- Flying can be a stressful, frustrating, and even scary experience for some.
- We asked flight attendants to share the questions you should ask them to ensure the smoothest, most enjoyable flight possible.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Getting on a plane is a source of anxiety for millions of people.
But even if flying doesn’t scare you, it may raise your blood pressure for another reason: It’s stressful.
Thankfully, we have flight attendants to keep us safe, answer our questions, and make our flights as enjoyable as possible.
We asked real flight attendants for their best tips to make your airline experience more pleasant. They said you should ask them the following helpful questions when you board your aircraft to ensure a smoother, more enjoyable flight.
These are the questions you should be asking flight attendants as soon as you board.
Can you help me store this?
With overhead bins in high demand, it’s not uncommon for airlines to run out of main cabin storage space. If this happens, ask a flight attendant to help you stow special items like your suit jacket or photography gear.
“On most airlines the closets are in the forward cabin, so it helps to ask right when you’re boarding if you want to use them,” Taylor Strickland, a flight attendant with Alerion Aviation, told Business Insider. “If it’s not the middle of winter when every passenger has a heavy coat, they should be able to help you out.”
Strickland said closet space is typically reserved for first-class passengers, so asking politely goes a long way.
Will we have turbulence?
Though there’s something called clear air turbulence that can pop up unexpectedly, the flight crew generally has an idea of how bumpy the ride will be ahead of time.
If you’re someone who tends to get motion sickness, that’s something you’ll want to tell your flight attendant.
“We can give you a motion sickness bag, ginger ale, and make sure to keep an eye on you,” Strickland said. “The last thing we want is for someone to get physically ill.”
Can I have a cup of hot water?
Use it to fill a hot water bottle, which can alleviate back pain or warm you up in a freezing cabin. Strickland said another trick is to dab a napkin in hot water and place it over your ear, which helps relieve sinus pressure.
Can I change my seat?
The gate agent is always your best bet for securing a confirmed seat change, but if you didn’t make it to the counter before your flight, the flight attendant can help you arrange a switch.
“If there are open seats, passengers can ask for a seat change to allow them more room to comfortably spread out,” said Stephen Robinson, a flight attendant with CommutAir.
If you’re an anxious flier, Robinson recommends asking for an aisle seat.
“An aisle seat gives you free range to get up if you are feeling nervous,” Robinson told Business Insider. Then you don’t have the anxiety of having to climb over someone or manoeuvre to get up.”
Snagging a seat near the front of the aircraft or near the wing can also make nervous fliers feel more stable, Robinson said.
Do you have ear plugs?
Robinson recommends them for passengers who experience ear and sinus discomfort when flying.
“They help keep the pressure from building too quickly,” he said.
Can you help me make my connection?
Contrary to popular belief, the crew can’t call ahead and hold your next flight for you. But there are things they can do to help you avoid missing it. Flight attendants have the scoop on the location of your connecting gate and the fastest way to get there.
“Newark is my home base, so I know that if we arrive in Terminal A, they will be departing from Terminal C,” Robinson said. “I can give them the best route to get to one terminal from the other without having to go in and out of the security area again.”
Let the cabin crew know if you have special circumstances, like needing to make it to a major event. Paul Bowles, a flight attendant with a US legacy airline, flies to and from Paris several times a month. His crew helped a couple with a tight connection avoid missing their own wedding.
“We moved them to the very front of the aircraft and coordinated with the team on the ground to make sure they were first off and escorted through the airport,” he said.
When looking at your boarding pass for your next flight, don’t confuse the boarding time with the actual takeoff time. Bowles told us you have a window of about 15 to 20 minutes after the listed boarding time to get to your next gate and still make it on the plane.
Are drinks free?
Bowles said many passengers don’t realise their route includes complimentary alcoholic beverages or other freebies. Delta, for example, offers on-the-house beer, wine, and spirits (and headphones, too) to all seat classes on long-haul international flights.
Do you fly this route often — and can you recommend anything at our destination?
A flight attendant’s primary concern is your safety in the air, but they’re also a wealth of knowledge about hotspots on the ground. Bowles loves tipping off passengers to the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or suggesting where to take an important client for lunch.
“Tell your flight attendant one or two of your interests and they can easily suggest the best things to do in 24 hours,” he said. “If I don’t fly the route often, chances are I can grab another flight attendant who does.”
Can you help make this right?
As the main point of contact between the passenger and the airline, flight attendants bear the brunt of dealing with issues from bad weather to lost bags. If your trip goes awry, tap into their expertise to help get your travel plans back on track.
“No matter whose fault the problem was, the flight attendant is the one you see,” Strickland said. “We’ll try our best to help you deal with the situation.”
On some airlines, flight attendants have the power to compensate you for your troubles via frequent flier miles. The same goes for in-flight issues, like if your TV monitor is broken or your seat doesn’t recline.
Your flight attendant may also be able to ease the pain of travel interruptions with free perks.
“I can sometimes offer a free drink or free earbuds if there was a delay,” Bowles said.
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