The 7 Most Annoying Things about Flight Attendants
Flight attendants. We love ‘em, but let’s face it, they can be a lot. As a full-time flight attendant, I’m allowed to talk some shit and share the secrets. So here we go. Today I’m rounding up the 7 most annoying things about flight attendants.
Buckle up, it’s about to get real.
1. We never know what day it is
Friday is a feeling when you’re a flight attendant, and it could happen on any calendar day of the week. Flight attendants are constantly asking “Wait, what day is it?” and showing up to regular weekly obligations on the wrong day. They’ll ask you to join them for brunch when it’s Wednesday and you’re working. Get excited for taco Tuesday when it’s Saturday. We get the Monday blues on a Friday.
Because air travel is a 24/7 operation, for many of us, weekends are not a thing. We don’t have the regularity of a set weekly, or even monthly, schedule to stay on track. Instead, things are constantly changing. We work days, we work nights, we wake up in one time zone and go to sleep in another. (On a related sidenote, don’t be annoyed if we bid you “goodnight” and it is 11am.)
Try to be patient with your confused flight attendant friends. We are doing the best we can to keep it all straight. If you’re making a plan with us that’s within a week, try saying “This Tuesday—that’s the day after tomorrow,” for example, to give us some context. We’ll appreciate the effort and your accepting us in all our mixed-up, time-challenged glory.
2. Our lifestyle will make you jealous
I hate to say it, because even saying it is annoying, but we all know it’s true. Flight attendants lead a decidedly envy-inducing existence. Our Instagram posts from all over the world will give some serious FOMO, and our “clowning around on the plane” shots give a sneak peek into what is surely the funnest job ever.
We don’t often post photos of the human feces we’ve encountered on the rugs of the airplane, the vomit we’ve been doused in, or the condition of the aircraft, each seat stuffed full of garbage, on a particularly full Orlando flight. We don’t post about our employers believing we are immortal, sleepless creatures and trying to work us into 18-hour shifts. And we never post videos of the people who berate us as if we’re not human beings at all (usually over such important items as: a broken TV screen, needing to check an oversized bag, or having to store a laptop for takeoff.)
You heard it here, folks. There is more to being a flight attendant than cute ass scarves and free travel. Don’t go feeling too bad for us, though. ‘Cause like most things in life, and certainly in our profession, the good outweighs the bad. We love what we do. One of the reasons we savor (and insta-) our happy, globe-trotting, fun-loving moments is that we know not every moment will be like that. So, we carpe the shit out of our diems and hope not to get puked on next flight.
3. We hate making plans
Our schedules are flexible, and we make them ourselves, so this tidbit may seem counterintuitive. But let me explain.
Because we are paid an hourly wage, if we have a lot of plans for the month it can be difficult to fly enough hours around those plans to make our desired income. And there is something a bit depressing about sitting down to make next month’s schedule and having none of the “flexibility” you have become accustomed to. It makes us want to throw mini tantrums when certain spectacular trips are off limits due to prior engagements. We love going to your things—weddings, showers, dinner parties, getaways— seriously, we do. But in the moment, it kind of sucks knowing all the days off you’re requesting are for someone else’s ‘thing’.
Many of us like to leave blank spaces in our schedule—a block of 3-7 days in which we’ll “pick up.” (This means add a trip to our schedule that someone else is dropping). Why “plan” for last minute schedule adjustments? Simple. Our schedules for each month are created and distributed based on seniority. I can only get a trip that the people above me did not want. Once those schedules are published, though, throughout the month flight attendants can drop, swap, and pick up trips on a first-come-first-serve basis. Leaving a blank space in my schedule gives me the opportunity to work something that I could not hold with my own seniority. And having a patch of nothing in my schedule allows for a kind of cushiony safety net, if you will. “Sure, my hours say 90 right now, but once I ‘pick up’ on those blank days, I should be able to get at least 100.” Quite simply, time is money.
Then there is the fact that we are downright spoiled by the ability to switch our schedule up whenever we feel like it and as much as we please. For us, having days blocked off for plans can feel super restricting.
I know, we’re annoying. Just try to bear with us if we go on a tangent about how “I don’t know when I’m going to be able to work this month I have so many things.” It’s not you, it’s us, and we can’t help it. 😊
4. We’ll tell you our life stories
I’m not sure if this very annoying flight attendant trait lives on outside of the airplane, but it is worth mentioning either way.
There is something about sitting on a jumpseat that makes you want to spill your guts. Or at least that’s how it seems based on the fast friendships I’ve made and TMI stories I’ve been told.
The notion of “coworkers” that most people have is completely different than what exists in airlines. There is no consistency of seeing the same people all the time. We show up to work a trip and meet the coworkers we will be flying with for the duration of that trip. We might never see them again once we’ve finished the trip, so there are not days and weeks and months of warming up to someone. That combined with the social nature of our job makes bonding a relatively quick process. Our “work day” could be a four-day trip with flights, hotel stays, and crew meetups for dinner and drinks. You work a four-day trip with someone, and it can feel like you’ve known them for years.
Because we’re social and because we have lots of downtime in between coke-slinging and seatbelt enforcing, we talk. And we talk a lot. I have heard of lovers and torrid affairs and too-soon deaths in families. I have seen photos of dogs and kids and gardens in houses I’ll never see and families I’ll never meet. I have been privy to mental health struggles and dating woes and big dreams and tales of adventure. I have heard it all on the jumpseat.
Flight attendants are annoying because we, as a group, overshare. We are used to doing relationships fast and on the fly. But I must confess this little annoying trait is one of my favorites. Having come across so many people of different ages, backgrounds, and identities, I want to hear every life story. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and they’re all fuel that keeps me going. So many stories to tell. Or maybe I just like feeling like a confidante. Either way, if you fly with me, keep talking.
If Instagram posts like this make you jealous, then look away.
5. We are change averse
Another one that seems strange for people who are constantly swapping schedules, crossing state lines and time zones. But it’s true. Just tell a bunch of flight attendants about a new baggage policy and watch what happens. Even the most mundane thing—switching a snack or beverage brand—will cause a monsoon of opinions, voiced loudly. We love being able to change things we want to change—our schedule, where we live, where we are based (this is which airport we work our trips out of.) But everything else? We would happily never change a thing until the day we died. Maybe it is that the changes are out of our control and we have no say in most of them. Maybe it is that we are on the front lines, dealing with the brunt of any negative reaction by the public. (Hello, mask-policing!) Or maybe we just don’t trust that someone who doesn’t do this job could ‘get it right’. And the fact is the decision makers in this industry, along with most other industries, do not do the job.
Whatever the reason, you can expect the flight attendant in your life to talk about every change to work policy, procedure, and amenity. Expect them to be negative about it, and just know that’s how this works. You don’t have to try to cheer them up. They know deep down everything will be fine in the end, just like after swapping from paper tickets to electronic, from munchie mix to cheez-its, and from free agents to union members. New things just take some getting used to for us. Eventually, we forget all about our worries and complaints and each new thing feels old and normal.
Speaking of negative…
6. We complain about our job even though we love the shit out of it
Put two flight attendants together and there will inevitably be complaints about work. Negativity about that new company policy they think is stupid, shit-talking rude customers, shit-talking other coworkers for that matter. And don’t even get us STARTED on the pilots. Sometimes the complaints are legitimate and warranted, like when we complain that our work rules are terrible, and we are not paid enough. Others are petty, like how I hate the way people hand me trash stacked into a leaning tower of Pisa as if my hands were Andre the Giant size (RIP Big man!) or when I complained in a blog post about the flight attendant who stole my seat. But either way, you shouldn’t get it twisted.
We freaking LOVE our job. It’s almost like family—I can say what I want about them, but don’t you even think about it. We might talk shit about our company, passengers, coworkers amongst ourselves, but bring a non-airline person into the mix and suddenly we are professional recruiters.
“I work 15 days a month and travel for free!”
“I’ve met so many amazing people doing this job.”
“The flexibility is unlike anything else.”
Sometimes complaining among coworkers has very little to do with any real negative emotion. Sometimes it is just commiseration, something to talk about, a way to bond with one another. If you are an outsider and get caught sitting in on a shop-talk complaining session, just gently remind us that you are there and have no idea what we are talking about.
But be prepared, we’ll try to recruit you next.
7. Our job is a WHOLE lifestyle
My ex used to refer to Flica, my work scheduling software, as my “other girlfriend”. Our schedules are insanely flexible and for many of us—myself included—that means constantly checking to see what’s out there. A better trip? A long layover in a city we’d been hoping for? Sufficient coverage for me to take a holiday off? More hours? Not all of us are like this, some people take what they get and are happy with it. But for many of us, it is a sort of high being able to swap out of your trip and into something better—more pay for less work, a better layover city, any number of things depending on the person. This can be really annoying for the people around us who have to stop their story mid-sentence so we can focus on Flica.
The other thing that can be really annoying for regular folk who happen to be in our lives is that when two flight attendants get together—watch out. We talk shop a LOT. As I mentioned above, just give us a wave “Hi guys, regular person here. Please stop talking airplanes.” We’ll do our very best to be better.
This lifestyle of ours can also be really annoying to the important people in our lives. Friends, family, and significant others. My schedule is the bee’s knees now, but when I first started seven years ago that was far from true. I worked weekends, I worked holidays, I worked four flights in one day—like ALL the time. I missed social gatherings, one after another, because I couldn’t hold the day off, because I unexpectedly got delayed or stuck somewhere.
And being in a relationship with a flight attendant?! It’s not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for us to be gone—a lot. To come home and be speaking a language that isn’t yours, full of acronyms and technical terms. Be prepared for us to be tired. To sleep strange hours. To break plans. To show up late. To be unreachable. To be fine with being far away from you.
It can all be difficult for the other person. Some relationships are not strong enough to withstand the distance and changing schedules. Some strain and some crumble. But if there is a solid foundation of trust, mutual respect, and a willingness to think outside the box to make it work, a relationship with a flight attendant can be downright awesome. The travel perks, the flexibility in scheduling, the pleasure of dating an independent free spirit with an endless supply of good stories, just to name a few. If you can deal with sharing us (with our amazing lifestyle) then consider taking on all of these annoying traits and falling in love with a flight attendant. If not, no hard feelings, find a ground dweller.
And that’s it, folx. The seven most annoying things about flight attendants. Did any surprise you? Do you have other annoying flight attendant traits you’d like to rant about? Send them in the comments below but try to be nice. We do have feelings, you know. If you love and appreciate your FAs, don’t be shy to give us a little shoutout, a peptalk, or, my personal favorite, chocolate on your next flight.
Have a lovely weekend and safe travels, y’all!