At the end of many years observation as Cabin Crew, in my ofﬁce at 30,000 feet up, some things could still surprise. Forget Hollywood stars and business travelers, the following groups are the ones I found most fascinating. If you ﬁnd yourself on a long ﬂight look around and you will be guaranteed to see at least some of these traveling types. You may even be one.
These are my top 10 surprising long haul Frequent Flyers.
1. People who ask where the toilets are at the end of a 12 hour sector.
Is this really the ﬁrst time you have been? Everyone knows on a ﬂight you can never have too much water. Give yourself a decent chance of not feeling like a dried apricot when you land. Recycled aircraft air is bone dry, around 11 % humidity, so moisture is literally sucked out of you. This is not urgent on a SYD-MEL sector, but you are guaranteed a non- alcoholic hangover if you donʼt drink several litres of water between Australia and Europe. Apart from lipstick and a medicinal coffee or two, it is the secret of all hosties* being able to still speak by the end of the ﬂight. And the secret to not wearing a path to the lavs and wearing out your neighbours patience? Add juice or hydration sachets. It doesnʼt go through your system as quickly as plain water.
2. People who go to the loo barefoot.
Are you insane? While I can vouch that the loos are regularly wiped down from the mirror to the ﬂoors (the glamour!), it only takes one passenger to miss a spit into the sink to make it seem like someone has gone through a metabolic change there. Just think of it like this: would you go into the MCG loo barefoot at halftime? Well the trafﬁc is about the same only the bathrooms in sporting ﬁxtures donʼt rock and jump from side to side and up and down while you aim. I have seen footprints on the toilet seat, vomit and other human waste up the walls. The mile high clubbers seem benign in comparison. Enough said about bathrooms.
3. People who donʼt believe the crew.
If the hostie says there is no Cranberry juice, you donʼt need to ask 10 other hosties as well. They WILL talk about you. If they ask you to turn off your phone before take off, turn it off. It is not because they donʼt want you to play Words with Friends, it is because they are obliged BY LAWS AND REGULATIONS – if you donʼt turn off, standard operating procedures dictate that the aircraft canʼt take off. If the Captain says to put on your seatbelt there could be turbulence, then put on your seatbelt. I have seen heads go through lockers, and people lose teeth. You and your children are not exempt from the laws of physics. Hell, do you unbuckle your kids on the F3?
4. People who think cola is a good drink choice for their children on a ﬂight.
Iʼm not kidding, people regularly asked me for caffeinated soft drinks for their tiny travel companions. I have been asked several times for Cola in a baby bottle. I was asked once for Cola in a baby bottle with a few spoons of sugar added. If you do ply your little ones with soft drinks after take off, do not be surprised when they drift off to blissful slumber…… 14 hours later on landing into LAX. Sleeping children and baggage carousels do not mix well.
5. People who lose their mind at 30000ft.
Ask yourself: would I say this/do this/behave like this in my local coffee shop? If the answer is no, cease and desist whatever it is you are contemplating. Would you cry or yell, or tell the waiter you hated them because the last lamb roast was ordered? Would you punch an old man in front of you if he moved his chair closer to you? Would you roll your eyes at anyone with small children? Would you change your clothes in the middle of the room? Kiss a complete stranger in a room full of other strangers? No? Well donʼt do it on a plane. If only because you have nowhere to hide your embarrassment for the next 10 hours. It happens.
6. People who are only vegetarians at 30,000ft.
Yes, itʼs usually true that vegetarians get served meals ﬁrst but every special meal has to be hand delivered by name before anyone else gets to eat, and then you will have your empty tray while everyone else gets served. With crew to passenger ratios just under 1:50 in the Economy cabin during a meal, running up and down delivering trays can add pain to everyone, not just the hostieʼs bunions. I know you are special, but so is everyone else.
7. People who think it will ﬁt in the overhead locker.
If you have to ask yourself, you already know the answer. There is no magical Tardis cupboard on the plane which will ﬁt your carved elephant, precious mirror, chandelier or feather headress. Even the crew have trouble stowing their own bags when the aircraft is empty. Aircraft are so efﬁciently designed that every galley cupboard is full to the brim of other stuff, like, I donʼt know, food, and life rafts and boxes of juice. Just one meal service in an Economy cabin with around 350 people will go through at least 30 cartons of juice alone.
8. People who ask for the best seat.
There are no best seats. I have been begged for a seat at the bulkhead (no-one reclines onto you), and been cursed on the same ﬂight for being seated there (I canʼt put my feet under the seat in front and the basinet is next to me!). For all the people that want an aisle, just as many want the window. Sadly no-one wants a middle seat. Some seats are near toilets and some are near galleys. I have been asked for a seat “up the front” about 72, 324 times. And, before you ask, there is only one way to get a seat in Business or First – pay for it or use your billion points. For everyone else, check www.seatguru.com for a plan of your plane and get to the airport early to put in a request. Once “your” seat is gone other people canʼt be forced out of it.
9. People who book a connecting ﬂight an hour after their ﬁrst ﬂight lands.
You will miss your connection, or at the very least curse yourself while you test your hypertension medication running blindly through a foreign land to an unknown place. And try not to be indignant if the plane lands 10 minutes late after traveling 17,000kms. I have dropped my kids to school 10 minutes late, and we live less than a kilometre away. And unless the hosties have ﬂown to Copenhagen on their last slip, they donʼt know the airport well, so donʼt be surprised if they donʼt know where your connecting ﬂight leaves from. Every airport has different procedures, and the crew usually have their own separate ones as well. At some airports they get a bus from the tarmac and donʼt
even go into the terminal when they land. Ground staff truly are the airport experts.
10. People who never take off their headsets.
Offers of “Would you care for coffee or tea?” elicit a broad friendly smile and a nod from Type Number 10. The mime which ensues is sure to entertain everyone around – although pulling away your cup while the coffee starts pouring out will not make you a popular neighbour.
*Please only call them hosties if you are one. Otherwise they are Flight Attendants.
It took Kristen 16 years flying all over the world to realise she didn’t belong in the sky. These days she can be found making little girls fairy birthday party dreams come true and writing.
Have you had any interesting experiences with fellow passengers on a plane?