By Heather Poole, Want to know what really happens at 35,000 feet in the air? Ask Heather Poole.
A flight attendant for more than 15 years, Poole has seen it all. She takes you into the galley and cockpit in a new book, “Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet.” Poole also shares tips and tricks of the trade that every passenger wants to know.
The author and industry insider gives “GMA” her take on the 10 things you’ll never hear your flight attendant say. (Spoiler: Steer clear of that airplane blanket!)
Heather Poole’s 10 Things You’ll Never Hear Your Flight Attendant Say
1. You can keep using your cell phone. The reason we’ll never tell you this is because you can’t. Oh, I know you think you can. Regardless of what Myth Busters “proved” or what the New York Times printed last week, turning your cell phone off is the law. We can actually be fined (personally) by the FAA for not enforcing the rule. So unless you want to pay that fine for me, and then employ me, turn it off!
2. You get fewer options if you’re at the back of the plane. This shouldn’t be true — you’ve paid for the same ticket as everyone else — but it’s simple math. If we only have 55 Diet Cokes for 160 coach passengers, and we’ve used them all up by the time we get to your row, there’s nowhere to restock at 35,000 feet. But look on the bright side: You were one of the first passengers to board the flight, so you probably found an open bin for your carry-on, which is not always the case for those sitting in the first row drinking their beverage of choice.
3. Sure, we can change the cabin temperature. Some people run hot, some run cold — it’s impossible to make everyone happy. There’s no way we’re going call the pilots every five minutes to warm up the cabin and then cool it down. If you complain about the temperature, we might tell you we’ll have the captain adjust it. But unless the entire plane complains, or the crew is uncomfortable, it probably ain’t happening.
4. Stay warm with an airplane blanket. Now, I’m not saying anything specific here, but if I were you, I’d wrap up in a sweater or coat. That’s what a flight attendant would do. And I definitely wouldn’t put one of those blankets anywhere near my face. The pillows? Well, I haven’t seen one of those in years, but I do remember people used them for the darndest things. (Note: Flight attendants alone probably keep Purell in business.)
5. You want the chicken entree, no garlic? No problem. Planes are not restaurants. As much as people like to think so, we’re not waiters. Keep in mind we have one oven to heat up more than 30 meals in business class. You don’t have be from CSI to realize you’re basically eating a TV dinner that’s been prepared in a toaster oven.
6. It’s against the law to join the mile-high club. Because it’s not! That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s against the law to disobey crew commands, so if we ask you to stop, by all means stop! And come out with your pants up. Then everything will be A-OK, and you won’t have to tell your cellmate what you’re in for.
7. Our ages. Gone are the days when you could pinch us and get away with it, but a few well-kept secrets are still every woman’s (and man’s) prerogative.
8. My layover hotel is XYZ. Maybe I’ve seen too many slasher movies, but the last thing I want is that passenger who complained about slow beverage service knowing where I’m sleeping.
9. How the movie ends. Because during the 17 times it’s shown on our flights, we have been otherwise occupied. Same goes for the question “where are we?” Usually we have no idea. Unless we call the captain, all we know is where we are in the beverage service (which, we hope, isn’t too slow, see above).
10. I hate my job. We do our best to keep passengers from realizing how tiring our job can be, especially if we’ve encountered delays. Just bear in mind I’ve said “hello,” “goodbye” and “what you would like to drink?” about 600 times over the course of three days, and the only time I stopped smiling was when a passenger threw up on my dress on day one of a three-day trip, and when I ran out of shampoo on day two. There’s a reason we continue to do what might sound torturous to some. We love it!
Actually, a good number of times the F/As did answer question 8, but maybe that is because I’m a nice and polite passenger. 😉
Co-Founder and CEO of Aviation Gazette