19 Things Flight Attendants Wish Passengers Would Stop Doing

Air travel would be impossible without flight attendants to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort on board. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with some less-than-ideal behaviors and rule-breaking that can make their jobs frustrating and demanding. Here are 19 things air stewards wish passengers would stop doing for the sake of everyone on board.

Ignoring Boarding Procedures

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Despite the gate being more comfortable than the cabin, flyers always seem to want to board as quickly as possible. Ignoring the designated boarding groups creates chaos and delays because the boarding process is designed for an efficient flow of passengers. Priority boarding is for anyone requiring extra space and time, followed by boarding by aisle, back to front.

Being Unprepared With Children

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Young children can make air travel challenging for themselves and others, so a little preparation goes a long way. Flight attendants recommend packing enough snacks and activities to keep children occupied throughout the flight, particularly those known to be disruptive or easily bored. Parents who fail to prepare often make their children everyone else’s problem!

Disrespectful Behavior

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Flight attendants are professionals who ensure your safety and make your flight as safe and comfortable as possible. However, USA Today reports, “In the past year, there have been 1,973 reports of unruly passengers, per the FAA.” Airline staff often have to deal with rude demands, name-calling, or being ignored when giving instructions.

Hogging the Overhead Bins

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The overhead bins are a shared space that almost every passenger uses, so it’s inconsiderate to take up more space than is fair. Try to pack light and limit yourself to one carry-on bag and a personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you. Put unnecessary items in your hold luggage. This saves flight attendants the stress of having to find extra space for bags.

Not Using Headphones

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The airplane cabin is a relatively small space, and the sound of your music or videos will disrupt other passengers trying to relax, sleep, or concentrate. Always use headphones or mute your electronic device when listening to music, watching movies, or playing games—turning the volume down is insufficient and will cause a disturbance.

Over-using the Call Button

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The call button above your plane seat is there to alert staff members to any concerns about your safety or well-being—it’s not a way to constantly demand attention! Using it for trivial matters, like ordering another drink or asking the time, disrupts stewards from attending to more important issues, like helping other passengers with seat belts or food allergies.

Changing Seats Without Asking

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According to View From the Wing, airline staff are often legally obligated to keep passengers in their designated seats for safety reasons, such as knowing where people are in the event of an accident. Whether or not you can switch seats or move to an empty row is entirely at the flight attendant’s discretion and should not be done without getting permission.

Fully Reclining

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Although technically allowed, reclining your seat as far back as possible is a little selfish, as it can significantly restrict the legroom of the passenger behind you. Be mindful of your seat position, especially on long-haul flights or in crowded cabins. Try to be courteous by reclining your seat minimally, if at all.

Standing Up When the Seatbelt Sign is On

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For your safety, the seatbelt sign is illuminated during takeoff, landing, and periods of turbulence. Many passengers ignore this safety instruction and parade around the cabin or use the toilet when it’s risky. Try to use the bathroom, stretch your legs, or fetch items from the overhead lockers during the middle of a flight, when the seatbelt sign is most likely to be off.

Eating Strong-Smelling Food

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The close quarters of an airplane cabin lack windows, and strong odors, like fish and eggs, can become overpowering in such a small, communal space. Bringing your own food is perfectly fine, but avoid anything that might offend other passengers. Opt for odorless finger foods, like pastries, fruit, breads, and chips, rather than elaborate (and stinky) meals!

Trying to Board with Oversized Luggage

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There are specific and clear size restrictions for carry-on luggage, so attempting to board with a bag that won’t fit in the overhead bin or under the seat creates unnecessary delays and stress. Reader’s Digest asserts that passengers who do so are a real headache for flight attendants, who have to then get the bag quickly labeled, paid for, and sent to the hold.

Putting Their Feet Up

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Countless passengers touch airplane seats and armrests throughout the day, so putting your feet up on them shows a disregard for hygiene and etiquette. Taking your shoes and socks off is a big no-no, but even feet in shoes should be kept below your seat. Flight attendants prefer that passengers, especially adults, always keep their shoes on.

Trying to Sneak on Prohibited Items

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Security screenings are in place for a reason and shouldn’t be treated as your own personal game of ‘what can I get away with?’ Trying to sneak on prohibited items like lighters, flammable liquids, or sharp objects is a serious safety breach that can frighten other passengers or lead to long delays. The airline is obligated to establish the threat level and eliminate it.

Littering in the Cabin

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Even if you cannot easily get up to dispose of your garbage, it’s not okay to treat airplane cabins as personal trash cans. Keep your trash with you until an attendant brings around a bin or ask a staff member to dispose of anything especially sticky or wet. This helps keep the cabin as clean and pleasant as possible and reduces the workload for time-pressed cleaning crews.

Vaping or Smoking

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The Los Angeles Times reports that smoking or vaping on a commercial airline is illegal. It is not only a fire hazard but also exposes other passengers, including children, to harmful vapors and secondhand smoke. If you need to smoke or vape, you’ll have to wait until you disembark from the plane. For very long flights, consider a nicotine patch to help calm your cravings.

Becoming Rowdy or Disruptive

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Excessive alcohol consumption, loud arguments, or other unruly behavior can disrupt the peace and comfort of other passengers, even if the revelers are in harmless ‘party mode.’ Flight attendants have the authority to remove excessively loud, disruptive, or intoxicated passengers, which can lead to penalty fines or even placement on a no-fly list.

Not Using Flight Mode

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Electronic devices can interfere with the airplane’s navigation systems, so every flight begins with a polite reminder to turn them off or place them in ‘flight mode,’ which essentially disables all signaling and communication attempts. This is especially important during takeoff and landing, so don’t disrespect the rules.

Opening Overhead Bins During Taxi, Takeoff, and Landing

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Unless the plane is cruising at altitude without turbulence, unsecured baggage can easily become dangerous projectiles, injuring passengers and crew. So, for everyone’s safety, the overhead bins must remain closed during taxi, takeoff, and landing or during turbulence. The seatbelt sign being off often indicates that accessing overhead storage is safe.

Being Ungrateful

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Some passengers are simply entitled and ungrateful, failing to see flight attendants as valuable professionals fulfilling an important and demanding role. Showing your appreciation to the cabin crew, especially if they’ve been exceptionally helpful, acknowledges their hard work and makes them feel valued—so don’t forget a quick ‘thank you’ as you disembark.

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