Just like Mac from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” flight attendants perform ocular pat downs the second you board the plane.
A few of these hardworking attendants recently hopped on a Quora (h/t The Independent) question-and-answer session to inform the Internet about: What do flight attendants notice about passengers as they board the plane?
I always knew there was a reason, outside of awkward pleasantries that attendants, greeted us all with a smile and kind words at the door. This is all to help them gauge a wealth of things, from whether you are sick to whether you’re about to treat the cabin like a booze cruise in the sky.
Amar Rama offered an extensive list of things they look at as you board the plane: “This is anyone who is drunk or on drugs, because this can pose a potential safety and security issue. In the event we may need to evacuate the aircraft, the goal is to do so in 90 seconds, and I don’t want to unnecessarily risk my life or the life of others because a drunk or high person is being uncooperative.”
You could also be too sick to fly. Rama explains, “We are in an enclosed space, therefore if you’re sick, it’s not right to pass it on to others.”
Janice Bridger chimes in that she wants her passengers to feel welcome. But there is more to the greetings than just infusing the cabin with goodwill:
“While I’m trying to give that impression, I’m evaluating you very closely. It’s your impression on me that I’m paying close attention to, and I’m considering a number of possibilities.
“For example, here are just a few things that I consider: Is this person intoxicated? What attitude do I get from this person: helpful, belligerent, withdrawn? Is this person physically fit, powerful? If so, where is he/she sitting? Any physical disabilities or hindrances such as a limp, injured hand/arm, etc.? Traveling alone? With one other or with a group? Comfortable/fluent with [the] English language?”
When it comes to being inebriated, Bridger also has thoughts: “Obviously, if someone appears to be intoxicated, we don’t want them on the plane; the potential for future problems is too great.”
Myriam Mimi jokes, “Is he good looking and where is he sitting?”
But Mimi also continues with a bit more helpful information: “Most seriously, I check if they are drunk, drugged, sick, angry or afraid. That is extremely important as if I have the possibility to avoid any kind of troubles over the Atlantic, then I address it on ground. I say hello, welcome on board… and listen to how they respond.”
While a small subset of the flight attendant community, it’s clear that these officials are looking closely at their clientele on the ground. Their job begins well before the cabin doors shut.
Now, not to make you nervous, but it might pay not to slur your words when you say hello.