Long-haul flights are inherently high-risk journeys, and not just because you’re travelling in a giant metal flying machine over 30 000 feet in the air

While flight attendants might evaluate how you’re dressed to see whether you may be a suitable candidate for an upgrade, or they might even eye your carry-on luggage to check you’re not over the size and weight limits, their main objective is to ensure all passengers’ safety.

“We recommend that all our clients research and follow their chosen airline’s travel rules and regulations for their own safety, and so they can successfully reach their destinations on time,” advises UK immigration company, Move Up.

A Quora thread that asks, “What do flight attendants notice about passengers as they board the plane?” gave us insight into exactly what they’re looking for.

1. They check to see if you’re drunk

One of the reasons flight attendants ask to see your boarding pass as you enter the plane is to check if you’ve had one too many! The way you interact with them gives flight attendants an opportunity to quickly evaluate your state of mind. According to a cabin attendant with 30 years’ experience working for Lufthansa, drunk passengers may be denied entry on board the aircraft.

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Flight attendants are trained to identify signs of inebriation and to act immediately during boarding procedures: if someone appears to be intoxicated, the potential for future problems is too great, which is why they are prevented from settling on the plane.

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2. They check to see if you work out

Flight attendants make a point of looking for passengers who are muscular, powerful, strong or physically fit and make a mental note of where they are sitting.

“I consider this person a resource for me. In the event of an attack on the flight or on me, these are my ‘go-to’ people. If a situation looks like it could develop, I’ll privately and discreetly ask one of these people if they would be willing to help us if necessary. Help might involve subduing or restraining an unruly passenger. We hope it never happens, but we will prepare just in case it does,” says Janice Bridger, a flight attendant of 27 years.

3. They check to see if you are an airline employee

Sometimes flights include passengers who are also airline employees. They can choose to make themselves known by boarding with chocolates. Bridger says that she tries to learn if there are any passengers employed by the airline – particularly crew members who have received training in in-flight procedures.

She adds, “They’ve been trained in what to do in an emergency, whether medical, mechanical, etc. They know how to handle the situations as well as I, and are trained to become an instant ‘team member’, fitting right in immediately if needed. They are an invaluable resource for me, and I like to know who they are and where they’re sitting.”

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4. They check to see if you’re unwell, angry or scared

Flight attendants look for signs of passengers who are drugged, sick, angry or afraid.

Myriam Mimi, a flight attendant since 1994, says, “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.”

5. They check to see if anyone looks nervous

Bridger says that flight attendants keep an eye out for anyone who might be afraid of flying, “and need a word of comfort and encouragement.”

6. They check for disabilities

According to Bridger, “I watch for disabilities that may disqualify someone from sitting in the exit row.  They need to be able to physically lift a heavy hatch (up to 30 kilogrammes) or open a heavy door (several hundred kilogrammes).”

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7. They look for signs of illegal activity

“I’ve had people try to smuggle pets in their purses or handbags, bottles of booze in their briefcases. Booze is allowed as long as it stays capped. You just can’t drink your own liquor on the plane,” says Bridger.

“So yes, I need to be vigilant and aware, all behind my ‘greeting face’ of smile and pleasant, comforting welcome!”

She adds “When you consider that I have approximately three to four seconds to make that passenger feel welcomed and comfortable, and then also assess them for all of the potential that they bring with them onto the plane… well, it can require a lot of focus.”


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Move Up now offers an international and local flight booking facility along with their full complement of UK visa offerings, in order to help their clients’ travel experience even more efficient.

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