How To Be a Better Passenger at 35,000 Feet

Our site may contain affiliate links. Read Advertiser Disclosure policy here.

Flight attendants do a lot more than just serve peanuts and pretzels at 35,000 feet, and I think sometimes passengers forget that their primary responsibility is safety rather than making sure your Woodford is always full.

How To Be a Better Passenger at 35,000 Feet

How To Be a Better Passenger at 35,000 Feet

Per the Orange Country Register’s article, here are there ways to be a better passenger:

Say hello. If flight attendants greet you upon boarding at the door, say hi back. Don’t just ignore them. A simple “good morning” or “good evening” does it. How would you like to greet 20 people in a row and be greeted by silence? Well, that’s what usually happens.

Listen to the safety demo. It’s just polite. Put down your iPad and Kindle. When was the last time you really listened? If it was more than a few years ago, it’s time for a refresher anyway. At the very least, don’t talk loudly to your neighbor when a flight attendant is standing in front of you trying to keep you safe.

Headphones off. Take your headphones off when they ask you what you’d like to drink so they don’t have to repeat it three times. How would you like it if they were wearing headphones when talking to you?

Be specific when ordering. When you ask for coffee or tea, specify milk or no milk, sweetener or not, ice or no ice, without being asked, as in “I’d like coffee with milk please” or “I’d like coffee, black.” Not only does it make their job easier, but everyone on the plane will get served more quickly.

Say please and thank you. Sounds obvious, but say please and thank you when asking for and receiving something. Again, it’s common courtesy that will get you treated extra well. A flight attendant once told me, “We thought you were company,” (meaning that I worked for the airline) because I was so polite.

Magazines. Donate copies of your current magazines to the crew. After you finish reading this week’s US Weekly or GQ, give it to your flight attendant. Flight attendants love to read magazines when they’re off duty or on break.

Treats. It’s perfectly permissible to bring a tasty treat for your crew. Just make sure it’s safety-sealed – not your homemade muffins, which might be considered a safety hazard. I bring boxes of Walker’s Scottish shortbread or chocolates. Or maybe a movie pass? They’re always a big hit, and you may be rewarded with a free cocktail or maybe even get reseated in the exit row. It happens.

Pens. People are always asking flight attendants for pens, whether to complete immigration and customs forms or to simply do the crossword puzzle. Bring a few extra cheap pens, bundle them up and give them to your crewmember. It may not be as enjoyable as a box of chocolates, but they will put them to use.

Wheels in. Try to put your carry-on bag with wheels or handles facing in before commandeering twice as much space putting it horizontally. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t put your jackets or tiny bags in the bin. That takes up space for larger items that have to go there, and these smaller items easily can fit atop existing bags once everyone has boarded, or underneath the seat. Flight attendants will tell you that boarding is the most stressful part of their job, and an ounce of courtesy and common sense can help the entire plane get on the way more quickly.

Stay out of the aisles. Make your best effort to stay out of the aisles when the carts are brought out or when the plane is boarding. Try to use the bathroom before boarding or after takeoff, but if the crew begins their service, it is best to stay seated. The carts are heavy and awkward to maneuver, and there’s no reason to become an obstacle to them unless absolutely necessary. And if crewmembers remind you that the seatbelt sign is still illuminated, remember that they are just doing their job.

Tell the airline. If a flight attendant offers exceptionally nice service, most airlines have a mechanism for recognizing them. Ask for their employee number and note the flight number.

You probably won’t get an inflight upgrade (although flight attendants do have the ability to offer them). But maybe the crew will forget to charge you for your cocktail. Maybe they’ll reseat you if the child behind you is wailing. I’ve been offered a bottle of wine at the end of the flight on more than one occasion. 

Bottom Line

I think a lot of these tips on the list are common sense, but how many of things do we actually do on every flight?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About Points, Miles & Martinis

Here at Points, Miles and Martinis, we love all things travel. We focus on topics relating to travel including destinations, airline, hotel, car rental and credit card reward programs. Our goal is to help people travel better. - See more at our About Us page.

Sign up for Email || Twitter || Facebook |Tips & Tricks
Hotel Offers || Airline Offers || Bank Offers || Cash Back Offers


  1. Awesome post! We should all be kinder when traveling, especially to our FA. A box of chocolates does wonders as well as plenty of please and thank you. About the best I have received in return (never expecting) is a wonderful goodie bag that must have contained all of the liquor on the cart and about 5 days of snacks. I still smile about that one and hope to see those FAs again just to say thanks again.

  2. Nice article. I was happy to discover that I I do most of these already – and these same tips work with hotel staff too.

    One question though: It had never occurred to me to bring treats for the crew — how do you give them to the FAs? I mean, as you are boarding, are you holding a box of chocolates and say “these are for you?” Do you wait for beverage service and offer them up? How do actually do this?

  3. I frequently get thanked with perks, from moved to a better seat to free drinks, just for being myself. I am who I am and don’t do it expecting anything in return. The best thanks I received was from a flight attendant on AA that brought me two, unopened wine bottles (one white and one red) from First Class. I was sitting in the last row of Coach (with a full fare ticket) from DFW to SNA, and struck-up a conversation with a very tired attendant. She handed me the bottles, wrapped in a towel, and said that I made the last leg of her very long and stressful week a pleasure. A smile and her grateful comment would have been enough, but the wine was quite the treat. The morale of the story is to treat people the way you want to be treated. In the case of a weary crew member, maybe treat them just a bit better! Happy flying everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *