When people ask me about the craziest things I’ve seen as a flight attendant (which usually happens the minute they find out what I do for a living), I’ll usually share stories about passengers who get naked or attempt to open the emergency doors in flight. One passenger actually did both! For the record, this is physically impossible to do at 30,000 feet. Or I’ll mention the first class passenger who kept coming into the first class galley after having not that many Jack and Cokes to eat other passenger’s leftover food out of a dirty meal cart. Or the passenger who got hit on the head by luggage – and then threatened to sue the airline because the injury had affected her psychic abilities. I’ve even seen a woman attempt to store her baby in an overhead bin. Passengers seated nearby didn’t seem to mind.
To be fair I also have some funny flight attendant stories. One of my coworkers boarded a flight carrying a vacuum cleaner. I don’t know what disturbed me more, the wet and Marge Simpson-like beehive bun or watching her try to cram the full size Hoover into the first class closet. Another flight attendant I worked with was determined to save every single plastic bottle she collected over the course of a three day trip. She looked like a glamorous homeless person dragging the loot inside a gigantic clear plastic bag through airport terminals nationwide.
To me, the interesting thing about all these crazy stories is this: what I think is weird never sounds strange to those who work on the ground. For instance, once a passenger asked if she could borrow my dental floss. Never mind the word “borrow,” as in she might give it back. Right now you’re probably thinking to yourself, what’s the big deal? I hear that all the time. But tell me, is there any other place on earth where someone feels comfortable enough to ask a complete stranger if they can borrow something from their toiletry bag? The same goes for just taking things. I would never dream of walking into someone’s place of business and grabbing something off his or her desk to keep as a souvenir.
I’ve had thousands of passengers borrow pens and never give them back. Some have taken newspapers and magazines lying on top of my tote bag. I guess it was the big red CREW bag tag that made them think it was okay. Thankfully no one has ever taken my uniform blazer. One of my colleagues actually found his standing in line at customs!