BONKING on Boeings, dealing with an in-flight death and playing passenger “hot or not” – there is more to being an airline attendant than just asking if people want tea or coffee.
Here, James Ellis brings you some cabin crew tales from down the years . . .
AT the end of last year, a British Airways cabin crew member revealed she was selling sex between flights and offering passengers the chance to join the exclusive Mile High Club by romping with them on a plane.
The saucy stewardess, who goes by Facebook name AirHostess71, caused a bit of a fuss with her sexy online snaps — but it is nothing compared to what the frisky French get up to across the Channel.
Passengers on Air France offshoot Transavia might have thought they were going through a spot of turbulence back in 2016 when asked to put on their seatbelts.
In fact, one of their female flight attendants was up in the cockpit getting jiggy with the pilot’s joystick.
The then 46-year-old mum-of-four is said to have recorded multiple aerial exploits in a video diary — and was only rumbled when her pilot husband found the tapes and passed them on to the authorities in a jealous rage.
But while you might think it is the crew reaching new heights of debauchery, more often than not they are trying to rein in the passengers.
Natalie Smith, who worked as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic, decided to spill the beans about her three-year stint flying the flag for Sir Richard Branson.
She told Compare Travel Insurance she once had to help restrain two first-class flyers who were determined to get it on at 35,000ft and did not even have the decency to hide in the loos.
She recalls: “We played good cop, good cop — trying to reason with them. But eventually the crew resorted to sitting between them for the rest of the flight.”
Celebrities are at it, too, it seems. In an article in Cosmopolitan magazine, one flight attendant recalled how a Hollywood hunk headed to the bathroom with his female “manager” and kept hitting the call button with his bum while the rest of first-class were trying to get some shut-eye.
The same Cosmo article told how an air marshal was trying to pack more than his pistol on one flight. Supposedly on the plane to protect passengers after 9/11, he repeatedly hassled a female crew member for sex.
“It’s not like your husband is here,” he said to her in a final attempt to bed her on board. “Actually, he’s the pilot,” she shot back, before the marshal beat a retreat to his seat.
These days, flight attendants often spend much of their time in the air flogging scratchcards or dealing with drunks, but there was a time when it was seen as one of the most glamorous professions for those who could physically match what airlines were looking for.
In the early 1960s, considered the golden era of air travel, now defunct US airline Pan Am had stringent criteria that today seem totally outdated — female crew had to be at least 5ft 2in and weigh no more than 9st. They also had to retire at 32, and have no children.
These days the demands are different, with reports claiming American Airlines simply advises that they have no noticeable hair in their nostrils, ears and under-arms — and have a full set of front teeth.
Some cabin crew allegedly use secret signals to communicate with each other so passengers do not know what they are saying.
Former crew member Heather Poole reveals the lengths crew will go to in her book Cruising Attitude: Tales Of Crashpads, Crew Drama And Crazy Passengers At 35,000 Feet.
The airline she worked for let female crew shorten the hems of their skirts once they had passed probation. It also allowed pilots and fellow crew to know which ones were newbies and potentially more open to amorous advances.
Indeed, if it seems like cabin crew get all the attention from passengers, the attraction can definitely be mutual.
One respondent to a survey by saucydates.com boasted: “I over-heard the stewardess talking to her friend, telling her she had broken up with her boyfriend and hadn’t had sex in a long time. I hit on her and she finally asked me if I wanted to go in the bathroom and have sex.”
On TripAdvisor thread “confessions of a cabin crew”, it is claimed flight attendants often pass the time between rounds of duty by grading passengers in order of their looks.
If you hear one of them calling you by the name “Bob”, you may just have been awarded “best on board” status.
Of course, flight attendants also play important roles in maintaining safety and keeping people calm in emergencies.
But a crew thread on Reddit sees one user saying: “When people ask for the reason for a delay, we usually give a bulls**t response because the real answer would spook passengers.
“We say, ‘We have a minor technical problem and engineers are on their way’. But in reality? The cabin pressure isn’t working.”
Indeed, crew have to deal with all manner of issues in the air — one of the most challenging being what to do when someone dies during a flight.
According to one BA trainer on the BBC TV series A Very British Airline, they will often try to leave the deceased passenger in their seat or move them to first class if there is more space — but it was not always that way.
She says: “Many years ago we used to give them a vodka and tonic, a paper and eye shades, and tell other passengers that they were fine.”
One of a crew’s biggest challenges is dealing with unruly passengers — and in 2008, 13 Virgin staff were sacked for calling their customers “chavs” in a series of social media posts.
That opinion might not have changed too much, according to Facebook page Flight Attendant Career Connection, which lists the following as the main gripes of crew: Taking for ever to decide what to drink, leaving rubbish in the seat pocket, keeping head-phones on while ordering, walking barefoot around the plane, and hanging out in and around the galley.
One of the more disgusting tales comes from the Cosmopolitan story. One crew member reports: “I had a passenger who bit off his toenails, making a small clippings pile on the seat console.
“When he asked me to throw them out, my face wrinkled up so bad that I think he knew he was way out of line.”
It makes bonking in the loo seem quite civilised.
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