14 Flight Attendant Pet Peeves That You Might Be Guilty Of

Real-Life Flight Attendants Share Their Top Pet Peeves About Fliers

We hope you’re not one of the passengers they’re talking about…

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a newbie traveller, it helps to know airplane etiquette — which, really, is mostly just common sense and basic decency. Unfortunately, what might seem common and basic to some, might actually be something of a shock to others. Now that travel is officially back with a bang, we figured it’s about time we re-assess our behaviour from the moment we step on a plane. (And no, the high altitude is no excuse to leave your manners at the jet bridge). 

Well, who better to ask about in-flight no-nos than flight attendants themselves? So, we interviewed several Southeast Asian flight attendants on their biggest pet peeves — and best believe they were more than ready to share. Some even go as far as suggesting what you can do instead, all to avoid being that passenger worthy of a thousand eye-rolls. Ready to find out if you’re guilty or not? 

* Names have been changed for privacy reasons. 

Flight attendant pet peeves you should avoid doing

1. Walking barefoot inside the plane

flight attendant pet peeves

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Even more so, those who walk barefoot when going into the lavatory! (Yes, we cringed just as much as you probably did). “The carpet is probably the dirtiest part of the plane,” shared Carlos*. “Aside from the regular vacuuming and spot-cleaning, I know they would only clean it thrice a year.”

We get it, sometimes people just want to take off their shoes, especially during a long-haul flight. That said, Carlos recommends buying lightweight hotel slippers on Lazada or Shopee, which are easy to pack and often come at affordable prices.

2. Not respecting physical boundaries

Among many flight attendant peeves, this is perhaps the most no-brainer. We get it, sometimes you have to get their attention. But please, don’t ever poke or tap them without consent. “I find it extremely disrespectful. Also, there’s a reason why we have name tags on,” said Nica*. We get such an action might be acceptable in some cultures, but keep in mind that what is okay for you might not be okay for others!

And in case they didn’t hear you the first time, you can always press the call button. Although, speaking of that button…

3. Ringing the call button over and over again

flight attendant pet peeves

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This also applies to those who accidentally press that button, and keep repeating that same mistake. Remember to wait at least 10 minutes before ringing it the second time, in case someone missed it. But whatever you do, don’t treat the call button like it’s your gaming controller and you’re in a boss fight. Or better yet, don’t treat flight attendants as if they’re the help who are at your beck and call.

4. Leaving your food tray extremely messy

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“It makes it very hard for us to collect because we have to fix up the mess, and it’s also hard to fit it back inside the trolley,” said Andrew*. We get it, some are messier eaters than others. But at least try to clean up the actual food tray and neatly arrange the containers, wrappers, and bottles after eating. Trust us, it would mean a lot to your flight attendant!

5. Standing up literally as soon as the plane lands

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Yep, never mind that the seatbelt sign is still on. “It annoys me big time because this is one of the most crucial parts of the flight and even us [cabin crew] are not yet allowed to stand up immediately,” shared Janice*. “So whenever passengers stand up during this time, we have no choice but to also unbuckle our seatbelts and tell them off. This is very risky for us as well, so I really don’t like it when passengers do this.”

We’ve also seen so many passengers trying to push their way off the plane first. Seriously, folks, that won’t actually save you any time.

6. Ignoring (or even contesting) turbulence-related rules and announcements

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Another type of “seatbelt fiend” on the list of flight attendant pet peeves? Those who would unfasten in the middle of turbulence and are unaware of the hazards! “Even after the cabin crew had vigilantly checked that all passengers complied with the requirements, some would insist to use the toilets and threaten to do their business in their seats or at the doorway,” according to Gina*, who has been in the industry for over 20 years.

The veteran flight attendant also shared her experience with passengers (mostly frequent flyers) who actually think they know better than the trained crew. One even demanded to speak with the captain! “He contended he had flown that specific route many times before and had never passed through areas of turbulence, especially on other airlines,” she explained. “Another blatantly declared he was familiar with turbulence and would know how to deal with it… he obviously had nil comprehension.”

We don’t know what else to say except this: For the love of all things good and true — listen to the trained professionals. It really isn’t that hard, and it might just save your life.

7. Being entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal

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Or as we would like to call it: an Airplane Karen (regardless of gender, obviously). Based on Gina’s experiences, it’s usually the frequent flyers who act this way; it seems that riding a plane many times doesn’t always equate to being a seasoned traveller. “Some passengers tend to feel entitled, and when they don’t get what they want, they make a huge fuss. Some have even insisted on speaking to the inflight service manager,” she shared.

She noted one time when a passenger didn’t get their preferred meal choice, they insulted the cabin crew and demanded to see the manager. “As though the manager would be able to create magic and produce the meal he wanted when there was none left!” On a different flight, there was a similar passenger who reacted negatively when he didn’t get a specific newspaper on board. “I remember from my earlier years, a fellow flight attendant once told a passenger: ‘Sir, please remember you are on a 747 [the aircraft type], not the 7-Eleven.’”

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Cringe-worthy horror stories aside, take note that some airlines do allow passengers (usually from certain cabin classes) to order items they need online before their flight. However, for those who don’t have this option, it’s best to just remember to bring whatever it is you’ll need or want during your flight. (Come on, it shouldn’t be that complicated.)

8. Boarding your flight completely unprepared

It’s common airplane etiquette to bring essentials that airlines don’t provide, such as jackets and pens. While it’s usually understandable with first-timers, travellers should generally have the foresight on what they have to bring to keep them comfortable — regardless of the flight duration.

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“For short-haul flights that range from one to four hours, some passengers actually expect the plane to get pillows and blankets. However, these are only available for long-haul flights,” said Lisa*. “It’s also important to dress properly and appropriately, especially if you’ve flown multiple times. For example, with long-haul flights, it goes without saying that we advise wearing comfortable clothes and bringing your own neck pillow.”

Also read: 6 Foolproof Tricks to Help You Survive a Long-Haul Flight

9. Refusing to show your boarding pass

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In Lisa’s experience, there have even been passengers who get annoyed when flight attendants ask for their boarding pass. Sure, you might be able to locate your assigned seat on your own. But have you ever considered that the cabin crew needs to check if you’re actually on the right flight?

“A flight attendant’s main priority is to ensure the safety of all passengers from the moment they enter the plane. There are actually a lot of instances where people end up boarding the wrong flight,” she explained.

10. Causing traffic during boarding

flight attendant pet peeves

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This can vary from standing too long on the aisle and blocking the way, to counter-flowing in that tight space just to get to your seat. According to Paul*, some passengers would immediately go all the way to the back to find their seat location, only to realise they already went past it. By that time, they would have to counter-flow and cause aisle traffic.

“It slows down the boarding process, and you could irritate other people by making them wait for you to pass through,” he said. Similar to the previous item, the obvious solution for this would be to simply show your boarding pass upon entering. That way, it will be easier for you to find your seat location.

11. Asking the flight attendant to throw your child’s used diaper

Honestly, we don’t know what else to say except — what the heck? We’ve said this once and we’ll say this again: Flight attendants are not your nannies.

We get it, travelling with infants and toddlers is hard. But at least have the decency to clean up after them, or ask the flight attendant for a trash bag so you can put the diaper there yourself.

12. Not putting your bag in the overhead bin because it’s “too heavy”

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This is probably the most frequently mentioned among all flight attendant pet peeves. Rule number one: Duffel bags, backpacks, and carry-on suitcases must go into the overhead bin; no ifs, no buts. Rule number two: Make sure it’s something that you can carry and lift on your own. “If you can bring it all the way to the aircraft, then you should also be able to place it inside the compartment,” stated Misha*.

Apparently, some passengers are even passive-aggressive about it. “During boarding, they would leave their bags on the aisle. They want the flight attendants to put their bags in the overhead bin for them,” shared Bryan*. “While we can assist elderly passengers, and those with infants or physical disabilities, it’s not our main responsibility for the able-bodied.”

13. Refusing to share the overhead bin with others

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Misha also mentioned how some passengers demand that only their own bags be placed in the overhead bin directly above them. “Their reasoning is, the space is and should be only for them,” she said.

For those who need a reminder: You’re flying commercial and you don’t own the aircraft. We highly suggest getting over it.

14. Flirting with the flight attendant

In this day and age, we don’t understand how some people still think this is okay. Not only is your flight attendant probably busy with their job, but making unwanted advances is just straight-up gross. 

Also read: 13 Types of People We Hate Riding A Plane With

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At the end of the day, being an A+ traveller comes down to observing proper airplane etiquette and treating the cabin crew with kindness. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or preparing for your first-ever flight, we hope this list of flight attendant pet peeves has taught you a thing or two. 

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About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.


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