20 Years at 30,000 Feet: A Flight Attendant Answers Readers’ Questions (Published 2022) (2024)

Travel|20 Years at 30,000 Feet: A Flight Attendant Answers Readers’ Questions

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/travel/flight-attendant-flying.html

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Does the cabin crew ever get scared in the air? Is there a secret flight attendant code? How do I survive a flight with my toddler? An industry insider answers.

20 Years at 30,000 Feet: A Flight Attendant Answers Readers’ Questions (Published 2022) (1)

By Kristie Koerbel

As a flight attendant who has been on the job for 20 years, it’s easy to take my travel insights for granted — the little tips and tricks that make the journey smoother.

But after watching so many passengers miss important events this summer because of airline cancellations and delays, I knew I had to start sharing that knowledge. Last month I offered nine tips for surviving travel now, and I was surprised by the positive response — and the thousands of comments.

After the story published, I invited readers to ask more questions, of which I received hundreds. I know, to some of you, I have a curious and mysterious job. It was fun to learn what you wonder about, from how we look so fresh after long flights (dim lighting) to whether or not you should drink the coffee onboard (I don’t, but most of the flight attendants do).

Here are my answers to a selection of your questions, some of which have been lightly edited for length and clarity. I hope you enjoy them.

I was recently assigned to an exit row once already onboard. I don’t want to be responsible in an emergency. What happens if a passenger speaks up about not wanting to sit there?

We want you to speak up. You have a very important job in that row, and we need to be able to trust everyone sitting there. We ask everyone in the row if they are willing and able to help in an evacuation, and being unwilling is perfectly understandable. Nothing bad happens; you can move to any other open seat, or we ask around for someone to trade seats with you. There is always someone who would prefer the exit row for the extra leg room.

What’s one thing you wish all passengers would do on a plane to make your job easier?

Acknowledging us as people and not treating us as part of the aircraft furniture goes a long way. It is demoralizing to welcome people aboard flights who look right through us with no response. Smiling, and saying little things like “please” and “thank you” always helps to boost our spirits. That perfect flight attendant smile is hard to keep when everyone around is giving us the stink eye.

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20 Years at 30,000 Feet: A Flight Attendant Answers Readers’ Questions (Published 2022) (2024)
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