The issue wasn't as bad a decade ago.
Getting onto an airplane is not exactly a relaxing experience. By the time we’re done packing, putting our liquids in little bags, getting to the airport, checking in for the flight, making our way through security, and elbowing our way through the crowd at the gate, most of us are ready to collapse into our too-small middle seat for the duration of the flight. Usually that means either putting on earphones to watch the rom-com that you missed in the theater or listening to music or an audiobook. Flight attendants though really, really wish you wouldn’t completely check out while flying.
Flight attendant Heather Poole wrote on her blog that there’s nothing more frustrating to a flight attendant than being flat-out ignored by passengers. On a side note: isn’t it a sad indictment of modern manners that she feels like she has to write that? According to Poole, though, it’s incredibly common. “When I stand in front of the boarding door and say 'good morning' most people don’t even respond,” she wrote. “They don’t even look at me. They just stare straight ahead and keep on walking.”
While veteran flyers may feel no need to listen to the flight attendant when they deliver safety instructions, willfully ignoring them while fidgeting with your e-reader simply isn’t polite, either. Poole notes that devices like iPhones and iPads (and we’re guessing those seat-back entertainment systems) aren’t helping the situation. “Before iPhones and iPads I’d ask passengers what they’d like to drink and they’d tell me. Simple. Now they stare at me blankly, not bothering to turn down the volume or take their headphones off,” she wrote. Some crafty flight attendants will ask once or twice, but won’t get a response until they start to move the cart further down the aisle, which spurs passengers into placing their Diet Coke orders. If your child tried that with you, they would be grounded faster than you can say Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Flight attendants, though, simply have to grin and bear it, because they are professionals, even in the face of rudeness.
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It should come as no surprise to anyone that flight attendants are human beings who deserve the common courtesy of listening when they speak and responding when they say hello or ask a question. We must work together to keep the friendly skies, friendly.