I'm A Former Flight Attendant & There Are 8 Things I'd Never Do On A Plane

Don’t hand a flight attendant dirty diapers.

Madeline standing by the Eiffel Tower. Right: Flight attendant walking down aisle of an airplane.
Associate Editor

Madeline standing by the Eiffel Tower. Right: Flight attendant walking down aisle of an airplane.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

After graduating from university, I decided it was time for an adventure, so I "got my wings" and became a flight attendant. For over a year, my job with an international airline took me to places in Europe, North America, and beyond, and every day was a new experience.

Of course, it wasn't all just fun and exploring. Being on the plane was a lot of work, and I learned some valuable "do's and don't's" when flying.

Here are eight things I would never do on a plane based on my experience as a flight attendant.

Ask the flight attendant to lift my bag

Flight attendants don't have super strength, and it isn't their job to stow your luggage. If your bag is too heavy for you to lift yourself, you shouldn't bring it on the plane, because it will likely be too heavy for the flight attendant too.

The last thing anyone wants is to get hurt, so in order to keep you and the crew safe, pack light and be sure you can stow your bag on your own. Of course, the crew is there to help in certain circumstances, like when an injury is preventing you from lifting your luggage, but otherwise, you should take care of your bags yourself.

Sit with my limbs in the aisle

I get it... flights are long and there isn't much legroom. It can be tempting to rest your leg or arm in the aisle, but this could be incredibly dangerous and painful.

Not only can crew members and other passengers trip over you, but it's also hard for the flight attendants to see over the food and drink carts, so you could risk getting hit by one of these heavy trollies. If you need to stretch, it's best to get up between services and take a quick walk around the plane.

Ask for food or drinks before takeoff

The lead-up to takeoff is an extremely busy time for flight attendants. From boarding to safety instructions and checks, the crew doesn't have a lot of time for requests like food.

Plus, hot drinks and food should not be handed out prior to takeoff, as this could lead to spills and burns. It's best to try and wait until the plane is in the air and the seatbelt sign is off before asking for a snack or drink, unless it's urgent.

Leave my seatbelt off during the flight

Even when the seatbelt sign is off, it's a good idea to keep yours on throughout the flight. You never know when turbulence could hit, and it's best to stay on the safe side and remain strapped in.

It's an especially good idea to keep your seatbelt on if you plan on sleeping. This way, the crew won't have to wake you up and tell you to buckle up if the sign does go on during your rest.

Stand up before the plane is parked

Despite multiple announcements about staying seated until the plane is completely parked, there are always passengers that will stand up and start reaching for luggage while the aircraft is still taxiing.

First of all, this is dangerous for you and the passengers around you. Should the plane make a sudden turn or stop, you could fall and possibly land on others as well. Plus, if you have the baggage compartment open, it could cause bags to topple onto those sitting below. There's no need to stand up and race to get off, as you'll still have to wait for the door to open, and it really won't save you much time.

Hang out in the galley

A galley is a busy place on an airplane. It's where all the food prep takes place and where most items are stored. While it may be tempting to stand up and chat with friends, you could get in the way of crew members.

It's okay to stand up and stretch, especially during long flights, but if you're loitering in the galley area for long periods of time, it will make things difficult for the flight attendants.

Take your shoes off

Anyone who's been on a plane has likely dealt with the terrible smell of someone's feet. While it's tempting to free your feet on board, it's just not nice to the crew and others around you.

Trust me, no one wants to be smelling your feet for the entire trip.

Hand my garbage to a flight attendant

From napkins to tissues to empty snack bags, there are all sorts of garbage that can accumulate during a flight. The crew will come around to collect trash at least once per flight, depending on how long it is.

This is the ideal opportunity to get rid of your garbage, as the flight attendants will have equipment like gloves and plastic bags for a sanitary collection. You can keep your trash in one of the paper bags in the seat pocket if it makes things easier.

Avoid handing your garbage to flight attendants between garbage services, though. No one wants to touch other people's dirty napkins or tissues (I've been handed a used diaper before), and they likely won't be wearing gloves at the time. If you can't wait for the garbage pickup, you could always politely ask a crew member for the best place to throw away your garbage. It's a nicer gesture than handing it directly to them and expecting them to deal with it.

Madeline Forsyth
Associate Editor
Madeline Forsyth is an Associate Travel Editor for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Toronto, Ontario.