I'm former cabin crew and you've been using the call button all wrong!

It’s not a toy! I’m a former flight attendant and you’ve been using the call button… all wrong!

  • Jay Robert has worked as senior cabin crew for Emirates
  • He runs the popular Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge network 
  • Here he reveals the do’s and don’ts of using the call button during flights
  • READ MORE: Airline introduces zone where children are BANNED 

What’s a favourite topic for cabin crew?

The call button.

Partly because how it’s used varies so much. And depending to a large degree on geography – it goes from super strict in the West to super liberal in the East.

For example, in the North American market, they call it the ‘Emergency Flight Attendant Call Button’, implying you should only press it if you are having an emergency. I have seen flight attendants answer the call by asking what the emergency is.

So, in North America, my advice is don’t press it unless you absolutely need to or if you want to buy something, because then the crew doesn’t mind because they get a commission off what you are buying.

Former Emirates flight attendant Jay Robert reveals the do’s and don’ts of using the call button

On the other side, in places like India and Pakistan, they never stop pressing it. At my former airline, we would have pages of calls even before the plane took off. We would just clear them since there would be so many.

For most of the world, that button is referred to as just the call bell, and the cabin crew doesn’t tend to mind it being used for service requests as long as you don’t abuse it.

That being said, there are some tips you should keep in mind to stay on the good side of your flight attendants.

If you’re having a real emergency and need to get the crew’s attention, press that bell and keep pressing it until someone comes.

It’s common for the crew to ignore them or for it to take some time to respond, depending on how big the plane is and how many crew there are in the cabin. If the bell keeps sounding, we will know something is wrong and come ASAP.

Jay (above) runs the popular Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge network

For service-related requests, do not press it during busy times, for example, during boarding.

If you are thirsty and you just came from the airport, you could have gotten something from the terminal.

The crew is busy during this time trying to get the cabin seated and secured so you can make the departure time slot and get to your destination on time.

If you really need something to drink, walk to the galley and ask.

If the crew is in the cabin doing the meal service and you want something, pressing the call button at this time is highly annoying because they’re trying to feed up to 600 people at one time, and they will be with you shortly, so be patient.

When you press the bell, ask for everything at once!

Nothing annoys the crew more than ping pong requests: asking for one thing, and we bring it, and then you ask for something else.

Those cabins are long, and there are others who need something. Respect the crew’s time and energy.

And don’t ring the bell for stupid requests such as for a tissue to blow your nose. I’ve had passengers literally feet away from the washrooms ring the bell to ask for a tissue.

Parents, meanwhile, should note that it’s not a toy and should pay attention to make sure their kids don’t find the button. Once the little traveller knows it makes a sound, they like to press, and press, and press it. This distracts the crew from doing important tasks – we might think it’s an emergency.

Finally, remember that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your circulation and health. If you need something, it’s best for you and your crew to get up, stretch your legs, and walk to the galley to ask for what you need.

Jay has worked as senior cabin crew for Emirates. For more from him, visit www.instagram.com/aflyguytravels and www.facebook.com/aflyguyslounge.

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