likewise, adding to the throng gathering in front of the boarding gate can inadvertently set off a chain reaction among your fellow passengers. 

This quickly escalates into even greater boarding gate madness. Shira Gabriel, a psychology professor at the University at Buffalo, elaborated that this is because humans tend to rely on others for cues on how to act in unfamiliar settings. "So, maybe the first people who are getting up are worried about their bags," she said. "And all it takes is those couple of people, and then everybody takes that and learns from them how to behave in that situation and gets up as well."

Relax and try to practice patience

Since crowding the boarding gate before your group gets called only creates a bottleneck, the polite thing to do is to exercise patience. Take it as an opportunity to busy yourself with other things like reading a book, catching up on emails, or listening to a podcast. You can also chat with fellow travelers who are waiting for their turn to make time fly by.

If you're feeling particularly antsy and want to be the first in your row, head to the boarding area early and pick a spot near the gate. This way, when your section is finally called, you'll be well-placed to quickly join the line, and therefore be one of the first passengers to score overhead bin space and settle in your seat. If running out of the coveted bin space is causing you anxiety, don't fret, since flight attendants will likely ask that you gate-check your bag at no additional cost, unless your ticket type restricts full-size carry-ons. 

And don't worry, your bag will be treated with the same level of care as paid baggage. "Once tagged, the checked bags are left at the end of the jetway where the ramp agent takes them directly downstairs and loads them into the aircraft bin where all of the checked bags travel," a representative from Delta reassured The Points Guy. To be sure, just avoid storing valuables in the gate-checked bag, but generally, you shouldn't fuss about its safety too much.