By Katia Hetter, CNN
(CNN) — Longtime fliers know that look: It’s coming from the flight attendant who has already labeled you a Difficult Passenger.
Maybe you’re taking up too much space in the overhead bins or want to visit the bathroom while people are still boarding. Or you won’t shut off your cell phone the first time he or she asks. Or maybe you’re not doing anything at all.
As 109 high school seniors and chaperones learned Monday morning, flight attendants have the power to remove passengers from a flight if they’re not following directions — or if they think you’re not.
Many commenters on CNN.com’s Facebook page blamed the students. “The flight crew should not have to tell you to turn your phone off and sit down,” wrote one commenter. “I support the crew and making a safe flight for the rest of the passengers.” Wrote another: “Sounds like a lot of bratty kids would not do as asked. You need to do as instructed the first time. End of story.”
Boarding is not the time to stand out on an airplane.
What’s a flier to do? CNN.com asked some consumer air travel experts for their advice for avoiding any conflict with the flight attendants who are (mostly) trying to get you to your destination. Before trouble starts, here are their suggestions for making your journey smoother.
Show some kindness. Try starting your boarding process by saying “Good morning” or “Hello” as you would your co-worker or your child’s teacher — and you might stand out as a courteous traveler. Flight attendants deal with every personality under the sun, and not everyone is polite to them. They are human beings who could save your life in a dangerous situation.
Aviation blogger Johnny “Jet” DiScala always greets his flight attendants when boarding and sometimes even gives them a box of chocolates. “Right away, they say ‘Thank you so much,’ ” he said. “Most of them are very appreciative because no one is nice to these guys.”
Follow directions. “It’s easy,” says consumer blogger Chris Elliott. “You keep your head down and do exactly what the flight attendants say without questioning them.”
That means putting your carry-on bags away, sitting down, buckling up and turning off your electronic devices, maybe even before anyone says so. If they don’t have to worry about you, they will pay attention to others.
Boarding is not the time to argue your hypothesis about cell phone interference with an airplane’s navigation equipment. Wait till your WiFi-enabled plane reaches 10,000 feet to write e-mails to the Federal Aviation Administration or the Federal Communications Commission, which make the rules about electronics on flights.
Don’t smell. There are other ways to get kicked off a plane. You might not be able to control your children. You might not be able to handle your own luggage. Your food might be stinking up the aircraft. You — yes, you — might smell.
“Shower before you board, try not to have any special needs, like luggage that needs to be lifted into the overhead compartments, and don’t fly with a screaming baby or fidgety toddler. All of those things can be grounds for getting removed from a flight before takeoff,” says Elliott. “But mostly, don’t give your flight attendants any lip.”
Educate your children in advance. Whether your child is 5 or 15, parents need to prepare them for the rules they have to follow while at an airport or on an airplane. It’s good for younger children to practice clearing security, buckling their seat belts, turning off their electronics and tucking their things under the seat in front of them. If they do it as soon as they board the aircraft, no flight attendant will see them as potential rule violators.
How do you stay out of trouble and ensure a good ride on an airplane? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.