Why Are Flight Attendants So Cranky? Here are 40 Good Reasons.
Ahhh summer travel is upon us. And that means cranky flight attendants.
We are all glad to be getting back to normal life (glad-ish in my case), but summer travel can present some special challenges for flight attendants. Far from glamor and good times, summer travel can sometimes feel more like hell on Earth. During these *special* times, I thought it would be fun to talk about something central to the image of flight attendants: Their crankiness.
A lot is made of flight attendants’ bad attitudes. It is the stuff of comedy skits—SNL and Key & Peele and countless blog posts. The general public is largely in agreement: Flight attendants are the worst. But why?
In this post, I’m giving insight into some of the biggest reasons flight attendants seem so cranky. As someone who loves her job and genuinely enjoys it, I think my cranky flight attendant spells are few and far between. But even through my even-keel, I sometimes find myself annoyed thinking “THIS is why flight attendants are cranky.”
I’m not advocating being a dick. I’m just here to explain some of the reasons flight attendants might seem cranky to the outside observer. I try to be understanding when travelers don’t know what they’re doing or act a little extra on the plane. Because I know travel can be stressful for people, that not everyone has the opportunity to travel enough to reach pro status, and that, honestly, delays, mechanicals, and broken TVs really do suck. Maybe after reading this post you’ll be able to empathize with us—your cranky flight attendants—just a little bit better. Without further ado, here they are:
Top 40 Reasons Flight Attendants Are Cranky
1. They have not slept.
(We never sleep. It’s a rule.)
2. They have said the same phrase 16,000,000 times
“Chips or cookies.” “Chips or cookies.” “Chips or cookies.” “Chips or cookies.”
“Could you push your bag under the seat in front of you?” “The bag needs to go under the seat in front of you.” “Could you push your bag under the seat in front of you?”
The first three times it isn’t so bad, but by number 57 it gets really rough. ESPECIALLY when you have to repeat the same list or request to two people sitting directly next to one another.
3. They have been doing this job for 50 years.
4. Crew scheduling just called them to sit lineholder standby.
5. They are delayed into their day off. And they have plans.
6. They are reassigned to a new flight. And they had plans on their layover.
(The moral for us is to never, ever make plans.)
7. Because of the delay, they’re going to miss their commute home. They’ll be sleeping at the airport tonight and, again, missing their day off tomorrow.
8. They have to argue with people to wear masks while suffering their own hot-breath-maskne hell in silence.
9. You asked “What?” more than once before taking your headphones out so that you could hear what they were saying.
10. They haven’t eaten a hot meal in 4 days.
11. The pilots took extra long in the briefing…telling jokes.
12. The APU is inop. And we’re in Orlando.
(Translation: The air conditioning is not working.)
13. You tried to start a fight with them when the overhead bin above your seat was full,
instead of just asking where you could stow your bag.
14. The guy in 12D just poked his beefy, stranger finger into their side to get their attention. (Or worse, their butt.) Meanwhile, the woman in 12A just snapped her fingers to get their attention.
This should go without saying, but do not touch your flight attendant. Use your words.
15. They have a migraine/cramps/morning sickness/allergies/the beginnings of a cold/a blood clot they are unaware of but is currently threatening their life/any other health issue that a human could suffer.
16. They have to poop.
17. You’re demanding a refund.
Maybe your seat doesn’t recline, maybe your TV is broken, maybe they ran out of Diet Coke and you have a serious hankerin’. Whatever the case, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the money you paid for airfare did not go to your flight attendant, and they can not refund it.
18. Some dude just asked them about the mile high club.
19. The captain just asked “So, what did you do before this?”
20. You are listening to your music or videos or facetime on speaker. Pretty rude, man.
21. They are doing all the work because the rest of their crew is hella lazy.
22. The new reserve they’re working with is full of hope and optimism and wants to know their favorite layover, all the places they’ve been since they started working here, how their initial training experience was, and what trips they like to work. (Sorry, Reserves. We love you, but this shit is draining.)
23. 17C pressed their flight attendant call button TO HAND THEM TRASH.
24. The guy that just boarded said he wants his steak cooked well done (gross) and that he’ll take the lobster, too.
25. They’re stuffed into compression tights like a goddamn sausage.
26. They get the pleasure of having a stranger’s rear end mere inches from their face while eating lunch. And they are eating that lunch sitting next to the bathroom.
27. Someone just had explosive diarrhea in their seat.
(I am not making this up. See: My Craziest Flight Attendant Story Ever.)
28. They are at the end of an 18-hour work day. (EIGHTEEN.)
29. You are mad at our beverage or snack selection. Instead of writing to the company about it (or just, you know, getting over it) you proceed to give us a piece of your Doritos-missing mind.
30. Instead of saying “No thank you,” when offered a snack or beverage, passengers ignore us like we are not human beings standing there, directly asking them a question.
31. You said “On my last flight it fit.”
Looks like that was then and this is now, buddy.
32. A parent is allowing their toddler to walk through the aisle, unaccompanied, during turbulence.
33. Another parent is asking their young child if they want anything to drink while the child is watching TV with noise-cancelling headphones and clearly can not hear them. They are continuing to ask repeatedly, but making no move to remove the headset or choose for them. The flight attendant is waiting for a response and the rest of the cabin is waiting for drinks.
34. The people in the LAST ROW of the aircraft waited until everyone else was off the plane to begin putting their jackets on and gathering their belongings.
35. The Flight Attendants’ rest was reduced. (But last week they tried to swap a trip and were illegal by one minute.)
36. Their company tries to be All-American Dad when a union campaign is going on, but turns into an abusive father when staffing is short.
37. They got vomited on.
38. They were just told to “Shut the fuck up” by a passenger, after informing him of one of the rules. In fact, they are verbally abused by passengers from time to time. They are called “bitches,” “fcking btches”, “Fggots”, and any manner of more creative, but no better, nicknames. And that’s not to speak of the less offensive but dripping with disrespect category like “Whatever.”, “Leave me alone,” and “Get out of my face.” And what makes this all better is…
39. They didn’t make the rules. Flight attendants spend all day being a pinball between the regulations set by the company and FAA and passengers who would rather die than follow said regulations. They become the punching bag of new policies. (And these days, some of us actually get punched!)
40. They are human. Like everyone else—you, me, all of us—flight attendants have personal lives, their own problems, and bad days. Sure, they should try to keep it out of the workplace, but just like the rest of the humans, we aren’t perfect.
Alllllrighty then. Those are the top 40 reasons your flight attendant might be cranky. And this is just a small sampling off the top of my head.
Are a lot of these things petty? Sure they are. They’re petty AF. But we are all human, and sometimes the petty BS—over and over in rapid succession—is enough to make you less than your best self. We all let the little things get to us sometimes, so let’s try to have some empathy for one another. Maybe you’re huffing and puffing about the overhead bin because you are anxious about a family member in the hospital that you’re flying to see. Maybe you’re being a dick about your broken TV because you’re a nervous flier and you read in last week’s post that watching TV is a good way to distract yourself from the fear.
I try my best to not take things personally for this reason. You can’t see the whole picture, and you just never know what is going on behind the scenes. I’d implore you to give the same grace to your flight attendant if they seem a little cranky on your flight. In fact, I think we should all try this out on a larger scale, with the thousands of strangers we encounter in our day to day lives. Try not to take things so personally. Keep in mind we are all human, we all fuck up, we all have bad days. Remember that you can’t see what someone else is going through, and try—even when it is very difficult—to have empathy for them.
Or just have a shade parade. No difference to me.
FAs: If you are shaking your head, slamming the table, shouting “YES! THIS! Exactly THIS!” or if you find just reading this list is making you annoyed, it might be time for a little breaky-poo. Take a day off, sis. Hit the beach, get some rest. Come back when you’re ready. Remember this job is only what we make it, so take the best of it and leave the rest of it. Keep in mind that after all 40 of these things happen (on one flight) that the shit show ends when you step your foot on that jetbridge. Tomorrow is a new day. This afternoon is a new day. Don’t hold the shit.
Did I miss anything? What else makes you cranky AF? Passengers—are you guilty of these things? Tell me your funniest cranky FA story in the comments! We could all use a good laugh in these difficult times.
Thanks for tuning in to another episode. Come back next week for more. And have a safe, happy holiday weekend.
I’m Toni and I run the show here at A Wheel in the Sky. If this is your first time stopping by, thanks and welcome!
If you’re interested in learning more about #flightattendantlife, or are a fellow sky worker looking for content you can so relate to, feel free to check out these posts: