A Flight Attendant Tells Us The Easy-To-Make Mistakes That Drive The Crew Up The Wall

If you've ever traveled via airplane, you already know that flying can be stressful. Most of us don't set out to be difficult passengers, but with all of the chaos involved in airline travel, we're often not our best selves when we arrive at the plane. Flight attendants understand passengers' stress throughout the experience because they see it every day. Immense amounts patience and tolerance are necessary for the job, and flight attendants tend to be very empathetic regarding issues like travel delays. Still, mistakes that passengers unintentionally make can grind the gears of even the most composed flight attendant.

Molly has been a flight attendant with two major airlines for seven years. She loves working as a flight attendant and plans to have a long career in the industry. When she's not up in the friendly skies for work, she travels extensively for pleasure. She's an expert in airplane etiquette, and during her time in the travel industry, she has seen quite a few mistakes from passengers.

In an exclusive interview with Explore, Molly shared some of the most common mistakes passengers make that drive flight attendants crazy. Even the most experienced travelers can slip into these behaviors without realizing it. Flight attendants are the ultimate source for genius travel tricks, and with Molly's tips, you'll be able to keep your cool during your next flight so that you, the flight crew, and your fellow passengers can have a pleasant and stress-free experience.

Come prepared

A little bit of preparation goes a long way when it's time to fly. Make sure you're ready for the journey by packing some essentials in your carry-on bag to keep you comfortable throughout the flight. According to Molly, you should wear some extra layers regardless of the temperature at your destination because it is difficult for flight attendants to control the temperature of the entire aircraft. It will likely be colder than you expect once you get up in the air. Many passengers dress for warm weather and then expect the flight crew to be able to turn up the temperature, but according to Molly, they have less control than you'd think. "It will be cold on the plane," she informed Explore.

Additionally, before you board the aircraft, memorize your seat number. You can hold up the entire boarding process if you pass by your seat and have to move against traffic to get back to it. "If you are actively looking for your seat while you walk to the back of the plane, the boarding process will be smoother, and we can get you to your destination faster," Molly told us.

Don't be afraid to ask your flight attendants for help

While certain behaviors annoy flight attendants, asking for assistance is never one of them. "As we like to say in our announcements, we are primarily here for your safety, but also your comfort," Molly told Explore.

Flight attendants are happy to help make your flight an enjoyable experience and will go out of their way to ensure you have everything you need. For example, many passengers fall asleep and miss the inflight snack and beverage service and then feel agitated that they missed their only opportunity, but Molly says it's totally fine to ask for a snack or beverage outside of the designated service. "If you miss service because of this, or we happen to miss you, feel free to push the flight attendant call button or ask one of us for whatever you need as we walk through the aisle."

That being said, poking, tapping, or touching is a behavior that flight attendants hate — especially when it's because you need to throw away a piece of garbage. You may think you need to touch your flight attendant to get their attention over the loud engine rumble, but you should simply raise your voice slightly or press the flight attendant call button. "Please speak up or politely ask us for what you need. I promise we didn't walk by you or ignore you intentionally the first time we walked by," Molly explains.

Don't get in the way of flight attendants performing their job duties

Staying out of the way during busy phases of a flight is a great way to ensure you aren't a problematic passenger. Flight attendants are often multi-tasking, and you can get in the way of the workflow. Ensure you pay attention to announcements and instruction. "Please listen to what we tell you to do," Molly told Explore. "I don't like being nagged as much as the next person, but we are honestly telling you these things for a reason and for your safety. It may sound silly when we tell you to put your bag under the seat, but we simply don't want you to trip over it if you need to get out of the row quickly."

Another thing that drives flight attendants crazy is when passengers hang out in the galley area of the aircraft — especially when they are trying to prepare for the snack and beverage service. While the desire to stretch your legs during a long flight or wait in line for the bathroom are valid reasons to visit the galley, try to stay out of that space as much as possible. "You have to realize, that is our only work space and relaxation area. We have a small space to eat, prepare service, and work," Molly told us. "It would be like me walking into your cubicle [at] the office and hovering over your computer while you type."

Stow your bags without all the baggage

According to Molly, the stowing of luggage is one aspect of flying that causes a lot of drama for many passengers. It's essential to be flexible and realize that overhead bin space can be tight during a full flight. 

"The most frustrating experience I've ever had on a full flight was coming from New York to West Palm Beach. We were boarding and making sure everyone's bags fit in the plane, along with the passengers. I was in the aisle helping organize the chaos. Backpacks are squeezed under the seats and everyone is packed in nice and tight. Two couples, not knowing one another, come on, each with loads of bags. [The] first couple comes on, puts their bags up, and sits down. The couple behind them doesn't find space for their bags and starts to move around the first couple's bags. This was a big mistake," Molly told us.

After that, the situation escalated quickly, and Molly feared that the passengers' anger may lead to a physical altercation. "I rush up, get between them, and simply say, 'You two are grown men fighting over bags. Get a grip! I will find room for both of your bags in the bins. If not, they will go under. Plain and simple. Now please, sit down,'" Molly told Explore. She encourages travelers to remember that your bags will make it, "but you might not if you behave like these passengers."

Above all else, be kind and respectful

Many passengers may not be aware of how long a flight attendant's work day is — especially when there are unexpected interruptions. Complaining to your flight crew about delays is a common and frustrating mistake because they have no control over the situation. Molly reminds Explore readers that "there are about a million different moving pieces to get that specific flight from Point A to Point B ... just keep that in mind for when you travel next and be sure to pack your patience."

Flight attendant morale is at an all-time low, so courtesy towards your crew and fellow passengers goes a long way. "Flying is a privilege, not a right. Flying can be stressful, from long lines at security to traffic getting to the airport, we get it. We are ultimately all packed into a metal tube together, and being kind to us and your fellow passengers makes the whole experience better for everyone," Molly told Explore.

Molly's final tip is that your flight attendants are always watching, and there is a lot they notice about you when you board a plane. "If one of us sees you doing something strange or off, we all know. We talk to each other," Molly told us. "Our job is to be attentive and notice things out of the ordinary. That's how we keep everyone safe. So, just know we see everything."