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!