Think back to the last time you boarded a plane. Chances are, you were far more interested in finding your seat and storing your luggage than chatting to the flight attendant. But even in that brief interaction as they welcomed you on board, they’ll likely have learned plenty about you – from how well you handle flying, to your ability to help out in an emergency.
10. If you look them in the eye
If you don’t make eye contact with the flight attendant when boarding a plane, you could be sending off all the wrong signals. “More often than not, the ones who don’t make eye contact make me investigate,” Southwest Airlines flight attendant Stephanie Mikel told the Huffington Post in 2017. “Are they scared of flying? Are they feeling okay? Are they dealing with a personal issue?”
Yes, rather than looking out for suspicious behavior, Mikel said checking for eye contact is actually more about making sure passengers are comfortable. If you want to reassure your flight attendant that you’re fine, make sure to lock eyes with them when you board the plane. After all, much of what flight attendants pick up on is simple body language.
9. If you talk to them
If you’re spending hours thousands of feet in the air with someone, it’s a good idea to build a rapport. That’s why flight attendants will favor chatty passengers, according to American Airlines employee Heather Poole. “When I say hello and a passenger responds back, I notice and think, ‘wow, that person is really nice,’” she told the Huffington Post.
“If a passenger ever needs help from me, I’ll probably go above and beyond the call of duty for a nice passenger,” she continued. If you think small talk is pointless, then, you may want to reconsider. Indeed, it may just make you stand out in a flight attendant’s mind, even aboard a busy plane.
8. If you’re nervous
In order to make sure their passengers are happy and relaxed, flight attendants pay particular attention to anyone who looks nervous. “I ask passengers if everything is alright if I have the feeling something isn’t perfect,” TUI fly attendant Claudia Sieweck said. “Passengers with fear of flying get my special attention: I love to care for them and to make them feel comfortable.”
So if you are a particularly nervous flier, don’t be afraid to show it. After all, there’s no way the flight attendants can do anything about it if they don’t know what’s wrong. And chances are, they’re only going to be happy to help.
7. If you’re in shape
Flight attendants are always on the lookout for people who might be able to help out in an emergency. Primarily, they’re looking for people who are able-bodied, fit and muscular. “I consider this person a resource for me,” flight attendant Janice Bridger wrote on knowledge-sharing site Quora.“In the event of an attack on the flight or on me, these are my ‘go-to’ people.”
Nevertheless, Bridger admitted that it’s a last resort for the crew. “We hope it never happens, but we will prepare just in case it does,” she said. So, if you have a decent physique, chances are you’ve been clocked by a flight attendant at some point as potential backup.
6. If you’re traveling alone
As part and parcel of that able-bodied check, flight attendants will also try to identify whether the person is traveling alone. “If they are with a spouse or child or family members, they are likely to be more focused on their safety than being much help to the aircraft in an emergency situation,” one flight attendant told style website FashionBeans.
It’s not just those passengers that flight attendants will keep an eye out for, though. Indeed, if kids are traveling alone, they’ll often go the extra (air) mile to ensure they have a good trip. And that can mean anything from giving them extra snacks, to placing a mid-air phone call home.
5. If you’re pregnant
Flight attendants aren’t just checking for pregnancies out of sheer curiosity. “I’m searching women to see if they are hiding baby bumps with loose clothing,” Fly Guy employee Jay Robert told the Huffington Post. “After a certain point in a pregnancy, women need a doctor’s certificate to travel, and after a set period they are no longer allowed to fly.”
If you’re heavily pregnant, then, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Indeed, most airlines won’t let you fly once you’re 36 weeks pregnant – and that also includes your return flight. You don’t want to find yourself stranded far from home when you’re about to give birth, after all.
4. If you’re drunk
Knowing whether passengers are inebriated can help prevent anything unruly going down in the air. “Intoxication and aggressive passengers are prime suspects we try to identify at the doors,” Robert said. “We are trained in basic taekwondo techniques to handle acts of aggression in the sky, but stopping them before they get up there is our main goal.”
Sure, the age-old tale that you get drunk faster on an airplane isn’t really true, because there’s enough air in the cabin to prevent that from happening. But it’s probably still a good idea to limit your alcohol intake before a flight. Otherwise, you could find yourself being very closely watched by the flight attendants.
3. If you’re under the weather
If you’re not feeling too well, then spending time in a pressurized cabin thousands of feet in the air may not be the smartest idea. And flight attendants agree. “I’ve had passengers board who look pasty and pale, deathly ill,” Bridger wrote. “We removed them; nobody wants their flu germs!”
While this may seem harsh, it’s much easier to solve any medical emergencies on the ground than in the air. It’s no wonder, then, that flight attendants scrutinize their passengers so closely during the boarding process. After all, prevention is much better than the cure.
2. If you help out other passengers
If you’re naturally courteous towards your fellow travelers, it won’t go unnoticed. Indeed, experienced flight attendant Shreyas Parikh wrote on Quora in April 2018 that a passenger helping out an elderly or less able traveler would “earn a lot of respect from the crew.”
“If you like things to go smooth and the crew to be nice… just be polite not only to crew but also give a helping hand to the fellow passengers and more importantly be courteous to everyone,” Parikh wrote. Really, it doesn’t hurt to just treat your fellow travelers and the flight crew with the same respect you’d expect from them.
1. If you’re single
When you board a flight, romance is probably the last thing on your mind – but not so for flight attendants, according to Ryanair employee Dani Sherlock. “We keep an eye out for single traveling passengers and as a flight attendant it is very easy to engage in conversation with them to see if we share some same interest,” he wrote on Quora.
So if you give off any telltale signs of your singledom, the flight crew is probably going to notice. And who knows? Maybe you’ll join Sherlock’s apparently long list of people who have found the love of their life at 30,000 feet.