In-Flight Insider: 40 Unexpected Stories Straight From Flight Attendants

By Aakash M

This article was originally published on travelerdoor

Flight attendants are the real human gurus of our skies. They have basically circled the globe, met a gazillion different personalities, and navigated through some seriously wild situations. Think about it — they’ve seen it all!

So, when a flight attendant politely asks you to pop your seat back to its original position, maybe just roll with it. Trust us, there’s a method to their madness, even if it’s not immediately obvious to you.

We went on a deep dive into the internet and unearthed a treasure trove of secrets straight from the flight attendant playbook. Ever wondered why certain rules on flights seem a bit peculiar? Well, these secrets might just spill the beans and answer those burning questions you’ve been harboring. Buckle up, because the revelations are about to take off!

Cover up

This one is a true story, though it was shared by a passenger, not a flight attendant. So, one time, this person overheard a call at the gate check-in. It was about a flight attendant being hungover and unable to arrive on time.

_patricia_ione / instagram

A minute after that, there was an announcement about the same flight being delayed due to some pre-flight maintenance stuff. How good is that for a cover-up? Everyone must have thought the passenger was making stuff up if they hadn’t heard the same call.


This one is a bit creepy, but it is also very hilarious. Flight attendants have a list of all of the passengers on board their flight. The list includes their full name and seat number. It makes sense, right? It’s a useful safety measure.

________juls / instagram

That wasn’t the secret, but since they have your information, they often Google the passengers when they’re bored. Yep. That’s the secret. It’s not like they’re all creepers, but sometimes, just sometimes, they’ll stalk you on the Internet when they don’t have anything else to do.

Another honest truth

A very sad thing about flight attendants is that they aren’t paid properly. Here’s another fact not everyone knows about: whenever a flight is delayed, flight attendants are as annoyed as we are, if not more. They are only paid for the flight time.

Jeaniecc / instagram

This means if a plane is delayed, they have to sit and wait at the airport or greet the customers, for which they won’t be paid as well. Working 3-4 hours is very tough when you’ll only be paid for the 55 minutes the plane is in the air.

Creepy much?

Did you know that flight attendants normally keep the passengers who died on board in their seats until they land? If a passenger dies during the flight, they’d be wrapped in blankets to make them look as if they were sleeping.

Sergioz82 / instagram

All of it is done so that other passengers don’t realize anything. If they do, most of them would probably freak out. It’s a good step since we can’t think of any other logical option, but it still sounds a bit creepy.

Just the worst

This is the account of a former flight attendant who used to work for an unnamed Latin American airline. She said that she was often harassed by the pilots and co-pilots, and overall, it was a pretty toxic work environment.

Boseaviation / instagram

Many times, they’d also abuse their power by making indecent proposals to the hostesses. In one scenario, a pilot — who was more than 40 years old — used to text her during her holidays. She was just 19. Unfortunately, many hostesses have been through worse.

Roger that

According to an anonymous flight attendant, they often change their emergency code. They do this every few months, and their emergency code could be any word. For example, it could be “marvelous,” “stupendous,” “fantabulous,” you name it. If it’s in the dictionary, it’s a potential code word.

Michalvoska / instagram

Once the emergency word is used by a crew member over the PA to the pilot, the next thing that the pilot will do is simple. The pilot will lock the cockpit, and they won’t open the door again, irrespective of what happens.

Always be nice

This one is a secret, although it shouldn’t be one. The logic here is pretty simple. If you’re nice to the people on the plane, there are high chances of you getting a lot of stuff for free while you’re on the flight. And not just from flight attendants…

Morganesardella / instagram

In one incident, there was a baby sitting behind a couple. The baby was crying all the time, and the parents were having a hard time controlling the baby. So, the couple offered to help, and they ordered something for the parents. A while later, the parents gifted them a goodie bag!

Extreme measures

In one’s life, there will be times when a person needs to resort to drastic measures to handle an unforeseen situation. And this one is an extreme measure from the point of view of a flight attendant. From a passenger’s perspective, it’s just unimaginable!

(Reuters) / nytimes

So, here’s the thing. A flight attendant won’t hesitate to tape a passenger to their seat if the situation requires an unruly passenger to stay seated. You wouldn’t see something of that sort happening often, but just know, they won’t hold back!

They always know

Never try to be over-smart or act too clever on a flight with a flight attendant. It won’t work, and there’s nothing you can say to them that they do not already know. Being nice to them is the best thing you can do.

Flylot / instagram

Flight attendants know what you’ll be telling them when you call them. They know all the complaints, requests, jokes, and other things that you could possibly say to them. If it’s their 4th flight of the day, they’ve probably heard it eight times already.

Wish we didn’t know this

We’ve had our fair share of surprising secrets, so we think it’s only fair to know about the gross ones as well. This one has been shared by a flight attendant. Flight attendants often fart while walking down the aisle when they feel bloated.

Theclassycloud / instagram

We feel weird even while typing this out. So, for all the frequent flyers, there’s a very high chance that a flight attendant has farted right by your head while they were walking down the aisle. Just putting it out there.

The other side

Flying seems all fancy and glamorous, but sometimes, it’s nowhere near that. We are not saying that things like these happen everywhere, but they do happen. Once, a person was cornered and spit on by another passenger on a flight.

Ksu1905 / instagram

Sadly, the company didn’t do anything about it, and even the police didn’t do anything. Apart from that, we have talked about the harassment that flight attendants face, and many times, pilots have also tried to get sexual favors in flight, which is an abuse of their position of power.

Busy bees

Before we tell you this secret, let us assure you that you are safe. Pilots know what they are doing, and they are experts. Being a pilot is not easy as it requires years of training. So you can fly easy knowing that you’re in good hands.

Dulehedi / instagram

If you think things are always intense in the cockpit, that’s not the case. Sure, they must be focused while landing and taking off, but other times, they, just like us sitting in economy, are also on their phones or reading newspapers!


Automation has benefitted pilots in more ways than one. It can increase the safety of the flight, but more importantly, it’s what allows pilots to play on their phones or read a book mid-flight. They can take pictures of passengers, watch movies, etc. 

Crazy_c69 / instagram

They also discuss among themselves if there’s an attractive passenger. Oh, and if you ever see coffee filter bags hanging anywhere, they have been placed because someone in the vicinity smells really bad. It’s understandable because sometimes, there are passengers on board with unbearable body odor.

Not a clue

There are two little stories here from an ex-flight attendant. One time, the landing gear got stuck, so the pilot decided to fly the plane in circles for a really long time while deliberating if they had to crash land or not. Luckily, the gear came down, and they landed safely.

Yvonne.teo1 / instagram

None of the passengers knew that anything had gone wrong. It’s scary to think that these things happen, but there are plenty of measures in place to make sure that everyone gets to their destination safely. This is just one more reason to be nice to your flight attendants.

Not a clue part 2

In another story, the flight attendant once spilled some coffee creamer on a bald guy’s head. Luckily, the guy was sleeping. Everybody agreed not to say anything. The flight attendant did feel guilty about it, but they said that it was a really funny sight.

Marksherman09 / instagram

It’s important to remember that flight attendants are humans. They may seem perfect and poised, but they are allowed to make mistakes. Spilling something isn’t a life or death situation, unlike some of their other duties. Cut them some slack for minor accidents like this one.

Good flight tips

Here is a very important tip for you, courtesy of a flight attendant, if you want to have a good time on your flight. This tip just involves you and a box of chocolates. Or, rather, it involves the flight attendants receiving a box of chocolates.

Curiousburrow / instagram

If you do so, you might get all the free snacks and alcohol (in some cases) that they can possibly give you! Isn’t that really convenient? You’re getting all that for a box of chocolates. It’s better than paying for everything mid-flight.


Once, a flight attendant was having trouble speaking on the intercom. The other employees were highly concerned about what was happening. They thought that the flight attendant was having a stroke! So, another flight attendant went in and made another announcement.

Sammysuebear / instagram

The other announcement was that there was a delay in the flight, and they were all waiting for a different flight attendant to step in. Later on, the employees learned that the flight attendant with the slurred speech was just drunk. They couldn’t even walk straight on the plane.

Flying hazards

Here’s a tip. You should never fly if you have an ear infection or even if you have fluid in your ears. It’s really dangerous because there are chances of your eardrums being ruptured during the flight. Delaying your trip might stink, but ending up in the ER is much worse.

Camibrasilpiercer / instagram

Flight crew members are all the more prone to these things because they are always going through constant pressurization and depressurization during their work — obviously. So, we hope those guys are taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy as well!

Movie buffs

Flight attendants are just normal people like us. The only difference is that the nature of their job is a bit different than the average person who works a 9-5 at an office. They don’t spend their time in one place and are often not even on the ground!


There are many positives, as well as some downsides, to the job. And you’re familiar with just a few of them by now. But, here’s a funny little fact that might sound like a joke to you. These guys quote the movie Airplane! a lot!

Quick check

Flight attendants always greet you politely, don’t they? Well, it’s somewhat a part of their job, but their main intentions are different when they’re welcoming you. Firstly, when they greet you, they check you out to see if you’re drunk.

shayybayy / Instagram

Next, they’re also checking you out to see if you’re a strong/well-built person. The reason behind it is that they could call you if an emergency arrives. For instance, if they need to pull the emergency door or lift something.

It couldn’t get worse

We have already told you about their low pay, their long work schedules, and the workplace harassment issues. So, many would be thinking that it couldn’t get worse, but tell you what, it sadly does. Many flight attendants don’t have a home.

Nachoartigas / instagram

They mostly live out of their suitcases and crew break rooms. Also, according to an ex-pilot, the pay of new flight attendants is really very low. Since they’re on the road so much, many don’t have, nor can they afford, a permanent home.

Hygiene issues

This one is an account of a person who was a supervisor of a US carrier. They once had an employee whose kid had a science project about germs. The lady brought the child in an aircraft during the night, and they took samples from every place on the plane. / instagram

Here’s what they found out. The area with the highest amount of fecal matter was (insert drum roll here) the tray tables. We’re not kidding. Many times, workers who clean the lavatories head to the galley and other places for cleaning without changing their gloves. We’ve warned you.

Being kind is free

It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind to flight attendants. But, it will cost you if you’re not kind to them. Here’s another secret. If you’re rude to flight attendants, they’ll make the security meet you at the ground.

David_ink / instagram

Also, they don’t mind giving you a bag of crumbs or crunching up your snack mixes or cookies if you’re rude to them. Many times, they also hide in the galleys just so that they can avoid all the ridiculous questions that passengers ask them.

Good and bad

Let’s get the bad thing out of the way. Flights mostly have to discard all the uneaten food. That’s because it’s international waste, and it needs to be taken care of. In short, flights generate a lot of wasted food.

Gaiakesa / instagram

On the other hand, if a private plane is delayed, the food on that plane can’t be thrown out. It always has to go somewhere. So, the flight attendants are the ones who get the opportunity to eat all the amazing food! Good thing, too, because they deserve it.

Flight rules

Nobody is declared dead while they’re on a commercial flight. The officials and the crew will perform CPR until the body has been taken out of the plane. The coroner’s office can impound the airplane till they’re done with the investigation.

Ifone4planespotter / instagram

Furthermore, people who died on a plane are transported as cargo, and they’re referred to as human remains. So, if you ever see a tall rectangular box being loaded into a cargo bin with care, it’s probably exactly what you think it is — a coffin.

A little help there

By now, we know how stringent a flight attendant’s work schedule is. Here’s another fact about it. Before they can take 12 hours of rest, they need to work for a certain amount of hours. If they don’t, they’d have to work more, irrespective of their energy level.

Een_is_me / instagram

So, many times, pilots keep the plane on for a few more minutes just so that the flight attendants can use up their hours, allowing them to finally get a day or so off. It’s good because, this way, they don’t have to work extra just to clock in a few extra minutes!

Not fair

This one is an account of a person who works for Emirates. Whenever these guys used to fly into Saudi Arabia, they always made the flight attendants lock the whole galley. They kept food items, napkins, cutlery, and similar essentials in the galley.

Meqeeva / instagram

They used to take this step because, in the past, Saudi Arabian authorities would waltz in, take what they wanted, and head out. And there was nothing the flight attendants could possibly do. So, they resorted to this safety precaution.

Dirty secret

As the title suggests, this time, we’ll be letting you in on a dirty secret about the airline industry. This one is honestly gross, and we feel like not traveling in planes after learning about this one. So, brace yourselves…

Prathankarnpap / Shutterstock

So, a flight attendant once said that the only dirty thing about their job is the airplane itself. According to them, they never wash the floors or the seats on the airplane. It’s disgusting, and if it is true everywhere, we are speechless.

No movie for you

It seems hard to believe these things, but it is actually true. If you are ever rude to a flight attendant, they know very well how to get back to you. Any passenger would be highly annoyed if something like this were to happen to them.

Sorbis / Shutterstock

Flight attendants can control your inflight TV screens. Well, at least they can turn them on or off. If a passenger is rude to a flight attendant, many times, they’d go to their computer and start resetting the offending passenger’s TV screen.

Dirtier secret

The one above was a dirty secret. This one is a secret that’s comparatively dirtier, so, ladies and gents, brace yourselves once again. We have no intention of making you guys stop air travel, but these little things are just gross.

w:User:AcidBomber / wiki commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

An ex-engineer said that if an aircraft galley was ever inspected as seriously as a restaurant, it would be shut down immediately. There are many hygiene problems. The water tanks are dirty, the cleaning crew uses just one rag for cleaning the ceiling and the floor, and the list goes on.

Luggage hack

Here is an account of a person who was traveling globally for the Canadian and British military. Whenever this guy stopped at a major airport in Canada, he’d grab a lot of those Air Canada luggage tags. There’s a reason.

The.connaiseuse / instagram

Many of his American counterparts would also ask for those while flying commercial, and especially when they’re going to the Middle East or Africa. It’s because American luggage was usually the target for thievery and abuse, but nobody touched the Canadian bags!

Lots of knowledge

After coming across this little bit of info, we somehow feel a bit safer, yet also scared at the same time. Apparently, there’s a 600-page book in every cockpit. Do you know what’s in that book? For starters, a lot of knowledge of “what-if” situations.

Fffunctionstudio / instagram

That book literally contains every single thing that could possibly go wrong on a flight. There’s everything from a bulb going out to a bomb threat to an engine malfunction or even a bio-hazard warning. Honestly, that book is very much needed.

Not all flowers and roses

Being a flight attendant seems like an exciting job, but at times, it does get very dull. This is an account of an ex-flight attendant who said that they have seen a lot of crazy stuff happening during his time.

Shuzuiyukinobu / instagram

Depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse are common over there, and living your life as a flight attendant is really difficult. At first, it must be amazing to visit all the new destinations, but after a point, each exotic location just becomes another workstation.

International love

As we’ve said before, many flight attendants don’t have a permanent home. And, even those that do, don’t necessarily have accommodations everywhere they land. So, it’s unsurprising to learn that some hotels often house airline staff. They sleep, eat, and even use the internet there.

Flyyayaair / instagram

One traveler shared their story about a stay in one such hotel. They discovered that one of the business lounge computers had been previously used by a flight attendant. Unfortunately, she forgot to log off and the guest learned that she had boyfriends all over the globe!


This secret is a funny one. An ex-pilot who has been in the industry for more than three decades gave out this little piece of information that’s about two decades old. You’ll have a good laugh after you hear this one!

The_lavrik / instagram

So, back in the day, Russian pilots were under constant watch by their employers, and many times, drastic measures would be taken against them, such as locking them up in a room. All of it was done because, sometimes, they’d get sloshed right before flying.


Airplanes are really very capable, unlike what we see in movies. We usually see planes waltzing down to the ground as soon as the slightest inconvenience occurs. In reality, that’s not the case. You’d be surprised to know what a plane can handle.

Love4649jack / instagram

If we were to tell it to you in short, here’s how it would go. There’s a huge amount of things that could be broken or inoperative on a minimum equipment list. An airplane can still fly, irrespective of all the minor mishaps that occur.

Change is needed

Here’s another gross secret for you. An ex-flight attendant shared an account of one of their flights. They had a boiler in the back galley for boiling water. They also used it for serving hot drinks like tea, coffee, or hot chocolate to their passengers.

Jonathan adato / photographer

The tanks in which this water is stored are rarely ever cleaned, so as a passenger, it’s best to avoid these things as much as possible. The worst part is that the water intake for refilling that tank is just a few centimeters away from the waste disposal valve. Gross.

Toilet secret

In airplanes, toilets are near the seating area of passengers. So, believe it or not, irrespective of how hard you’re trying to cover the fact that you’re doing your business in there, you can’t. It is embarrassing for some, but you can’t help it.

Justjukka / instagram

So, never fall for it when you read about getting a free upgrade or something like that because we just told you the truth. Anything of that sort is just not true. It’s best not to worry because we’re all human!

What about this?

This one isn’t a secret. It’s more of a common sense thing. Many people, including us, think that these guys shouldn’t just be called flight attendants. They are always taking care of petty incidents involving passengers instead of their other responsibilities.

Comissariosdevoobrasil / instagram

It is something they have to deal with, and of course, it’s really annoying. So, we, for one, think that the name should be changed from flight attendants to cabin safety officers! If that name change were successful, they’d have to deal with a lot less.

No Adblock

It’s really weird how airlines make their passengers listen to those three-minute infomercials on their credit card program. It’s as if their primary job is a credit card salesman, and their secondary job is their actual one. That’s really annoying.

Captain_rolahoteit / instagram

Many short flights are full of commercials of their credit card ads. We don’t see the point in supporting an airline by buying their credit cards. Listening to those commercials is all the more annoying for frequent flyers. It’s as bad as being forced to watch an ad before your YouTube video.