Airport staff members share some spicy details from their job


Mobile devices

Although airports can be a tiring experience, they can also be one for fresh beginnings or just a place full of different emotions. We’ve got a lot to thank the airport staff for working so hard on making our experiences as smooth as possible. But their lives and their works are not easy, and these aspects shared by airport staff might answer some of the questions passengers would have liked to ask them.

Mobile devices

At times you will be asked to turn your mobile devices off due to signal interference, especially where take-off or landing is assisted from the ground. We’ve always wondered why we have to do this, really? Does it really make a difference? To accidentally forget to turn your equipment off is unlikely to result in a problem, but they can be dangerous during turbulence if not stored away – as flying objects.

Mobile devices

A phone will turn into a brick at 30,000ft and could be potentially life-endangering! That’s the actual reason why we are told to turn off our phones and keep them in our bags. Not necessarily because there will be some sort of interference with the flight like popular belief tends to be.

The salaries of flight attendants

The salary for Cabin Crew is dependent on each airline, but unfortunately, the job does not deliver the kind of wage the glamorous connotations the position holds.  Many crews are only paid once the doors are closed and the flight is in the air, and not for the time spent during delays and cancellations.

The salaries of flight attendants

The hours are long, and the shift patterns can leave them in perpetual jet lag. Hour for hour a flight attendant is paid little more than a supermarket worker in reality. They do get some benefits here and there, such as flight discounts and other privileges.

Does the Pilot have ultimate control?

Apart from being able to legally arrest someone, the Pilot can give orders to restrain or handcuff a passenger, and arrange for authorities to meet the plane on landing if they decide that a situation is dangerous to other passengers on board.

Does the Pilot have ultimate control?

Basically, the pilot has full command over everything on board in flight, and in a crisis, they can also legally hear a dying person’s last will and testament. This is a pretty powerful position to be in and quite a responsibility too. We can imagine the pressure that it can cause to new pilots. But it’s still one of the most awesome jobs out there.

Is Airplane food as healthy as it seems?

The honest unfortunate answer to this is no! Airplane food is packed with carbs, salt, sugar and fat. Hardly any nutritional value to speak of.  Mid-flight meals are what they are; made to sustain you through the flight, and not much else. There isn’t really that much thought put into the nutritional value and how much protein they are serving us. 

Is Airplane food as healthy as it seems?

Unless a person is flying first class or private jet, one would be advised to have a good meal before a flight and take a selection of snacks for the journey. This makes total sense especially for people who are wathcing way they eat and would rather have control over what they fuel their body with.

How is the unused food disposed of after a flight?

With the majority of airline food being mass produced in advance and chilled for up to 5 days, there are already a myriad of questions about the claims of being freshly prepared, but the general rule is that after each flight the unused meals are dumped.

How is the unused food disposed of after a flight?

Although this decision is left entirely up to each individual airline, there has been little evidence to suggest this is not the case.  It is only alcohol and canned soft drinks that are ever kept on board and just restocked through the day.

 

Is the life of a Flight Attendant as glamorous as it looks?

Glamorous is certainly not the word most Cabin Crew would use to describe their lives. Time away from home and loved ones, coupled with constant jetlag – especially with long haul flights – don’t make for the easiest of lifestyles.

Is the life of a Flight Attendant as glamorous as it looks?

Your forever-smiling Flight Attendant will battle with unmeasurably long and unsocial hours, not to mention call outs at a moment’s notice.

How important is my baggage allowance?

There is truth to the fact that when the baggage weight differs, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to even out and balance the weight within the hold.

How important is my baggage allowance?

There has been a history of sandbags being used as ballast, sometimes over 600 lbs a flight, and as you can imagine, that takes a lot of shifting and can result in flight delays!

Just how “at home” should you feel on a flight?

The cramped conditions of the cabin are made slightly more bearable with the introduction of the comfort travel pillow to some extent, but the unspoken rule of passenger etiquette and politeness is often broken by the removal of shoes and socks.

Just how “at home” should you feel on a flight?

Not only is this top of the gross list, but it can also cause no end of problems with bloodied barefoot accidents up and down the aisles. If the thought of stinky feet makes your stomach turn and you fancy a glass of water read on…

The airline crew works pretty hard…

While you may think that the 9-5 job that tires you out from Monday to Friday is tough enough, it’s nothing compared to how much airline crews work. In fact, it’s not uncommon for these guys to work a whopping six days a week at all kinds of hours of the day.

The airline crew works pretty hard…

This isn’t too comforting when it comes to them being in charge of your life, but they take enough breaks to make it safe for us all to fly. Phew!

The code for an upgrade

It must be said, being pregnant, polite and respectful, extremely tall or a well-known regular will often help when an upgrade becomes available on your flight.  A report must be collated by the Flight Attendants, so the highly desired upgrades are very dependent on seating, meal availability, and time constraints after the cabin doors close.

The code for an upgrade

By the end of this article, you will be much more likely to get an upgrade with the amount of respect you will pay your Cabin Crew in future!

What are the Cabin Crew assessing as they greet you at the plane door?

Cabin Crew undergoes training that makes them specialists in reading the crowd.  Not only is the plane door greeting an integral part of customer service, it also allows the Flight Attendants to spot any passenger who may need their attention later in the flight, e.g. those who are intoxicated or unwell, disabled or especially nervous.

What are the Cabin Crew assessing as they greet you at the plane door?

They are also looking at attitudes of the passengers, those who would be helpful in an emergency and those who could be a handful. Find out how they use this information later…

Where’s the Air Marshall?

Air Marshalls are not necessary on all flights in the US, but airlines in other countries, such as Israel and some Arab states, have Air Marshalls on flights as the norm.  You should never need to know who an Air Marshall is, or where they are sitting, as they fly incognito.

Where’s the Air Marshall?

But be assured that if an Air Marshall is assigned to your flight and you didn’t know it, they did their job well and you arrived safely! Just how the Cabin Crew defend a plane is disclosed later in the article – prepare to be impressed!

How do you know your Airplane is sturdy enough to fly?

If you have ever wondered just how thoroughly your plane is checked before take-off you are not alone. The Pilot and Cabin Crew do the same, which is why they have an extensive list that is rigorously checked before, during and at the end of every flight. 

How do you know your Airplane is sturdy enough to fly?

The majority of in-flight safety issues are typically caused by unsecured items flying around the cabin during extreme turbulence.

Why is the brace position necessary?

If you are ever advised to adopt the brace position, you can be assured this will channel the force of any impact through the surrounding chair rather than through your body. It is also a wise position to adopt with turbulence, not because of impact risk, but to lessen the knocks and shakes that happen in bad weather. 

Why is the brace position necessary?

If you are especially nervous about flying, read on for the inside guide on finding the safest seat on the plane.

A medical emergency – what happens next?

Be safe in the knowledge that your Cabin Crew are highly trained as first responders and all planes carrying over 30 passengers are equipped with a defibrillator.  

A medical emergency – what happens next?

The passengers could be paged to see if there is a doctor on board in certain emergencies and in dire situations the pilot can divert the plane to the nearest airfield, which is fine on short haul flights, but more of a problem with overseas trips. Read the next shocking chapter to see the cause of most airline emergencies…

How safe is the water on board?

It is never safe to drink from a restroom tap in any circumstance, and the water in the coffee pots is fairly safe due to the temperatures. But as a general rule, bottled water is the safest way to consume water onboard flights.

How safe is the water on board?

You can now refill your own water bottles in the airport lounge cafes before embarking, and many airlines are now encouraging this. But bear a thought for the Flight Attendants who clean up after you and take your bottles home!

Are planes REALLY clean?

Perhaps it is best not to think too deeply about this and always remember to bring your own antiseptic wipes on board!  Unfortunately, the FAA does not govern the hygiene of airlines. This is down to self-policy and the crew on board. 

Are planes REALLY clean?

So, while your trays and armrests may be wiped over and floor vacuumed, a deep clean is not as regular as you would like to think. If you think your table may be grubby, read on before you ask for a blanket…

Do the crew eat the same as the passengers?

While the Cabin Crew and Pilots do have a separate meal from the passengers, they often opt out and bring their own food on board as a daily diet of airline food is not the best to sustain their lifestyle of long hours and jet lag. 

Do the crew eat the same as the passengers?

The real and little-known reason they do have separate meals is to prevent food poisoning. A queasy passenger is bad enough but I’m sure you wouldn’t want your Pilot in the same condition!

Why flight attendants hate pouring Diet Coke

The extra carbonated fizz in Diet Coke is sent into overdrive at 35,000 feet and will take over three times to settle into when poured into a glass, often being overpoured and spilled, causing problems to both the crew and passenger.

Why flight attendants hate pouring Diet Coke

Therefore, you will find that on most flights Diet Coke is now served in small cans, to be poured yourself.  To find out why you should take travel wipes on every trip read on…

The do’s and don’ts of passenger etiquette

Cabin Crew are there for two reasons. Firstly, to look after your every need, and secondly, to be trained in self-defense, to protect the cockpit against unruly or dangerous passengers. Your respect for their position should immediately be akin to that of a first responder, rather than just a glamorous frill to decorate your journey. 

The do’s and don’ts of passenger etiquette

Years of training have been taken to be able to wait on your every whim – but be thankful as they could also save your life if you choke on your peanuts!

Just how safe is it to fly REALLY?

Statistically, it is still far safer to fly than drive as the odds of being involved in a fatal air crash is 1 in 7,500, against 1 in 97 being involved in a fatal car collision. The most dangerous parts of any flight are always the take-off and landing as that is when most pressure is put on the mechanics. 

Just how safe is it to fly REALLY?

But with all checks in place, issues are few and far between.  Read on to see how the Pilots take extra precautions for landing…

Are the Cabin Crew allowed to sleep on board?

The job of the Flight Attendant has only just started as you are about to doze off, so ordinarily, sleeping on duty is frowned upon. But on long haul flights the Crew and Pilot are given scheduled rest periods.  

Are the Cabin Crew allowed to sleep on board?

There are cosy specially-built windowless sleeping pods on most Boeing 777 and 787 planes, but the Pilot has a separate bunk in the cockpit and gets to have a snooze while the Co-Pilot is at the controls.

Just how drunk can you get on a flight?

If potentially being the cause of rerouting a flight isn’t bad enough, perhaps a two-year jail sentence will sober you up! Yes, being found guilty of being drunk on a plane is illegal and it is also an offense for a Flight Attendant to continue to serve you once intoxicated. 

Just how drunk can you get on a flight?

Add to the fact that cabin pressure has long been known to increase the effects of alcohol, it may be wise to take it easy, as we have already told you the Pilot can have you cuffed in a jiffy!

Just what IS stored in the baggage hold?

Obviously, the vast under chamber hold is to store the many hundreds of bags and suitcases of the passengers but it also is there to transport human remains should an unfortunate traveler die abroad. 

Just what IS stored in the baggage hold?

You can be assured these “HR” boxes are securely strapped down and would never come loose in turbulence, in case you were wondering. But perhaps you’ll now be looking out for odd shaped boxes being loaded onto the plane!

Is it necessary to dim the lights at landing?

The cabin lights get dimmed for landing, as we all know. But is this just a gimmick? Absolutely not! There is method behind the madness; landing a plane is the most dangerous part. Should such a catastrophe happen, your eyes will be already accustomed to the dark and more able to read any emergency walkway lights and signs. 

Is it necessary to dim the lights at landing?

This is the real reason behind the dimmed lights, so put the book away and be grateful the airlines have thought about things before you need them!

What’s the truth about the recirculated air on board planes?

The cleanliness of air-conditioning systems may be something you may want to ignore, much like the overall levels of sanitation.  Despite the many horror stories, plane air is quite clean and is not pumped through from the engine exhaust as rumor would like to propel, but through the bleed air system. 

What’s the truth about the recirculated air on board planes?

Recirculated and fresh air through this system makes the air quality close to that of an everyday office. That’s the good news… but what about the oxygen masks? Read on to see just how safe they really are.

Can a plane still fly with engine failure?

It is the scenario of nightmares – flames shooting from a damaged engine. But in reality, it is an extremely rare occurrence, and one that has been considered with meticulous forward planning. Modern day jets are fully equipped to stay in the air with one or more engines in trouble.

Can a plane still fly with engine failure?

Even if all engines fail, Pilots are trained to glide a plane to land without engines for over 45 miles, which is plenty of time to find a safe landing strip!

Are the inflight pillows and blankets freshly laundered?

Undoubtedly the level of bacteria found on blankets and pillows are far less than the fabric on the seats or carpets, but are they freshly laundered? NO! They may be packaged in plastic wrap but for the most part they would have been folded and repackaged, unless very soiled, and changed only in accordance to the airline’s laundry schedules. 

Are the inflight pillows and blankets freshly laundered?

Word from the inside is that an early flight is the one that will have the cleanest pillows!

How long do the oxygen masks last for and are they ever checked?

One would hope that the oxygen masks above your head are checked as part of the normal part of daily cabin schedules and would have never been deployed.  

How long do the oxygen masks last for and are they ever checked?

However, should that ever happen, you can expect them to give you at least 15 minutes of oxygen, which may not seem long, but in reality, is enough time for a plane to drop to an altitude where cabin pressure will allow normal breathing. So now you can breathe safely… But where should you sit? find out on the next page.

Just where is the safest place to sit on board a flight?

Taking all aviation accidents into consideration, a high percentage of airplane accidents are completely survivable.  The rear of the plane is considered to be the area with a higher survival rate than the front and middle, but aisle seats and those close to emergency openings plus the use of seatbelts can dramatically increase your chances of getting out alive, according to numerous crash data analysis reports.

Just where is the safest place to sit on board a flight?

Worth thinking about if you get to choose your seats in advance as most airlines have a seating plan at booking.

What is the best time of day or night to plan a flight?

According to the best source available (the Cabin Crew), very early morning flights are the best time to fly for a few reasons.  There is much less turbulence as the dawn air tends to be smoother, plus there are always less thunderstorms in the mornings. 

What is the best time of day or night to plan a flight?

Often planes are deeper cleaned after the last flight of the evening, making a morning flight the freshest of the day. So at least you can catch up on sleep in a cleaner seat with a smoother ride!

How often does your Pilot hand over the controls?

Believe it or not, but nearly 90% of the flight is controlled to a degree by the on-board computers and the skill of the Pilot in the modern age is to read the controls and act accordingly.  During take-off and landing, the Pilot is fully in control, apart from incidents of extreme weather conditions where ground control have to help due to poor visibility. 

How often does your Pilot hand over the controls?

The Pilot and Co-Pilots are very much still a vital part of aviation. It will be a long time before pilotless commercial planes can be brought into public use.

It pays to be nice to the check-in staff…

When you’re passing through the airport, it can be easy to get super stressed and irritated with everyone and everything in front of you. However, it seems it pays to be nice to the check-in staff, as they have control over where you sit!

Check-in staff often put rude passengers next to screaming babies on a flight
It pays to be nice to the check-in staff…

According to former airport workers, check-in staff will often put rude customers next to young children and babies – as nobody wants to be sitting next to a screaming child for nine hours straight!

Do the cabin crew accept tips?

Let’s be honest, if someone offered us more money to ensure their drink arrived on time, we would 100% do that for them – and it’s no different when it comes to cabin crew. While they don’t officially ask for tips or a service charge, flight attendants will accept them and will make sure that the rest of your flight goes swimmingly.

Although cabin crew do not officially ask for tips, they will accept them and tend to your needs
Do the cabin crew accept tips?

If you’re a bit short on money, they’ll appreciate any gift you give them, even if it’s a used magazine!

The food trays aren’t as clean as they may seem…

It’s fair to say that airplane food isn’t like Michelin-star dining, but there’s only so long you can survive on bottled water and candy bars for – and sometimes you just have to give in to the airline food. While most of us worry about the food on the tray, we often forget to think about what our food is resting on.

Airline food trays are normally only cleaned about once a day, meaning they get very dirty
The food trays aren’t as clean as they may seem…

Yep, the food trays! Wanna know something? These things normally only get cleaned once a day…

Do flight attendants get discounted flights?

While cabin crew members don’t get paid a huge amount to do their jobs, they do get a few perks – dependent on the airline. As well as checking out new countries and flying to some of the most exotic places in the world with their passengers, some cabin crew members also get discounted flights during their free time.

Flight attendants often get discounted or free flights during their free time
Do flight attendants get discounted flights?

Of course, this doesn’t happen within every airline, but some of the bigger companies do allow these little perks. That’s pretty cool.

You aren’t the only one to use the earbuds!

There is nothing worse than boarding your airplane and realizing that you’ve forgotten your headphones. Sure, you could make conversation with the person next to you – but does anyone who’s not in a movie even do that? Luckily, the airline often comes to your rescue and hands out free earbuds.

The earbuds you get during a flight are simply cleaned and resealed in the bags each flight
You aren’t the only one to use the earbuds!

Because they are sealed, you think they are brand new, but this is just a ploy. In fact, these earbuds are simply cleaned and resealed in the bags…

Is the plane totally up to scratch?

When you step foot on an airplane, you’d like to think that the whole plane is up to scratch in terms of its safety standards, and there’s not a scrap of metal in the wrong place.

Flight attendants have noted that there is always something wrong with the plane at one point
Is the plane totally up to scratch?

However, flight attendants have noted that there is ALWAYS something wrong with every single plane you ever get on. It might be something as small as the seatbelt or a light fitting, but it’s almost always the case. Oh goodie.

People believe in ‘airline miracles’

Whether you believe in miracles or not, it seems as though some cabin crew members from various airlines believe in ‘airline miracles.’ As a rule of thumb, cabin crew are there to help those who struggle to walk on their own and those that need wheelchairs.

‘Airline miracles’ exist, where people who cannot walk beforehand magically start to walk again
People believe in ‘airline miracles’

Yet, there are often times where the cabin crew do not need to step in to help them off the plane again – as they have magically regained the ability to walk!

Do the flight attendants use their own secret hand signals?

Although we bet flight attendants wish they could gossip about the rude customer they’ve just experienced, flight attendant do not have their own language or secret hand signals that they use to communicate with each other.

Flight attendants do not have their own secret hand signals to communicate with each other
Do the flight attendants use their own secret hand signals?

Of course, they do have a professional signal system in place to talk to each other when they are not close, but they do not use anything that cannot be interpreted by a passenger.

Are you hungry?

Sometimes the plane food isn’t so great but you have a long flight and are kinda hungry…maybe even starving…well don’t be nervous to ask the flight attendants for more food. Many times it is possible to ask for another serving and they will be happy to give you one if possible.

Are you hungry?

If there is any left it usually gets thrown out so taking some more is not so bad. Eat up.

Restrooms can be opened from the outside

You know things can happen and if they do flight attendants need access to all areas of the plane including the restrooms. This means that even when you lock your restroom on the plane if needed a flight attendant can enter.

Restrooms can be opened from the outside

They have a master key so don’t think of doing anything bad in there they will find out and will stop you if they need. No tricks.

No bulhead, no crying

Many times people want to purchase bulkhead seats so they can have more legroom but flight attendants will tell you to reconsider this before paying because on most plane rides the people who buy these seats are people with small children who really need that extra room to take care of them.

No bulhead, no crying

This can lead to a flight experience full of crying and noise. So beware next time. Try to fit with smaller leg room and get a quieter more peaceful flight.

Clapping can be rude

In lots of countries, people enjoy clapping at the end of the flight sort of giving a ‘final praise’ to the pilot and the entire crew. But some crew members don’t enjoy when this happens, they find it a bit ridiculous and makes them feel like they put on a show. To them flying is not a performance but a full operation and landing safely is their job and priority.

Clapping can be rude

The gesture can be nice but somehow they may find it a bit insulting at times. They will always try to do a good job regardless of clapping or no clapping.

Judging everyone

Like in any other job flight crew want to have a smooth and peaceful day at work and this truly almost depends on their passengers. So when they get on the plane the flight attendants are eyeing everyone trying to understand what kind of customer they will be.

Judging everyone

They can spot out the rowdy ones, the rude ones and of course the sweet ones. So be nice and always smile and respect your flight crew they just want to get through the day like everyone else.

The real reason

There is usually almost always delays on flights. The reasons may vary from a logistic difficulty to a customer issue but many times the flight crew tell the passengers a different reason that is not always the truth. Flight attendants say that many times they make up excuses that aren’t true in order to not scare passengers about technical issues that could make them stressed.

The real reason

The issues will be fixed but just the sound that something might be wrong with the plane itself can put passengers off ease.

Their safety spiel is not just for show…

No matter where you fly in the world, you will always be greeted by a lengthy monologue of safety spiel from the cabin crew. They’ll stand in front of you, telling you that your tray table needs to be upright, your seatbelt needs to be fastened, and smoking is not allowed.

The safety guidelines announced by the cabin crew is a legal requirement
Their safety spiel is not just for show…

While it can seem pretty boring to hear the same thing over and over again, it is actually illegal for passengers to disobey these rules in the air.