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oct 23

A flight attendant sounds off about "rude" passengers

Many—if not most—of the insights on this blog come from its readers, who post terrific comments. For example, see our readers' tips on "Cheap tips for traveling now" and "How to brew better hotel coffee in your hotel room."

I'd like to give a special shout out to Toni Vitanza, a flight attendant in Texas with more than 10 years for a major airline, as well as a wife, mom, teacher, and former reporter.

For years, Toni has had to put up with some outrageous behavior from passengers. Here's a re-print of a comment she posted a while ago on a blog elsewhere that may be of interest to you, too.

(The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Budget Travel. Feel feel to share your own responses by posting a comment of your own.) Toni's (excerpted) opinions start here:

How do flight attendants do it? That was the question posed by a passenger participant in USAToday's forum on the Today In The Skies page. Well, I saw the question seconds after it was posted and I HAD to answer. Things that drive me bonkers:

1. Woman walking dirty, yappy little dog in airport—and the dog was wearing a diaper. No carrier in sight. Must be for her "emotional support." Another dog set on tray, allowed to roam cabin despite repeated entreaties to put it in the carrier. Nearly ran over dog with bev cart. Have hardly had a pet carrier on board that is not opened and doesn't become trouble. Pet owners REFUSE to obey the rules, meanwhile telling me how well-trained their "baby" is. Want to compare their pet to human babies.

2. A 400-pound (no kidding) woman who paraded through the plane loudly proclaiming to everyone aboard the 757: "I dint buy no TWO seats!" Person of similar size prevents lav use or bev service because NOTHING can fit down aisle around him. NOTHING. Endangers everyone in potential evac. Similar size man wants exit row seat, where he will completely block evac. I say no. They get mad.

3. Graffiti. Carved. Into a tray table. In first class.

4. A woman sitting next to me (when I was traveling myself, out of uniform, in coach) who was smacking her gum so loudly I could hear it through my IPod earbuds, with music ON, for a 4-hour flight. And this from a woman who has suffered real hearing loss working around jet engines!

7. Passengers in first, business, and coach bulkhead seats—often nicely dressed and otherwise well-behaved—who put their feet on the bulkhead. I have actually had a pilot come on my plane, see pax [passengers] doing this and chewed them out for it. (Turned out the plane had just come from a deep-cleaning, and he'd had his fill with passenger behavior in general.) I've had pax tell me this is WHY they want the bulkhead. Would I put my feet on the walls in your office? I've had pax pull down my jumpseat and use it as a footstool. I've also had a pax with his feet on the bulkhead smash his own nose with his own knee during an aborted take-off. Next flight cancelled due to blood contamination all over seats. Man with bloody nose gets mad.

10. Body parts exposed that I don't want to see, even on ATTRACTIVE people. Body hair exposed. Tank tops, flip-flops, "doo-rags," biker bandanas, basketball uniforms. (I've seen all this on an international flight to Europe.) If they don't wear clothes, WHAT'S IN ALL THOSE CARRYONS?

14. Used diapers stuffed in seatback pocket. Baby changed on seat or on tray. Diaper handed to flight attendant pushing cart. She doesn't take it. Mom gets mad.

15. Pax [Passengers] taking pet out of carrier, encouraging it to pee and poop on the floor of the plane. Arguing with flight attendant about why they can't do this, or why they can't sit in exit or bulkhead w pet carrier. Also arguing about why they can't take it out of carrier. Taking it out anyway. Dog gets diarrhea and airsickness. Pax wants me to clean up. Same pax wonder why plane is delayed or canceled due to tick infestation or need for cleaning. Demand compensation. Wonder why they have to pay an extra fee extra for a pet. Get outraged. Equates dog to human babies.

16. Pax puts (oversized) bag into first bin in first class, then proceeds to his seat on last row. Never mind the fairness/etiquette issue…this is a security issue. Gets mad when it's returned to him. Gets madder when it's too close to departure time to go find him and bag has to sent to cargo.

17. Pax show up late to the gate, realize their seats are or were about to be given away, yell at the agent that they were held up in security. Do this with a steaming-hot, smelly bag of McDonald's in their hand. Accused the airline of lying to them. Get irate.

23. Seen on every single plane I'm on: Pax put bag(s) under the seat in front of them, just as instructed, then wrap strap around their feet. Just about the craziest/goofiest/stupidest/most dangerous thing I see people routinely do on a plane. Not between me and the aisle or the door, you don't! I've seen moms do this to the kids, as if the kids are the anchor for the bags. I've seen one mom braid the strap of her purse in an intricate knot around the seatbelt of her mentally retarded adult son. It took her five full minutes to undo it when I told her she couldn't do that. She argued with me the whole time. In an evac, he and his mom would have been toast. Saying this in the nicest, least alarming way possible made her mad. "We're not planning an emergency, are we?" Well, in fact, we are. By the time it was undone, my point was made.

…and the list goes on…

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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