8 Things People Expect Flight Attendants To Do That Aren’t Their Jobs

No, it's not in their job description to put your bag in the overhead bin.
BraunS via Getty Images

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass posted a photo that went viral on Twitter. In it, his two daughters were sitting on a plane, engrossed in their devices, and the floor around them was covered with popcorn. He said a flight attendant asked his wife, who was 22 weeks pregnant, to pick up the popcorn. “Are you kidding me?!?!” he wrote.

Bass was furious, but Twitter wasn’t sure he was entitled to be. One Twitter user responded, “Won’t lie, the fact that the flight attendant had the guts to make the passenger clean up their own MESS kinda makes me wanna fly United more,” and another wrote, “‘My wife had to be a parent!’ That’s you right now.”

While the jury is still out in terms of who’s in the right here (people have a lot of opinions), we decided to ask flight attendants about things passengers expect them to do that aren’t their jobs. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Put your bags in the overhead bin.

“Expecting your flight attendants to lift your luggage and put it in the overhead bin is one of the biggest misconceptions of the role of flight attendants. Asking us to do it is a quick way to present yourself as an entitled pain on the plane and start your flight out on the wrong side of the crew. Not only is lifting passenger luggage not our responsibility, but we are also instructed by the airlines not to do it, and if we are injured as a result of lifting luggage, we will not be protected by the company’s medical leave and injury pay protection. I have watched passengers leave their bags in the aisle and tell the flight attendants to deal with it.” — Jay Robert, a flight attendant and founder of A Fly Guy Travels

2. Fix flight delays.

“People think that all the crew has the ‘keys’ to the airplane. One time our flight got so delayed due to the airplane not arriving — apparently it got stuck in another city [due to] weather issues — that the crew and I decided to go get pizza and all the passengers were looking at us with daggers in the eyes. Like it was our choice, and we delayed it.” — Paola Quiroz, a flight attendant with Air France

3. Have an unlimited supply of the food you want.

Sorry, but flight attendants really don’t have extra chicken meals available.
urbazon via Getty Images
Sorry, but flight attendants really don’t have extra chicken meals available.

“People expect us to magically have more chicken meals when you run out of chicken toward the end of your meal service.” — Ella Curreen, a former flight attendant with Air New Zealand

“When meal options run out, a flight attendant cannot go back to the galley and cook you the meal choice you were craving. We don’t have an endless supply of food we are hoarding, and we are not catered 100% of each meal choice. It’s not possible to carry that much food. If your meal choice is not available, don’t expect the crew to make it appear literally in thin air. Just be grateful you’re getting a meal a mile high in the sky.” — Robert

4. Warm something up in the microwave for you.

It’s not that flight attendants don’t want the food you brought from home or that bottle of baby formula to be warm — there just isn’t a place to warm it up.

“[People ask us to] warm something in the microwave for them. ... We don’t have microwaves.” — Cathay Richardson, a flight attendant with United Airlines

5. Hold connecting flights.

“We are not responsible nor are we able to hold planes, and thanks to modern technology, your connecting flight is aware your inbound flight is running late. Airlines have an entire department that watches flight delays and connections, and they instruct the connecting gates to hold flights if the flight schedules allow. You do not need to ask the flight attendants over and over again to hold flights. What the crew can do is, before landing, move you to an empty seat further toward the front of the cabin you are traveling in, if any are available, so you have a better chance of making your connection.” — Robert

6. Change the weather.

Believe it or not, flight attendants don’t control the weather — or connecting flights.
1shot Production via Getty Images
Believe it or not, flight attendants don’t control the weather — or connecting flights.

[People act like] I’ve got a direct line to Mother Nature! In fact, I have her on speed dial, let me call her and tell her to stop with the thunderstorms, hail, snow, torrential downpours, tornados, etc.” — Kim Hamrick, a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines

7. Go through the trash to find something you lost.

“Someone left their dentures on the meal tray after collection and expected the crew to go through all the possible rubbish trollies and trays to find his dentures.” — Ranjana Dhyani, a flight attendant with Glorietta Air

8. Be happy 100% of the time.

“While we might be superheroes of the sky, flight attendants are not machines. Don’t take it personally if a flight attendant seems to be having a bad day or isn’t as peppy as you think they should be. The truth is, the job is very draining, and it’s not uncommon for the crew to be working for more than 15 hours on literally minutes of sleep. When I operated some of the longest flights in the world, it was not uncommon to be on duty for nearly 30 hours with only a three- to four-hour rest during the flight. Combine sleep deprivation and time changes with the energy it takes to greet and look after so many strangers in a confined space, and you will understand why some flight attendants don’t have the energy to give more than the bare minimum.” — Robert

Some responses have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Before You Go

A digital luggage scale

32 Products Reviewers Say Are A "Travel Essential"