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You Can Ring My Bell – How To Chat Up Your Flight Attendant

When people outside the airline industry have questions for me, far and away the most frequent (behind the mile high club question, which we all hate) is whether or not it’s frowned upon to ask out your flight attendant. And really, there’s no problem with this at all, but unlike on the ground, you are stuck in a confined space together with no escape for hours on end, so neither party can walk away if it goes south. And the object of your affection is at work, not grabbing a drink at the same bar as you, so you’ll need to observe a much stricter code of conduct than you would otherwise. Here I’ve outlined the top things to keep in mind so you can go about this in the most tactful – and hopefully successful – way possible.

Start Off Small And Time It Right

Don’t try to start a huge conversation as he or she is trying to serve drinks or meals in a timely manner to fifty or more people. I enjoy chatting with my passengers, but it can get frustrating when they start telling me a long-winded story as I am rushing to serve the next person, since it would be rude of me to cut them off abruptly even though I desperately need to.

Mind Your Ps and Qs

Politeness is noticed a lot more than you think; we’re unfortunately used to one-word answers, grunts or pantomime in lieu of conversation. You’d be surprised, but smiling and saying, “May I have a coffee with cream, please?” during the service instead of “coffee – cream,” can be enough to put you on the radar.

It’s Gotta Be The Shoes

When you get up to use the lavatory, wear shoes. A passenger I had begun talking to outside of work ended up on a flight with me again after we had stopped talking. He went into the lavatory with only socks on, and left wet footprints through my galley afterward. My coworker was horrified, as was I, and I declined his offer to take me out. Flight attendants definitely look at your feet when nature beckons you, so make sure you aren’t barefoot or in socks! You wouldn’t do this at a bar, would you? The lavatory floors are no different!

Make Good Conversation

While you’re up from your seat for that restroom break, take a look around for the person you wanted to talk to. Is he or she busy? If not, make small talk. Try to make it interesting if you can, and steer it away from the ones we always hear – some to avoid are: “What’s your route?” “Do you like being a flight attendant?” “Do you meet lots of famous people?” And I’ll say it again because it unfortunately bears repeating – no Mile High Club questions. (It doesn’t happen much, and it’s a terribly boring topic.) Instead, try asking about your destination: “Do you know what the weather is supposed to be like in Chicago?” “I’ve never been to Hong Kong, are you familiar with it? Do you know of a good dim sum restaurant?” “I’m thinking of taking a side trip to Niagara Falls during my trip to Buffalo. Have you been? Do you think I have enough time to do it?” So, really, go for anything that can spark good thought-provoking conversation and doesn’t put him or her on the spot. Don’t start it off so much about the person you are talking to. Later, when the ice is broken, personal follow-up questions may be more comfortable to answer.

Let The Flight Attendant Show You Your Nearest Exit

Body language is everything. When I feel trapped in my galley speaking to a person I don’t want to talk to, I begin doing busy work. Lots of it. When call buttons go off, I respond in a split second to all of them instead of letting my coworkers handle any. I will never tell someone to go away unless the seatbelt sign is on or the person is physically blocking me from what I am doing. So if you find your conversation being interrupted, that’s your cue to leave. If the flight attendant wants to resume a conversation with you, he or she will either insist you stand by while a quick task is completed or will come by your seat to chat again later. The ball should always be in the flight attendant’s court after you’ve made initial contact.

Know How To Play The Numbers Game

NEVER ask for a phone number. Instead, hand yours over on a note or business card, and wait until the end of the flight to do so. If you give it out mid-flight and the flight attendant feels awkward knowing you’re interested (and this is coming from someone who rivals Woody Allen in awkwardness), it’ll be an uncomfortable and extra-long flight both of you as you dodge each other until landing.

I may have made this sound a little more complicated than it needs to be, but I’m only stressing that less is more. Sometimes the person on your crew also has an eye on you, but feels awkward approaching or isn’t sure if the feeling is mutual. It happens more than you think. So don’t just sit there! Unless the seat belt sign is on, of course. Go for it, and good luck!

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
GeorgieBoy4 February 24, 2017

Keep it professional. I completely disagree with this article's author. It is not a valid question. What is the matter with today's younger travellers? I am not an old fuddy-duddy, I too have thought how I would like to date a member of cabin crew. But sense kicked in. I hope the airlines continue to make clear policy on the ethics and propriety of the rules governing cabin crew behaviour. It will be deemed highly inappropriate if a pax mistakenly approaches a strict Muslim FA. There was one time when CX expanded hiring cabin crew from the Philippines. Marco Polo fliers gave them an uncomplimentary anacronym. But CX FFs knew its connotation and meaning alright. It took a very long time for the airline to lose that element of its reputation. If anyone wants to know the acronym you may send me an email. Otherwise not appropriate to post publicly. As a postscript, if you consider yourself someone important to maintain your reputation in your business or industry I would be aware of how so many women are more and more aware of their rights and status. You should not fall foul of temporary urges being trapped on board a tightly packed cabin of an aircraft for a number of hours when any advances you may do make towards an FA are taken unkindly and take it further. Harassment, troublemaker?

darthbimmer February 23, 2017

I read this article because I like chatting up flight attendants on longer flights. I have NEVER done it with the intent to ask anyone out, though! I just do it because I'm curious and because a bit of friendly chat helps those 8+ hour overseas flights pass more pleasantly. I've definitely noticed a certain level of wariness among FAs. That makes sense, though, as many people who start off the way I do with innocent and friendly conversation have an objective that's not so innocent. And many people are crass-- or will become crass-- about it. Stay friendly, and reciprocate in kind.

SamirD February 23, 2017

It's also important to know the queues and signs that someone is taken, whether on the ground or in the air--which I've found is mostly the case with domestic flights. And that's okay too because sometimes a good conversation is nice too. International flights are where I've interacted with more single FAs. I remember having a long conversation with a lovely FA on a Cathay Pacific flight while standing waiting for the bathroom. I actually let a few people go ahead of me as she was telling me all about her personal life back at home. Her life was pretty fascinating and made for some great conversation. Probably could have gotten her contact info right there, but that wasn't my intent (I'm happily married), and was just enjoying meeting someone interesting. The power of a great conversation goes as long way as well as being interesting as well as curious about someone else. I think everyone responds to that--attached or unattached, male or female.

Mountlodge February 23, 2017

On a flight from LAX to LHR last Spring I got into conversation with a cabin crew member with absolutely no intention of "Chatting her up". She talked about her brief layovers in London before heading back west. Being from Oxford I recommended she visit, and wrote down all of the places to visit. We got into quite a conversation and in between her having to attend to other matter, came back and continued the conversation with me. Out of the blue I suggested if she (and her colleagues) wanted a tour guide I would be happy to show them around my home city. Cut a long story short, we havd a great time eventually when we had mutual time to meet. There was never anything more than just wanting to be friendly with someone but I've made a friend and we keep in touch and with a trip to LAX planned for this Summer, I'll get the reciprocal tour when there. On a final note: Had I been in Coach and not Business, then I probably would not have had the same opportunity to take so much of her time. Nicest thing of all was when I was leaving the flight the thank-you was a mutual kiss on the cheek. Now, never had that before from a flight attendant. ML

ShamRockSteady February 23, 2017

I'm sorry, I think this is really inappropriate. Flight attendants have the right to go to work without men hitting on them all day.