As Luxe Nomads we spend a lot of time at a plane’s cruising altitude. While we’ve, personally, seen a lot of bad and good in the air and on our favourite IG account about terrible passengers, our experiences can’t compare to those of flight attendants. These guardians of the sky have seen the best and worst of humanity (let’s face it – nothing brings out a person’s true colours like being crammed into a tiny space next to a crying infant for fourteen hours). To learn more about the ticks, horrors, and quirks of flying, we spoke to Josefina Seitz, a former Chief Purser with Cathay Pacific about her experiences and tips. Read on for the good stuff (some of these are serious doozies).
The temper tantrum
From being kicked to having passengers urinating into vomit bags to those using windows to dry their wet underwear, flight attendants have seen it all.
And Josefina gave us reason to remember that money doesn’t buy class (nut rage incident, anyone?). In one of her stories, she talked about a first class passenger who refused to sit in her allocated seat during a Hong Kong to Paris flight.
As she tells it, the passenger in question, “prebooked a window seat, but during check-in, staff explained that the entertainment system was defective. As the flight was fully booked, she was given a middle seat.”
“On board, she refused to sit down. She insisted on having the entertainment system in her originally allocated window seat fixed, endlessly harassing the crew on-board and making it so the other passengers couldn’t relax. Her stubbornness caused a massive delay.
“On arrival, without her knowledge, the captain had to call for police assistance. The woman was taken to the airport police station. The crew had to get involved too and were asked to give statements.
“It ended up being such an ordeal that she was ultimately banned from ever flying with Cathay again”.
Lesson Learned: Justified or not (in this case, not), temper tantrums will only end up with you getting banned from your favourite airline.
The straight-up fibber
Yes, as we step up to the boarding gate to scan our ticket, we’re all hoping that the attendant will pause, take out their mighty pen and scratch out our designated seat number and input a new seat one class up. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the moment is glorious. (Does anyone else do a little dance when this happens?)
But, just because you think you deserve to be upgraded doesn’t mean you can lie your way to the top.
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“One passenger”, Josefina tells us, “demanded to be upgraded from business to first class. He was claiming to be a Diamond card holder (Cathay Pacific’s highest loyalty tier). As a Chief Purser, before passengers board, I receive a list of everyone who will be on the flight.
“I consulted my list, and he was not listed as he claimed. When I tried to explain that we could not upgrade him, he began to berate me. He tried berating me throughout the flight to get his upgrade, but I had to stay firm.”
Lesson Learned: No means No! And, like in life, lying won’t get you so far.
There is no joy in finally landing at your chosen destination only to find that all the gates are full and you’ll be taxiing for the next two hours. We’ve all got places to be!
When asked about flying pet peeves, delays and flight disruptions were top of mind. Flight attendants don’t love it when you keep asking about the delays either. More often than not, they are not aware of what your final arrival time will be.
And those dirty toilets, well, they hate those too. “Even as a Chief,” Josefina says, “I’ll make sure toilets are clean before and after a meal service”.
Lesson Learned: Please be clean, aim straight and don’t revert back into the child who continually asks, “Are we there yet?”
Read also: How I travel: Emirates pilot Ignatius CK
Tips for the rest of us
Keeping your skin glorious
If you’re like me and your skin turns from baby soft to dragon’s hide within about two hours of boarding a flight, you’re probably wondering how to manage your in-flight self-care best.
Turns out, having that third coffee is probably ruining you. The air in aeroplane cabins can be as low as 12% humidity. That is drier than most of the world’s deserts! If you’re going to keep your skin healthy, skip the coffee and the wine. Apparently, it’s all about “drinking lots of water and investing in a good facial moisturiser.”
Lesson Learned: Bring a reusable bottle of water (there are usually places to refill it on the flight). Take the facial moisturiser seriously. The dryness is probably the cause of all that post-flight acne you’ve been getting.
For those with young kids
How many times have you woken up on a flight to find that the reason you’ve been jolted awake is the child behind you? Whether they’re busy kicking the back of your seat or plucking your leg hair (THIS IS A REAL PROBLEM, PEOPLE), no one wants to get stuck near a bored and angry child.
If you’re flying with kids, Josefina wants you to remember a few simple things, like always “informing your kids not to kick the front seat. This is the easiest way to get in a fight or suffer the complaints of the passenger in front.”
And with today’s technology, maybe let go of your reservations about screen time. “It’s easier to keep them busy and happy, thanks to the available inflight entertainment system.”
For those with younger kids, try to “incorporate cough syrup in their formula. This will help them fall asleep, even if they’re a bit overstimulated”. Doing this will also help with the changes in air pressure for kids that can’t regulate themselves.
Lesson Learned: Courtesy begets courtesy, and making sure your kids can sleep is paramount to everyone’s sanity.
For being a superstar packer
Being on the road constantly means needing to know how to pack as effectively as possible. Flight attendants have to know where everything is all the time – there can be no last minute tossing of random items in the hopes that everything has made it into a suitcase.
So, what’s the secret of well-organised luggage?
According to the pair, it’s all about, “folded [not rolled] clothes and packing cubes!”
If you’re not already acquainted with packing cubes, you really should be. They make sure that everything has its place. You can use them for keeping your lotions sealed off and away from your clothes, the dirty soles of your shoes away from your unmentionables and all your chargers and cords neatly tucked away.
Lesson Learned: Effective packing doesn’t have to be a battle. With packing cubes, there’s a place for everything.
Read also: How to Pack Your Bags the KonMari Way