Never Ask a Flight Attendant This Question, According to Experts
An expert says this ask should be off-limits when you're on a plane.
Flight attendants have seen it all: medical emergencies, day-long delays, and turbulence that would make most of us lose our lunch. Despite all that, one of the most difficult parts of their job is dealing with unruly passengers. From fliers who refuse to wear a mask to those who take missed connections out on the staff, there are so many types of unsavory guests. One of the most common? Passengers who ask impolite and inappropriate questions. Here, flight attendants and etiquette experts tell us the one question you should never ask on a plane (plus a few others, too).
Never ask a flight attendant, "Can you watch my kid?"
Asking this question—and others that require your flight attendant's attention for long periods of time—undermines their primary responsibility: aircraft safety. "People should understand that being a flight attendant is more than serving customers," says Julia Esteve Boyd, international etiquette consultant and former flight attendant. "Customer service is a very important aspect of the job, but security and safety take priority."
If you do require a moment's assistance, consider asking a fellow passenger first or politely asking your flight attendant if they have time for a small favor. However, keep in mind that helping you with personal issues isn't your flight attendant's job. "Of course, time permitting they may offer to help," says Esteve Boyd. "But it shouldn't be presumed that it's OK."
You shouldn't ask a flight attendant about switching seats either.
If your aircraft is at half capacity, it can be tempting to ask your flight attendant to move to a seat with more space or one that's further away from the bathroom. However, you might want to skip it—at least until the plane gets in the air.
"This is inconvenient especially during boarding when there is little time to answer these demands," says Esteve Boyd. "Perhaps after take off if there are seats available the question can be asked." On that note, Boyd recommends not asking for upgrades either.
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The flight attendant can't help you if you're upset about the flight being delayed.
Sure, a two-hour delay on the tarmac or a tropical storm in your path is frustrating, but you should keep those feelings to yourself. "The flight attendants are not responsible for the weather, mechanical delays, additional fees, or pricing," says Jodi RR Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. "If you are upset about something Mother Nature or the airline has done, please do not scream at the flight attendants." Try to distract yourself with a movie, a book, or a deep breath. It'll make the time pass by and (hopefully) give you a sense of calm.
And under no circumstances should you ask, "Are you a member of the Mile High Club?"
We really hope you already know this is a question to avoid. "The number one thing that flight attendants hear—most often from guests who had some alcohol before the flight—is: 'So, are you a member of the Mile High Club?' and variations," says August Abbott, certified etiquette expert at JustAnswer.
Esteve Boyd also notes the question is both common and unacceptable, as is asking your flight attendant on a date. "[Doing so] is inappropriate, potentially considered as sexual harassment, and 99 percent of the time unwanted attention," she says.
Instead, sit back, buckle your seatbelt, and mind your manners. You can rest assured you're getting from point A to point B while maintaining your status as a considerate flyer.