Let’s face it — hardly anybody wants to listen to the flight attendants on an airplane. If it’s the in-flight safety announcements, it’s boring. If it’s an emergency announcement, it’s terrifying. Neither of those are optimal states of being, so what can you do?
A sense of humor goes a long way in making boring situations tolerable and terrifying situations manageable. These flight attendants keep us laughing despite the challenges of modern air travel.
You’ve Got to Get Your Inventory Somewhere
Perhaps we’d all leave fewer things behind on airplanes if we knew they’d end up getting peddled on the black market. Upon landing, one airline attendant was overheard saying, “Please feel free to leave behind any of your items in the overhead compartment; I’m having a yard sale this weekend.”
Next time you see your luggage, neck pillows or duty-free vodka in someone’s front yard, you’ll know where they came from. Maybe if you work something out with the flight attendant, you can get a cut!
After a particularly rough landing, one flight attendant quipped, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have just attacked Los Angeles.” After the luggage has been thrown asunder throughout the cabin, the booze has splashed on your vacation clothes, you whispered your prayers and your knuckles have whitened…it’s always good to end on a hearty laugh.
See? You almost all died in a horrific fireball crashing onto the runway at uncontrollable speeds. But you didn’t, so just forget it and get soused at the airport bar like the rest of the passengers.
For the Quickest Way off the Plane…
Being intimidated by the buttons above you in passenger seating is silly. Look at the pilots — they have hundreds of buttons to deal with. You have just a few little buttons above your seat, and none of them affect the functioning of the plane. At least, that’s what we’re told.
But not so fast. One flight attendant said this: “The yellow button is your reading light. Please don’t press the orange button unless you absolutely have to. The orange button is your ejector seat button.” Better hope you waited for those instructions!
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
It’s unlikely that anyone who has ever dreamed of having children has really thought through all the details. Sure, those kids seem to complete the idyllic family life, but that was before you locked yourself into a metal cylinder with them hurtling through the air at ludicrous speeds.
One flight attendant was overheard asking a question for the ages: “For those of you traveling with your children — why? And for those of you that are traveling with two of your children, what in the world were you thinking?”
Don’t Get Stuck Holding the Bag
Flight attendants come up with creative means of getting all the passengers off the plane as soon as possible. They’re on a tight schedule and don’t have time for dawdlers.
One can only imagine the stampede of passengers rushing off when one flight attendant announced, “Last one off the plane must clean it.” They’re kidding, right? They have specialized teams of cleaners for that, don’t they? Better push a few children and old ladies out of the way just to be sure.
Southwest Airlines flight attendant Marty Cobb posted a viral video of herself performing a comedic version of the safety instructions. She started with, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention for just a few moments? My ex-husband, my new boyfriend and their divorce attorney are going to show the safety features.”
Of course, she was kidding. Or maybe she was only half-kidding. Either way, she might’ve picked up a few more phone numbers on that flight. But be careful, fellas; she’s a man-eater, and you may end up on YouTube.
That’s Gonna Cost Ya
Viral flight attendant star Marty Cobb had a few more jokes up her sleeve, touching on how airlines like to nickel and dime passengers for amenities. During the in-flight safety demonstration with the oxygen mask, she announced, “To activate the flow of oxygen, just insert 75 cents for the first minute.”
Well, that’s reasonable. Things like snack boxes, liquor, in-flight Wi-Fi and oxygen are all extra. Wait. What? Don’t worry about it. As long as you have a small- or medium-sized backpack full of quarters, you’ll be just fine.
Put It Out or We’ll Put You Out
There was a day when passengers could smoke in the passenger cabins of airplanes, but those days are long gone. However, some passengers still need some polite reminding.
Not to put too fine a point on it, one flight attendant announced, “There is no smoking in the cabin on this flight. There is also no smoking in the toilets. If we see any smoke coming from a toilet, we will assume you are on fire and put you out. This is a free service we provide to you.”
Was That My Luggage?
There’s nothing like a bit of violent dropping and shaking on an airplane to get the ol’ blood flowing again. Panic is usually passengers’ first reaction, followed by a death grip on the armrests and the downing of any liquor within reach. It’s not pleasant, and it can’t end soon enough.
Flight attendants know this and often try to disarm the situation with humor. During a nasty spell of turbulence, a flight attendant assured passengers, “No need to be alarmed folks. That’s just the sound of your luggage being ejected from the aircraft.”
Try Not to Think About It
Does anyone ever really stop to think that strapping into an airplane and flying across the country is something our ancestors would have considered insane? That there’s nothing separating you from the ground thousands of feet down other than a thin sheet of metal?
In case they might’ve forgotten, one flight attendant reminded passengers, “Thank you for flying with us today. And the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of US Airways.”
Aiming to Please
It’s great to know that when something goes wrong on an airplane, the flight attendants and crew try to go out of their way to fix it. It doesn’t always work, but at least they put in some effort.
Riffing on traditional customer service spiels, one flight attendant assured passengers who had been waiting a long time at the gate, “Sorry for the delay folks, but the machine that breaks your luggage is broken. We’ll have you off the plane as soon as we get done breaking it by hand.”
Nature has a way of guaranteeing the survival of your genes. If you have many children, congratulations! They’ll look after you when you’ve grown old. As long as you look after them well right now — which might be hard, depending on the flight you book.
Case in point? One flight attendant pointed out the following during the safety demonstration: “If you are traveling with two or more children, please take a moment now to decide which one is your favorite. Help that one first, and then work your way down.”
Don’t Get Your Hopes Up
Though experienced flyers know what all the buttons above the seat do, there are always a few newbies who may not. The flight attendants are there to help get those rookies caught up to speed.
As Southwest Airlines flight attendant Jeff Simpson once explained, “We’ll be dimming the lights in the cabin. Pushing the light-bulb button will turn your reading light on. However, pushing the flight-attendant button will not turn your flight attendant on.” Thank goodness for that.
It’s Like a Water Park
No one ever wants to really imagine what happens “in the event of a water landing.” Yes, you’re glad there are precautions, but you pray this won’t happen to you. That’s not a euphemism you want to hear associated with planes.
One Southwest Airlines flight attendant put a chipper spin on the gloom and doom of imagining the worst and reframed it as a party: “In the event of a water landing, your seat-bottom cushions can be used as flotation devices. Just kick-paddle, kick-paddle all the way to shore. We will be sure to follow you with the booze.”
It’s Just Business
If you stop and think about it, business travelers pay a lot for their airline tickets, particularly when you consider how much they pay for huge upgrades over coach. This is not lost on the flight attendants, who seem to give a nod to the fact that these frequent flyers spend quite a bit.
Said one snarky flight attendant on Delta, “Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”
Not to State the Obvious
Take-off speed for the average commercial airliner is somewhere around 150 miles an hour. That’s faster than you’ll go in a car, and you’re doing it in a gigantic jetliner that weighs somewhere around 60 tons. Those engines have to work overtime to get you into the air. If you stop and think about what it takes, you realize it’s quite impressive.
As one Southwest flight attendant said: “Buckle your seatbelts folks. We’re about to go so fast that we’re gonna fly.” It’s kind of a modern miracle, so strap yourself in!
No One Flies for the Food
Airplane food has been the butt of jokes for decades. And with good reason! But to be fair, not every airline serves horrible food, and if you’re in first class, your experience is much different. That being said, for most everyone the meals are just awful.
The flight attendants know this, and in one of their announcements they used it as a threat: “Please remain seated until the plane has come to a complete stop at the gate. Anyone caught standing up will be force-fed another meal.”
Public Service Announcement
We all know smoking is bad for us, yet millions of people still light up every day. Generations ago, smoking was everywhere: restaurants, planes, bars, hotels. These days in most places, smoking is limited to outdoor spaces or inside your own home.
Back in the 1990s, there was another major push using public service announcements to stop people from smoking. One passenger who was flying United Airlines back then remembers overhearing a flight attendant announce: “…and as you enter the terminal, please remember not to smoke…for the rest of your lives.”
If You Don’t Like the Oxygen, You’ll Love the Booze
Everyone who’s flown has seen the safety demonstration, so it’s not like you’re missing something if you tune out — except when the flight attendants start messing with your head. Southwest, in particular, is known for inserting humor into the otherwise-dry and canned safety announcements that the Federal Aviation Administration makes mandatory.
It’s when you’re kind of zoning out that they can slip in the stealth joke. During the oxygen-mask presentation, one flight attendant quipped, “Although the plastic bag may not inflate, you are receiving lots and lots of gin.”
Whatever Happens in Vegas…
Flight attendants working the shuttle between Los Angeles and Las Vegas have surely seen it all. The contrast between the “we’re all gonna be rich!” energy on the way to Vegas couldn’t be more different than the “we’re hungover and broke” vibe on the way back. Reality is pretty tough.
As one passenger was returning to Los Angeles from Vegas, he heard the flight attendant say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed our short flight from Las Vegas. As a friendly reminder, please put your wedding rings back on.”
The Choice Is Yours
Let’s face it. Flying isn’t an ideal comfort situation for anyone unless you’re in first or business class — but even all those amenities can’t make up for being trapped in a tin can with dozens of people flying at unfathomable speeds.
However, with the right mindset, you can at least enjoy a drink, watch a movie, listen to music or take a nap to pass the time. One flight attendant encouraged passengers to find their inner Zen: “Sit back and relax, or sit up and be tense, either way.”
Survival Can Be a Party
This joke was so popular it made the regular rounds on the Southwest in-flight safety announcements for a while. It’s hard to make light of a potentially life-threatening situation, but it’s not hard to recognize the ridiculous fashion statement a life vest makes.
If you’re going to do gallows plane humor, you might as well get a little silly with it. As many of the flight attendants on Southwest say, “You’ll notice in the highly unlikely event the captain lands near a hot tub everybody gets their own teeny weeny yellow bikini.”
The Smoking Section Is Breezy
The urge for serious smokers to start puffing on a flight is real. That’s the power of nicotine addiction. But, unless you’re a time traveler from the 1960s, everyone knows that you can’t light up on a plane. Between the jet fuel and the flammable upholstery, it’s a wonder smoking was ever allowed to begin with.
This windy warning was heard on a Southwest flight: “Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light ’em, you can smoke ’em.”
Get Out the Back, Jack
Most everyone would like to think that they’d remain calm in an emergency situation, but reality dictates otherwise. In case of an emergency landing, the biggest and strongest among the passengers might fall apart, while the smallest and shyest may be stoic and calm. This is why it’s important to listen during the part of the safety demonstration about exits.
As one flight attendant pointed out, “There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only four ways out of this airplane.” Remember, and take notes.
Who Says Nothing Is Free Anymore?
The older generations remember that flying used to come with all kinds of perks that were complimentary with your boarding pass. Meals were much more extravagant. You didn’t have to pay extra for carry-on luggage. You could usually get at least one boozy drink for free.
These days you’re lucky if you can get some extra cheese and crackers for less than $15. But you still get a few things for free. One customer-minded flight attendant reminded passengers, “Please keep your seat belts fastened and enjoy our complimentary turbulence.”
Sometimes it’s more powerful to work with passenger urges instead of against them. Flight attendants know about that weird 20 minutes or so between when the plane lands and when it comes to a full stop. That’s when every passenger on the plane is champing at the bit to stand up, stretch and get out.
Once one particular flight landed in London, the flight attendants announced, “We are currently recruiting people to clean the aircraft. If you wish to volunteer, then please stand before we have come to a stop.”
We Take Full Responsibility
There’s nothing more refreshing than an airline that takes complete responsibility for any and all customer service-related issues. Well, there’s one thing more refreshing: an airline that doesn’t take itself too seriously and uses humor to defuse issues. For some reason, it’s easier to trust someone who’s funny over a stiff stuffed shirt.
One chipper Southwest flight attendant said, “Thank you for choosing Southwest Airlines for your flight today. If you had any problems with this flight, remember you were riding with Delta.” Got that? D-E-L-T-A.
You Aren’t Made of Money
Fines are steep for misbehaving on airplanes. Penalties are high for smoking, because, you know, open flames and flammable everything-around-you don’t mix. And you just can’t get that cigarette smoke out of the recirculated air.
During the safety demonstration, a flight attendant made that clear by announcing: “No smoking is allowed, not even in the toilets. Don’t be naughty in our potty. If you do there is a $2,000 fine, and if you had that kind of money you’d be flying United instead of Southwest.”
Don’t Scrimp on the Extras
After the full presentation on using the oxygen mask in an emergency, Southwest flight attendant Marty Cobb added, “And let’s be honest, only those that paid the extra $49.99 get any extra oxygen.”
The funny (or not-so-funny) thing about this is that almost everyone could imagine a future in which people might have to pay extra in advance for life-saving amenities such as oxygen or inflatable life vests. Maybe if you just spring for the floating cushion, you can suck the air out of that instead.
Smile and Don’t Panic
One plane had such a rough landing in Phoenix, even the smiling flight attendants couldn’t help commenting. You have to wonder if they have these announcements scripted beforehand. If they don’t, most flight attendants could have futures in the comedy circuit.
One passenger recalls them reacting off the cuff: “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt up against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.” Sometimes it’s better when they’re not pretending everything is fine.