The latest buzz to hit social media recently came from a tweet that Malaysian celebrity Nur Fathia Latiff had made regarding the service she received during a recent MAS flight she took.
According to her tweet that has since been deleted, Nur Fathia Latiff uploaded a photo of a flight attendant with a post saying that the staff had refused to help her with her hand carry luggage as she was experiencing backache problems.
This spurred the celebrity to express her rage, citing that if the flight attendant was too ill to work, maybe she needn't come to work at all.
This fuelled a lot of backlash as a lot of netizens then responded by saying that she should educate herself regarding the duties of an air steward.
According to the airline's policy in observing Occupational, Safety and Health Regulation requirements, cabin crew are not required to stow passenger's hand luggage into the overhead compartment.
This was just a bit of a reminder on how not many may be aware of what exactly are the responsibilities of a flight attendant.
From this incident, we decided to investigate further by interviewing a flight attendant who wishes to remain anonymous on what other things you may not have known about the cabin crew and flying.
1) They can stop you from bringing in your overweight hand luggage.
Many may think that the 7kg limit airlines set for the weight of a hand luggage is for giggles but it is actually a serious matter.
In fact, flight attendants are even allowed to stop you from bringing in your overweight hand luggage and you are not allowed to argue against them.
Normally passengers tend to think that once they've passed security, they're good to go. But flight attendants are quite vigilant and they naturally keep an eye on the luggages brought in by passengers.
What happens if you're caught bringing in overweight luggage is that the flight attendant will get you seated first and stow away the bag in another area temporarily before making sure the other passengers are seated.
Once everyone has been seated, the flight attendant will then get said passenger's boarding pass and tag the bag before transferring it into cargo.
They're even nice enough to not charge you with a fee for that unless you go overboard so don't push your luck too much.
2) They are not obliged to give you water for free.
Airlines with higher cost usually give water as a complimentary service but the lower-cost airlines will actually charge you for water. So don't be too surprised when you're suddenly required to pay for a bottle of water. It's part of their company policy which flight attendants have no control over.
However, one thing to be thankful for is that most flight attendants are not calculative over plain water so if you request for it nicely, especially those in dire need of it for medication and such, they would give a cup to you happily. But remember, it is not an obligation. Think of it as a favour.
3) They have a rough time of 25 minutes to get everyone seated for take off.
If you wonder why sometimes the flight attendant is rushing you to your seat and even asking you to stop disrupting the others by taking your time in finding your seat number, it's because they run on a time limit.
Approximately, the flight attendants are given 25 minutes or less to make sure the passengers are all seated, buckled down with seatbelts, with the seats are all positioned upright and all electronic devices turned off. Then they would need to proceed with the regular safety demonstration.
So it's best to excuse them if they do come off across as pushy when ushering you to take a seat. It's not that they're impatient, they have a clock ticking above their heads.
4) If there is any form of disruption during emergencies, they are allowed to physically move you.
When it comes to urgent times of an emergency that requires prompt evacuation, flight attendants are allowed to physically usher you to safety.
Of course one of their priorities is always the safety of the passengers. In times of emergencies, flight attendants have a time limit of 90 seconds to make sure an average of 200 passengers have safely evacuated the plane.
So if you're reacting a bit too slow for them, it's completely fine for them to give you a bit of a push. It is no way meant to be a form of harassment or invading of personal space. It's more that they're trying to save your lives.
5) They are allowed to call you off the plane if you verbally assault them.
Some passengers can go overboard when it comes to the way they speak to flight attendants, especially those who choose to use colourful language when dealing with them.
So in cases like these, flight attendants actually have a right to inform the pilot that there is a disruptive passenger on board and that he or she may be harmful in other matters. Then, security can come on board and escort you out of the plane.
This applies for all passengers no matter age, race and gender. Once you're caught responding rudely, they have to power to kick you off the flight. No arguments.
6) They have a reason when telling you to turn off your phone.
Of course, standard procedure on being onboard of any plane is that you are required to switch your phone into flight mode but there may be some flight attendants who may ask you to switch off your phone entirely. If they pester you too much about it, don't scold them just yet.
This is because that no matter what, as long as your phone is turned on, there is still some radiation involved which could potentially harm the flight process. So to be safe, flight attendants request for you to turn it completely off for the critical moments during a flight such as during take off and landing.
They're never reminding you to deliberately annoy you, it's just part of their job.
7) They can't just simply change your seats.
If you're not particularly happy about your seat and wish to change it, there is one big factor that a flight attendant needs to consider before they allow it.
One of them is weight. If the flight attendant finds out that there is a sense of imbalance between each side, then they may decide not to give you the option to switch.
Another factor could be size. Due to wanting to accommodate every passenger, they do need to take into consideration the comfort of everyone and ensure that every passenger has adequate space.
So best to just choose the seat you want during your initial booking rather than asking for it on the flight.
8) No, you are not allowed to request to see the cockpit.
After 9/11, changes were made to the security of cockpits in an effort to make hijackings more difficult. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, doors should typically be tough enough to withstand a grenade blast and they are usually left locked throughout the flight.
Which also means that no one is allowed to make requests to see the inside of a cockpit anymore. It was previously allowed on certain requests but they have tightened the security since then. Even pilots that are off-duty who happen to be passengers will not be allowed access into the cockpit.
Yes, that means you have no chance of getting that cockpit selfie.
9) They are not obliged to follow any script.
Imagine being stuck on a plane for almost an entire day doing the same routine in a robotic manner? It can get draining for anyone.
So flight attendants are allowed a bit of leeway when it comes to giving announcements as they are not obligated to say things according to a script. They may have a guideline on what they must inform passengers about but they can choose to say it in their own style as long as it's appropriate.
You can also request for special announcements such as birthday wishes, anniversary wishes, marriage proposals and even certain accents. That's when you get proper in-flight entertainment.
10) They are required to be proper when in uniform at all times.
You know those moments when you take a glance at a flight attendant but you can never seem to catch them out of their element?
That's because they're required to constantly be in a 'deportment' state whilst donning their uniform. In fact, there are rules within the airline companies that state their flight attendants are not even allowed to take photos with inappropriate gestures while in uniform as it may reflect badly on the company as a whole.
Should a flight attendant act out of etiquette, they could face potential penalties by the airline.
So those are some facts about the general jobscope of a flight attendant.
The perception that they are being paid to serve you needs to fade away because yes, they are required to provide the in-flight services promised by the airlines but that does not equate to them also being your personal butler.
They're there to ensure your safety till you reach your destination, not serve you tea all the time.