When I was younger, I thought it’d be fun to be a flight attendant: they get to fly to exotic places on the company dime, and they look so glamorous strolling through the airport with their uniforms and their rollaboard bags. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve learned that it’s not nearly as glamorous as it seems. Flight attendants might get to see the world, but they also have to deal with passengers, who are often angry, rude, drunk, messy, ill, or all five. And I suspect that when you’re seeing the daily workings of the air industry—when you’re seeing how the sausage gets made—it takes a lot of the fun and magic out of air travel. Still, there’s nobody who knows more about air travel, so we’ve gathered stories from flight attendants who share secrets about the industry. Come learn the good, the bad, and the ugly from people who see air travel at its best and its worst.
#1: Keep an Eye Out
I’d never noticed it until this question pointed it out, but if you think about it, it is kind of weird that the flight attendants have you open all the windows before you begin your takeoff or landing. I think I always assumed it was because they wanted them all open for the next flight that got on, and it was easier to have the passengers do it than for them to go through and open them all.
But apparently, that is not the case and there’s more important reasoning behind this. Apparently, flight attendants are relying on passengers to let them know if they see something crazy going on outside. Next time I’m in a window seat, I’m going to take my engine fire spotting responsibilities very seriously.