These Behaviors Are Polite In Theory, But Flight Attendants Hate When You Do Them

Here's a question for frequent flyers everywhere: do you consider yourself a five-star passenger, or have you been accidentally annoying flight attendants and breaking airplane etiquette every time you board a plane? The answer might surprise you.

More often than not, passengers think they're being polite and helpful, when in reality, the complete opposite is true. That joke you think is really funny about upgrading you? Most flight attendants find it incredibly annoying — and it could get them fired. The way you're trying to help by moving things around in the overhead bins? It can easily land you on a flight attendants' naughty list.

Don't worry, though. The internet has you covered. On Reddit, flight attendants and other airline staff come together to share their thoughts and experiences on the subreddit r/flightattendants. A go-to for everything from career tips to job listings and even industry news, it also hosts a wealth of information related to the most common words, actions, and behaviors that annoy flight attendants to the skies and back. Keep reading for what most of them had to say.

Touching or using nicknames to get their attention

For starters, flight attendants' most common pet peeves stem from passengers getting a little too comfortable a little too quickly. Sure, this mostly happens when passengers are trying to be friendly — however, there's a fine line between that and being downright disrespectful. When trying to get a flight attendant's attention, for example, steer clear of nicknames and terms of endearment that you'd normally use with someone you know, and leave words like "Honey" and "Darling" at home. This isn't "Mad Men." It's best to simply say, "Excuse me."

Flirting in any other form is also a big no-no. While you might think you're just trying to be friendly with the person pouring your gin and tonic, you're not actually in a bar — and the flight attendants are working. Also, flirting can easily slip into harassment territory, so just don't.

Finally, several flight attendants on Reddit also named their biggest annoyance as passengers touching them to get their attention. We assume people do this to avoid shouting at them — but that's not an excuse. Again, a polite "Excuse me" or a quick press of the call button is enough.

Serving yourself from the cart

In addition to being called by something other than their name, flight attendants' also have peeves when it comes to how you handle yourself during food and drink service. First, it's important to keep in mind that the refreshment cart isn't a self-serve buffet — you can't just reach over and grab what you're craving. 

And while certain passengers might think they're making a flight attendant's life easier by grabbing their own cups or snacks and serving themselves from the drinks cart, the reality is that planes have an allotted number of refreshments that flight attendants need to keep track of. Plus, it's also pretty unsanitary behavior — especially considering you've already touched a bunch of spots on an airplane that tend to be less-than-spotless. 

This ultimately means that serving yourself messes up their count and puts cleanliness at risk. So, what should you do instead? Wait patiently. They'll get to you when it's your turn.

Getting too excited with your trash

Next, flight attendants love it when you clean up your space — but only if it's at an appropriate time. So, while you might feel that handing over all of your trash as quickly as possible is polite, they much prefer that you hold onto it until they come by to collect it while they're wearing gloves. Think about it this way: no one wants to handle other people's trash with their bare hands, right? Well, neither do they.

In fact, several flight attendants on Reddit complained about passengers handing them dirty diapers to dispose of. One even shared that a passenger had put a dirty diaper on the service cart, which stopped service entirely, disrupting the plane's food and beverage operations. Instead, change a diaper in the bathroom, leaving the dirty one in the trash there, and make sure to never try to flush it — this will just end up clogging the pipes.

Doing the flight attendant's job for them

We're on the last leg of our journey through passengers' annoying behavior, and we've finally come to the dreaded "organizers." You know the type: passengers who want to "help" flight attendants by taking care of things on the plane. Several flight attendants mentioned passengers reorganizing overhead bins as a habit that bugs them. In fact, this seemingly helpful behavior is a big no-no, as touching other people's possessions can make them angry. Moving things around also makes it difficult for flight attendants and passengers to find things when deboarding the plane. Reorganizing the overhead bins is the flight attendants' job — not yours. The best thing you can do is stow your bag quickly and step out of the aisle, into your seat.

Another pet peeve of flight attendants is when passengers take it upon themselves to call other people out for breaking the rules. No, your fellow passenger should not be using their laptop during take-off. Yes, seats need to be in the upright position for landing. However, it's not up to you to play aviation sheriff — and doing so could cause a much bigger conflict. If you need to, quietly alert the flight attendant. Otherwise, keep to yourself.

Getting (too) chatty

Finally, while you might feel like striking up a casual conversation with one of your flight attendants means you're just trying to be nice, it's actually adding to their workload. Let's put it this way: flight attendants have to deal with hundreds of passengers during a single flight. And while someone is making demands, another isn't following orders — all while you're chattering into their ear about how fun your trip was.

Ultimately, this means trying to chit-chat just gets in the way of their job: taking care of passengers and ensuring their safety. If you need clarification on something, go ahead and ask them a question. Once you have your answer — if there's no need to keep the conversation going — let them go.

However, this doesn't mean you can't still show appreciation. Once you've finally landed and are disembarking the aircraft, make sure you don't only say "thank you" to the pilot and walk away. Acknowledge your flight attendants! After all, the entire crew worked hard to make your journey go smoothly, so the least you can do is thank everyone as you deplane. And while we're at it, say hello while boarding, too.