Business Insider Edition

A former flight attendant told us the most ridiculous things passengers have used the call button to ask

Alison Millington , Business Insider US
 Oct 20, 2019, 03:53 PM
Stop using the call button to ask stupid questions.
  • Former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen wants you to stop using the call button to ask stupid questions.
  • The creator of popular Instagram account Passenger Shaming has teamed up with travel website The Points Guy to produce a series of videos about "how to deal with traveling with maniacs in the sky."
  • One of them, titled "Stop Pushing the Call Button," details all of the ways passengers abuse the plane feature.
  • From handing over dirty diapers to asking if the plane is moving, here are the most ridiculous things passengers have used the call button to ask, according to Shawn Kathleen.
  • For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

People can be pretty terrible, and as many flight attendants will tell you, people in the air can be even worse.

Former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen, the creator of popular Instagram account Passenger Shaming, recently teamed up with travel website The Points Guy to produce a series of videos about "how to deal with traveling with maniacs in the sky" - and some of the things that have happened to her are pretty shocking.

"Sometimes it's a little difficult to believe when you read it," she told Business Insider, which is how the video series came about.

One of the videos, titled "Stop Pushing the Call Button," details all of the ways passengers abuse the plane feature.

After watching the video, we asked her for the most ridiculous things passengers have used the call button to ask her - and some of them are pretty hard to believe.

"I wish it was fictional but it's not fiction," Shawn Kathleen told Insider.

Shawn Kathleen in "Stop Pushing the Call Button" for The Points Guy.


'Can I borrow your headphones?'

"This happens all the time," she said. "They'll ask to borrow personal earbuds or headphones - [but] that's not really a thing."


'Are we moving yet?'

"When I got this question I thought, 'There's no way anybody has ever asked this before.'

"I was about two hours into a flight. I went over and was like, 'Can I help you, ma'am?' and she was like, 'Are we moving?'

"I didn't really have an answer because I've never had that question before, but evidently that's a thing."

"I wish I had a clever comeback because I was just kind of thrown off: 'Ma'am, we've been in the air for like two hours.' 'No, we're just hovering, we're just going to wait until the earth rotates and land.'"

She added that when she posted about this particular question online, multiple flight attendants told her it happens a lot.

"You're seeing clouds and you're in the sky," she said. "I guess they literally thought we were just hovering, I don't know, it was very apparent we were up in the air."


'Do you guys have bone broth?'

"You get the most insane food and beverage requests, that is a huge thing," she said.

"One would be, 'I'll have a black coffee.' You hand it to them and they say, 'Where's my cream and sugar?'

"They will order like they're standing in line at Starbucks - 'I'll get a venti flat white with two pumps of white mocha, 180 degrees.' I'm not joking."

She added: "What I'm discussing are domestic flights within the US, a couple of hours maximum, not in first class, just a regular few hundred dollar ticket, trying to order a Starbucks."


'Can I have some of your food?'

"I would have passengers ask me if they could have some of my food I brought on board," Shawn Kathleen told Business Insider. "I'd have a little cooler with food in, and they'd say 'can I eat some of yours?' That's not uncommon."

She added: "I've had colleagues where they have their food out and they step away for a few minutes and someone took their sandwich."


'Which state is that?'

Pointing out the window, she says passengers often ask: "Which state is that?"

"You know when you're flying over farms you see the lines? They'll be like, 'Is that the state line between Georgia and Florida?'"

"Or flying from New York to Florida they'll point outside and say, 'What ocean is that? Is that a river?'"


'Can you ask the captain to check the score of the game?'

Shawn Kathleen said passengers often ask flight attendants to ask the captain to check on things - such as the score of a game.

"And I don't mean the SuperBowl," she added.

"Or, 'Can you have him or her call ahead and hold the next plane for me?' That's not a thing."

"Or they'll ask the flight attendants to do that. We don't have phones. That's not an option."


'It's just pee'

People have even handed flight attendants dirty diapers.

Shawn Kathleen once posted to Passenger Shaming's Instagram story about a traveler who handed a dirty diaper to a flight attendant saying, "It's just pee."

"Someone said, 'That's your job and you should just take it.' But nurses don't do that. You need to be gloved up. I think a lot of parents aren't aware or educated.

"It's actually twofold when somebody tries to hand you a diaper. It shows you they didn't change the diaper in the lavatory and obviously did it in the seat. It's a closed cabin with circulated air where people are eating, and I promise more than likely there is a changing table in the lavatory."


'Do you have earbuds?'

"Q-tips (earbuds), dental floss, personal grooming items - I can't help you out," Shawn Kathleen said. "Toothbrush is another one I would get sometimes - I feel like they think you have those amenity kits, [but] we're not talking about Emirates and you're going internationally. This is just economy domestic within the US on a 2-hour flight. That's not something that they have available, unfortunately."


Flight attendants do want you to be happy

Ultimately, Shawn Kathleen said she wants passengers to know that flight attendants do want them to be happy.

"The number one function of a flight attendant is that they want you to be comfortable, they don't want to be in a cabin with passengers who are unhappy. They want you to be comfortable and happy and get what you need."

However, she added: "The call button is for basic necessities you would need during the flight. Maybe you can wait five minutes until someone comes through with the trash."

As she concludes in the video: "Please do feel free to use the call button if you're not feeling well, if maybe your arm sponteaneously fell off during the flight, you need a blanket (who am I kidding, you're not going to get a blanket), but otherwise, if it's not important, keep that shit to yourself."

You can watch the video here:


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