Insider information about flying can be somewhat shrouded. Some of that secrecy exists to keep the pivotal information germane to the airline industry safe from terrorists and other ne’er-do-wells, but some of the trade secrets are only under wraps because they would probably enrage passengers, were the truth to come to light. We tapped two flight attendants (let’s call them Elaine and Randy) who spilled all the secrets about flying under the condition of anonymity. Here’s what they had to say.
Cabin decompression can knock you out. “Once that oxygen mask drops, you have about 30 seconds to put it on, depending on factors like altitude,” says Elaine. “It doesn’t happen often, but that’s why you shouldn’t ignore the safety instructions.”
“I’ll deny it, but everyone is on the phone right up to takeoff, even the flight attendants,” says Elaine. “So just keep doing what you’re doing.” But know this: Some attendants are strict about it, she says. Don’t oppose them.
“Passengers and staff trip all the time. I’ve seen black eyes, lost teeth, and even broken arms,” says Randy. Blocking the aisle with your legs or feet is annoying and dangerous. Sit tight.
“Don’t eat directly off the tray table. People change diapers and clip toenails on it. And don’t walk around without shoes. Every bodily fluid has been on the floor,” says Randy. “That’s why you see dark blue on a plane—the seats and our uniforms. It doesn’t show stains.”
“Switching to a middle seat so a family can be together is considerate,” Elaine says. “That kind of gesture may earn you a free drink or premium snack.” Or you might pay less to upgrade your seat, Randy says.
“If people are up and being annoying, we’ll have the pilot turn on the seat belt sign, ” says Randy. “And we can have a note placed in your file.” (Didn’t know about that, did you?) That’ll red-flag you to future gate agents.
“The coffee’s caffeinated, but it’s not going to be the liquid crack you get at Starbucks,” says Elaine. “When we brew coffee for ourselves, sometimes we’ll ‘double bag’ it—add extra grounds. We don’t do that for passengers.” Pro tip: Fuel up before flying.
“It’s like saying, ‘Hey, let’s go do it in someone’s pee,’ ” says Elaine. “We also have to unlock the bathrooms more often than you think,” says Randy. And yes, they can unlock the bathroom from the outside. Busted!