• Mar 09, 2013

Is this person drunk?' What flight attendants are REALLY thinking when they greet you at the door of a plane

  • It turns out cabin crew are quietly analysing every passenger they greet
  • A veteran flight attendant she tries to identify those may cause problems
  • She also looks for travellers who may be able to help in an emergency

When flight attendants greet passengers at the door of a plane before a flight, they’re not just there to welcome people and direct them to their seats. It turns out they are quietly judging everyone who steps on board during encounters that last just seconds. That’s according to a veteran flight attendant who says closely she evaluates every passenger who sets foot on board to identify the ones who may pose a problem when the plane is at 35,000ft.

Gaea Peregrinor, a flight attendant for 25 years, wrote on Quora her objective is to make passengers feel welcome and leave them with the impression that cabin crew are approachable and competent. But when she’s exchanging pleasantries and checking boarding passes she’s also analysing every traveller to find out if they are intoxicated or ill, if they have a bad attitude or if they can even be helpful during an emergency.

She wrote: ‘Obviously, if someone appears to be intoxicated, we don't want them on the plane; the potential for future problems is too great. ‘Likewise, if someone boards the plane with hateful and nasty attitude toward the crew, that's a concern that needs to be addressed before departure. It's rare, but it has happened.’ Peregrinor said she also looks for passengers who have disabilities or injuries that may disqualify them from sitting in the exit row and tries to find out if anyone on board is an off-duty pilot or flight attendant who would be able to help in an emergency.

She also makes a mental note of the seat numbers of travellers who are muscular or physically fit. She wrote: ‘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.’Peregrinor said she has prevented ill passengers from flying and she has caught people trying to smuggle their pets on board in purses or handbags or their own booze in briefcases. She wrote: ‘Consider that air travel is fraught with inherent danger, made more so by the political and religious climate of the world today, one must be constantly alert and aware of one's situation.

‘So when I greet people, you better believe that I'm always very aware of each passenger who steps through the door of the aircraft.’