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Flying tips you wish you knew: flight attendants give us the inside scoop

Flight attendants give us a backstage pass into the galley of aircrafts 

Image credit: Jance Roets
Can you trust plane food? Why do you always have to close the blinds when you’re about to land? What’s up with turbulence?
These are just some of the many unanswered questions passengers have when they’re on a flight.

To get the answers, Wayfare Culture spoke to Jess van Rensburg who was a flight attendant for an international airline for a year and a half and Jance Roets who was part of the cabin crew for an international airline for two years.

The food’s okay… sort of
Image credit: Getty Images
This got mixed reviews. Jess said, "order what you think you might enjoy. It's all very sanitary and kept very well.”
But Jance had a slightly different opinion: “I’ll always go for the veggie option. I'm not vegetarian, but it's just always the safest option. Because let's face it, it is a risky atmosphere - if you're flying for 16 hours the food has been there for quite a while."

But don’t drink the hot water
Image credit: RODNAE Productions via Pexels

What Jess was firm on is staying away from any hot beverages they serve on-flight.
“What I would say though, is something that's really gross is the tea and coffee. The water that's on the aircraft… the pipes are never cleaned. Like we clean the external part, but the aircrafts go from flight to flight and they're never cleaned.
"So the hot water is NASTY. Even as cabin crew, I would take my own bottled water, or use the boiler if there was one or go to business class and use theirs.”

Don’t use the call bell
Image credit: Halfdark via Getty Images
When asked about how to get on a cabin crew’s good side, both Jess and Jance said to avoid the call bell.
“It's not actually what you say, it's what you do,” said Jance.
“I know the call bell is awesome but we hate it when someone presses it, like you're immediately in a bad mood, I don’t know what it is. If you want something come to the back galley and ask us, we will give you EVERYTHING we can give you, I promise. We just don’t like running around, who likes running? I mean come on."
Jess agrees, saying, “I don’t think people realise you can get up and go ask at the back – which is also good for passengers' circulation."
You won’t die from turbulence
Image credit: Canva
"I wish I knew how turbulence worked,” said Jance, laughing.
"People are so scared of it but that's like such a safe spot. You can’t fall to the ground during turbulence, you're part of the wind, and wind never goes down to the ground.
“So you can feel so safe during turbulence. The most unsafe thing that can happen during turbulence is what happens in the aircraft (like if luggage falls), but you'll never go down.”

Don’t ignore the safety procedures – you only have 90 seconds to get out
Image credit: Shamia Casiano via Pexels
“A big thing that's frustrates crew, is having to ask people to put their seat upright or pull  their window blind up when they've just heard the announcement to do it,” says Jess.
The reason the cabin crew constantly tells passengers to do these things is actually for their own safety.
“Your window blind goes up so your eyes don't have to adjust to the outside lighting, incase of an emergency landing, and also because you are acting as a safety measure, with your eyes outside the aircraft - if you see something on the wing or if it's on fire, you're going to let someone know.”
Wait, so the reason we have to put it up is to act as extra eyes for the plane???
Jess explained that the reason the crew asks you to put your tray table up, put your bag under the seat in front of you (not between your legs) and put your seat upright is so you (and the person behind you) can escape the aircraft as quickly as possible during an emergency evacuation.
As part of an aircraft’s certification process, an aircraft must to be able to be fully evacuated within 90 seconds.

The best bags to take if you’re a frequent flierInner City crossover bag. Image credit: Wayfare Culture
“Obviously I travel a lot, I travel with my trolley bag if I need to, otherwise I just have a backpack and then I have a small sling bag that I carry in front of me, that has the essentials,” said Jess.
In her sling bag, Jess carries her passport, money, phone and a pen, “all the essentials that are easily accessible and I can keep next to me on my seat. That would be my number one recommendation.”
This crossover bag, pictured above, would be perfect for your essentials when flying.
For her backpack, Jess says:
“Always carry Dettol wipes and sanitiser - whether it's covid or not, it’s something I've always done. Wipe down your seat. They do get cleaned, but not as thoroughly as you would like to think.”

Best place they've ever visitedJess in Djibouti. Image Credit: Jess van Rensberg
Jess has operated 166 flights and visited countless countries, but said one of her all-time favourite places to travel to is Djibouti, a country in East Africa.  
"A place I really enjoyed was Djibouti," said Jess, "it's interesting, you can go diving with whale sharks, it's really beautiful and in the middle of nowhere."

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