Airplane attendants have a stressful job; taking care of the passengers, keeping everything in order, and making it as easy as possible for the pilot to do their job. Making the passengers are comfortable as possible may be the most important part of their job, and they're willing to do whatever they need to in order for that to happen. Just ask these Quora users.
People on Quora share the most surprising thing a flight attendant ever did for them. Content has been edited for clarity.
Wow, those are crazy. Content has been edited for clarity.
“I Felt So Special”
“I was flying with my wedding dress. It was the most expensive thing I’ve ever owned. I was so anxious. I arrived about two hours early for the flight. The gate agent told me he couldn’t guarantee anything, but to be ready as soon as he started boarding to see if I could snag one of the closets reserved for first class.
Before he started boarding, he gestured to me. I was then walked down the jet way by a different gate agent who handed me off directly to a flight attendant. She opened the closet, helped me navigate my dress in, and then put her jacket in front and closed it.
‘I won’t let anyone else put anything in it. Sit down. Congratulations,’ she said.
I sat down and anxiously watched the rest of the plane pass ‘my’ closet. Any time someone would approach it, the flight attendant kindly said ‘Sorry, that’s full. There’s space …(somewhere else).’
When we finally took off, I settled in. The drink cart came around and the flight attendant said to me, ‘Can I buy you a drink? To celebrate?’
I got my drink, and I felt so special.
When we landed, I got a tap on the shoulder again and was directed to my closet to remove my dress and was the first one off the plane.
Now, I know some of this is just the airplane really not wanting to be responsible for ruining a bride’s wedding dress… But that free drink will always feel special to me.”
“One Of My Memorable Nights”
“My sister and I were returning home to Cape Town and Johannesburg from Heathrow after a fabulous holiday together in Ireland. We were tired but had fun. We booked an aisle and window seat hoping that no-one was going to sit between us. Everyone was seated and it looked as if we were going close up when five passengers hurriedly boarded. Drat. They were on standby for no-shows. A nice-looking young man sat between us and shortly after take-off and dinner, my sister closed her eyes and stretched out to sleep.
I have never been able to sleep on planes or keep quiet, and Daniel was friendly. We both enjoyed the same drinks and it wasn’t long before Daniel told me he worked for the airline and was on his way to Cape Town for a holiday which he excited about. He hated the dreary weather of London and found it expensive to live there and couldn’t wait to see the sun again. Daniel was an insulin-dependent diabetic which had been diagnosed four months before this, which meant he had to quit working as a flight attendant and work in the airline office instead. He felt it necessary to tell me as he had a lot of attention from the attendants who knew him as well as needed to keep an eye on him. As with any Type I diabetic, medication was stored in the galley fridge.
We drank and chatted all night long, and were both quite hammered by 4 a.m. when everyone else was woken for breakfast. We both noticed that the attendants were paying us a lot more attention and watching us carefully but thought it was because we had been drinking all night. We weren’t boisterous or noisy though and Daniel worried whether he might be in trouble.
One last drink as we swapped numbers and email addresses before touching down in Johannesburg. The pilot announced as we landed that everyone was to disembark except Daniel, who was to remain seated. Now we were both worried and I said I would wait with him in case it was serious. At that moment we saw the red flashing lights of the ambulance racing to meet the aircraft. Fortunately before panic could set in, the attendant called Daniel to the galley to explain. While preparing breakfast earlier, someone had put Daniel’s insulin in the microwave oven and nuked it. The pilot had to call ahead and arrange for a doctor to meet us in case Daniel had taken ill. The attendants had been watching us for any signs that he may be deteriorating, not to monitor us as it turned out, and we were both so happy that it wasn’t as serious as it might have been.
We parted ways with good intentions of meeting up again and again and sadly neither of us followed through. It was one of my more memorable nights on a plane.”
“That Would Be Amazing”
“You know those parents who fly business class with their young children? That’s me. In the spring of 2016, we were on the very last day of our Japan vacation when my two-year-old daughter, ‘K’ came down with a cold. It was the last day of our trip – a trip that had already been disrupted and replanned on the fly because we’d arrived the day before the earthquake in Kyushu – and I had been optimistically counting on getting us home before her cold got any worse.
We got to the airport and through immigration without incident, and boarded the plane only for K to develop a fever upon takeoff. And like a complete idiot, I’d packed the medicines in our check-in luggage.
As K howled in her dad’s arms, I dug in my handbag for a spare paracetamol tablet which I ineffectually tried to pound into powder. I was this close to joining her in tears when a suited flight attendant appeared discreetly at my elbow, bearing a kind, sympathetic smile.
‘Mrs L, I can see that K isn’t feeling comfortable,’ she said.
Me, with a smile-grimace: ‘I’m afraid she’s got a fever and I don’t have anything on hand that she’ll take.’
Me, in my head: Here we go… I’m about to find out what happens when you’re That Parent in business class.
‘Perhaps I can help,’ the flight attendant said with a smile.
Wait, this isn’t about us disturbing the beauty rest of everyone around us?
‘If you’d like to take a look at our first-aid box, there may be some medicines suitable for K that would help her feel better,’ she said as she lead me up to the box.
Me: ‘Oh my God, that would be amazing.’
Half an hour later, K was sleeping soundly, her fever under control with a dose of liquid paracetamol for kids. The flight attendant had even found a brand-new syringe that I could use to squirt the medicine into her mouth.
That the plane had exactly what I needed in their first aid box was already nothing short of an answer to prayer. But more than that, the flight attendant demonstrated such sympathy and kindness, and made me feel like I had a friend and an ally – this all compounded my feeling of relief at a time when I was feeling absolutely helpless and frustrated whilst trapped in a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air.”
“It’s On Us”
“In the 1990s, I received a letter from my late father’s older sister that their youngest sister was dying. My dad died when I was 15. The relationships I had with both of his sisters, my aunts, were very important to me. I loved them for who they were, but also characteristics that reminded me of my dad in the physical form. The shape of an arm; a wry look. I felt close to my dad when they were near. I got on the phone. My Aunt S, who’d written, talked to me. She was in Florida taking care of my Aunt B, who was now receiving hospice care at home.
Aunt B hadn’t wanted to make a fuss about being ill. Her daughter was with her, and Aunt S, but that was it. I asked if I could come down. My Aunt S asked my cousin and they said I was welcome. I wanted to see my Aunt B before she died. I found a flight leaving that night. I got a car service to LaGuardia.
Now, Aunt B and my cousin lived near Orlando, so that’s where I was flying.
It never once occurred to me that the flight would be full of young children and their families going to Disney. Oh, dear God. Save me.
It’s not that I dislike children. Exactly. I just dislike noise. Although, I must say, I chose not to have children on purpose. I require a lot of time alone. I can unequivocally say I am not a fan of Disney. The idea of being stuck on a plane for hours with a bunch of kids just was horrifying.
In those days you could upgrade to first class, if there were seats open, for anywhere from $60-$100 bucks. I would have paid anything not to be in the main cabin. That’s what credit cards are for. Dire emergencies. I approached the desk. I asked the agent if I could upgrade.
‘Sorry, we are all sold out,’ I was told.
I wasn’t giving up.
‘Is there any chance at all of a seat opening up,’ I asked. I’m afraid my eyes were pleading.
‘You can check back,’ she said. ‘You never know.’
I checked back. And back. And back. No luck.
Listen, you do not have to tell me how ridiculous this is. I can’t help it if I get frazzled nerves. We board. I am in a seat near the back. You can do this, I think. At least you’re not in a middle seat.
Some kid caddy corner to my seat turned around and stared at me. He had a sticky face and hands. He just kept staring. Kids are smart. They can sense an enemy.
I’m going to cry, I think to myself. Another young child was warming up her vocal cords like an opera diva for a long, loud cry.
After the doors closed, a flight attendant walked down the aisle and beckoned toward me. I immediately unbuckled and grabbed my bag. She walked right up through the first class partition and beckoned to an empty aisle seat.
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Oh, oh thank you. Thank you so much. Who do I pay?’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ she said. ‘It’s on us.’
Two minutes later, a male flight attendant came up to me and in a perfect deadpan said, ‘M’am, I do have a middle seat between two screaming toddlers back there if you prefer.’
He and the other flight attendants laughed at me for ten minutes. I guess my face was an easy read. We took off, arrived in Orlando safely; and I spent the last three days of my Aunt B’s life with her. To this day I’m grateful to those flight attendants for protecting me from those scary children.”
“Doesn’t Happen Often Enough”
“Just this past Christmas Day, my eight-year-old granddaughter and I were flying economy class home to Montana from Georgia. My father isn’t well and since I’m raising my granddaughter, she has been in GA with me while I help him out. We arrived to the airport several hours before our flight and found ways to occupy our time once we were past security. We were both in pleasant moods and just enjoying the experience while waiting at the gate for our departure. Many others around us were stressed and grumpy including an older couple that complained about everything seated near us while we waited. No worries for us though, I knitted and my granddaughter played on her tablet with headphones or played quietly with a doll she brought along. As far as we were concerned, we’d get there and all was well.
When it was finally time to board, we hung back to give everyone else a chance to get settled. It doesn’t make sense to me to hurry up and wait so I avoid it when I can.
As we approached the ticket agent to get scanned, for boarding, she asked us to ‘please stand over there’ while she scanned in other people behind us. I thought, uh oh. We hadn’t left anything behind at security or the shops, weren’t carrying forbidden items and hadn’t been making a nuisance of ourselves but you still get that twinge of anxiety when they single you out.
After scanning the other stragglers, the agent walked behind the ticketing counter and asked for our tickets. I gave them to her and asked what was this all about. She had the biggest twinkle in her eye when informed me they were giving us an early Christmas present and we’d been moved to first class!
Of course, we enjoyed our flight immensely! Having the extra leg room and not having to share our row with anyone else was delicious!
Strangely enough, when we left Missoula on New Year’s Day to fly back to Atlanta with a layover in Denver, we got bumped up again! Both flights! For no discernible reason other than the airline being awesome and in a holiday mood. We were already seated in our economy class seats when the captain walked back to our row and offered a tour of the cockpit to my granddaughter while we were waiting to take off. When he brought her back to our seats, he asked if we’d like move to first class so off we went! He gave her a lego airplane set with encouragement that she could fly airplanes like this one day if she wanted.
And I don’t even know how it happened in Denver, it just did. We were issued new tickets before we boarded. Maybe the Atlanta agent bumped us up round trip?
It’s always the little things in life, isn’t it? The flight from Atlanta was my granddaughter’s first time flying and I’m so thankful her first experiences were positive. Everyone and every step of our journey was just easy and relaxed. Aside from the good changes, all went as it should. That doesn’t happen often enough, it seems.”
“You Made Up For It”
“This happened when I was flying late at night from somewhere (I forget where) in Africa back to Europe in a business-class seat. Shortly after takeoff, the crew was busy getting the dinner service ready, but all I wanted to do was sleep. When I realized that my seat wouldn’t recline, I rang the service bell. A stewardess came, listened to my complaint, and said they would fix it as soon as possible.
About 20 minutes later, I lost patience, walked back to the service area where the staff was still prepping the meal, and berated them for ignoring my simple request. I didn’t want food, I just wanted to sleep, and why was I being ignored? I stamped back to my seat, someone came and fixed the recline feature, and I went grumpily to sleep.
Several hours later I woke up, considered everything, and felt like a total butt for having been so rude. I got up and went back to the service area. The staff members were sitting around and they looked alarmed when I opened the curtain.
I said, ‘I am so sorry I behaved so badly. I know that you were just doing your assigned work and I shouldn’t have been nasty to you. Please accept my apology.’
They all looked rather dumbfounded, but nodded agreement. I went back to my seat and queued up a movie.
A few minutes later, the male steward came to me, and asked with gestures if he could plug into my sound outlet.
I nodded, and he said, ‘I have had this job for more than 15 years, and no traveler who was rude to me ever apologized before tonight. It’s the same for all my fellow workers on this flight. Thank you for such classy behavior. We truly appreciate it.’
I said, ‘If I were truly classy, I wouldn’t have done that at all.’
He smiled and answered, ‘Maybe, but that was clearly just a moment’s lapse and you more than made up for it. Thanks again.’
Later, when we were deplaning, the crew members I had insulted all lined up to shake my hand.”
“Totally And Pleasantly Surprised”
“My only sister died this past July-I was on vacation and had to fly out immediately to get there in time to help with the funeral arrangements. I was barely able to find a flight out on that short notice because it was immediately after Independence Day in the USA. Having dealt with a highly uncooperative ticket agent, I was a bit frazzled when I walked onto the plane and a flight attendant in coach class immediately asked me if I was okay. I told her I was a bit frazzled and disoriented, having to process the death of my sister, which is why I was on her flight.
She told me she had been through that recently, herself, and understood. She asked me if there was anything she could do for me to make the trip easier. Before I could answer, she upgraded my seat assignment (along with my traveling companion) when she realized I was doing my best to endure a couple of screaming and crying toddlers, and notified the attendant in that upgraded class of my situation. She told me they would take good care of me, to try to get some sleep on the way, because she knew how exhausting that ordeal truly is, and then asked if she could give me a hug. I was totally and pleasantly surprised by her show of empathy and kindness. It was as if an angel had been sent to watch over me that long, exhausting, horrible day.”
“But Not Her”
“I was going to Southeast Asia for some business trip. During transit in Abu Dhabi, I remember I had pretty bad jet lag and I felt tired as heck, I almost passed out several times. But since it was a very important business trip I decided to go on and board the plane. As I recall when I boarded the aircraft, I felt this particular flight-attendant notice something wrong with me. She decided to follow me to my seat, help me with my carry-on luggage and put me in an aisle seat (rather than window-seat which I was assigned on). At that time I knew, she realized something was wrong with me.
Afterward, I fell asleep instantly and I missed my first meal. In the middle of the flight (three or four hours from take-off), she tried to wake me up several times. She wanted me at least to eat something (since I didn’t eat nor drink anything since boarding the plane) she was pretty concerned with my condition. I kept refusing her (I’m still 25% awake 75% asleep, I even didn’t realize that the one who offered me to eat was the same lady). This is the one that sticks to me until now. Maybe most flight attendants out there will go away and let me back to sleep. But not her.
The next thing she did was she grabbed some meal and beverage from the galley, and then starts to feed me with a spoon and straw. Even she kept checking my condition once for every hour before landing. When the plane landed, and the passenger starts to deboarding the plane, I tried to find her to say thank you. But I never found her, her colleagues said that she’s been transferred into another flight.”
“Did Everything In His Power To Help”
“I was flying from Israel to Miami through Frankfurt with my five young children, our destination being Orlando; it was Hanuka and a few days before Christmas . Our first flight at 6 a.m. was delayed by security, and our plane circled Frankfurt for over 15 minutes waiting to land.
We knew our connecting flight was leaving from the same terminal, but after a 10-minute mad sprint to the departure gate we found it closed. My husband joined the line to check out options while I entertained the kids. After an hour he managed to get us on a flight to Philadelphia (my childhood town) with a domestic connection to Orlando, but our seats would be scattered all over the plane.
Four hours later, we boarded and prepared to be spending the nine-hour flight in constant run checking on the kids spread out over 30 rows, all middle seats with strangers.
Things were further complicated as one of the older children is special needs, and needed the closest seat. We also keep kosher, preventing us being able to eat the standard meals — our preordered kosher ones were on the flight to Miami, and our backup food had been forgotten on the first flight in the rush. All I found in FRA was chocolate which the kids had for lunch — no good for their hyperactivity.
Then first class steward, G. Needlmayer, came by. His section was nearly empty and he asked the kids who they were flying with. When they pointed to mom five rows back he came over.
After assessing our situation, he promptly did everything in his power to help. He brought me everything the plane had to check if my kids could have it. We found fresh fruit, plain yogurt, cream crackers, salted nuts, milk and chocolate. Then he supervised two of the children who were closer to his section (we couldn’t see them from our seats).He chatted with them and gave them that little extra attention they needed to feel secure. He also found time to chat with me. It turned out we had grown up in the same neighborhood, gone to neighboring parochial schools, had played in the same playground and cheered the same Little League teams. And recalled some ups and downs of our inter-communities relationship.
After nine exhausting hours we landed; we wished him Merry Christmas and he wished us all Happy Hanuka and we parted.
I wrote to the airline commending his kindness and attention to details.
Made our stressed holiday mess into an special experience.”
“She Demanded To See My Pass”
“Just over twenty years ago, I sprained my ankle at work, so I had to have it immobilized for a couple of weeks in a cast.
It happened on the first days of December, so it was by the 22nd when the cast went off, and I had an airplane ticket for the 23rd, to come to my parents’ home for Christmas.
Got to the airline counter in crutches and immediately they get me a wheelchair and an agent to take me all the way to the airplane; Mexico City’s airport has very long corridors.
While I was at the counter, there was a big, loud woman over there, chatting with the employees and saying at last she was able to go on vacation and using her company passes to fly, so she was arranging her boarding passes and making sure she gets a seat. Guess she was an off-duty flight attendant. My Father worked for several years for as one, so I was familiar with the situation.
Long story short, we get to the plane and because I was on a wheelchair, I get to board first. The kind flight attendants on the flight decided I would be more comfortable if seated on a bulkhead seat instead of row 15 that was my assigned seat, as the wheelchair does not fit on the airplane aisle. So I made my way on crutches to seat 1A, with plenty of leg space in front of me, a beverage on my hand and my crutches taken away from me and stowed elsewhere.
Along comes the big woman I saw earlier on the counter, laughing and joking with everybody as she makes her way, carry on bags and all, on to my plane. My flight attendant got distracted with something and the big woman comes aboard, looks at me, and with fire in her voice and eyes, orders me to get out of her seat.
I start to explain that it was the senior flight attendant that assigned me that seat, she cuts me mid phrase and says ‘I don’t care if your mama gave you that seat. That is my seat and you should get out. I work for this airline and I know this is my seat!’
She demands to see my boarding pass.
So, I try to get up, trying not to step on my sprained and tender ankle and ring the attendant call button.
She shouts ‘What do you need an attendant for? Move out!’
All I say is, ‘I need her to get my crutches, she has them.’
By this time, the senior flight attendant is already aware of the situation and is coming over, recognizing the off duty attendant and saying ‘Ah, you’re flying with your discount, so the seat is unassigned, so we gave it to this kind paying customer who needs it for comfort for his injured leg.’
She said this in a kind, almost tender way, reciting it as a sentence one teacher would give a student in order for the student to understand every word. She gestured me to sit down again and ushered away the non rev who was still eyeing me as the cause of all evil on earth.
She was seated three rows behind on an empty row and sometime during the flight I saw the senior attendant go sit with her and have a talk. She went out the plane as soon as the door opened at our destination not even looking at me.
Guess the first day of her vacation was ruined by a young man in crutches.”