AS FLIGHT attendants we get given a lot of gifts from passengers, and it’s very flattering, but we know that you’re mostly only doing it because you want something in return.
The truth is, some gifts will get you an upgrade, but you have to put the effort in – we can’t move everyone up to first because they gave us a small bag of chocolates.
In the latest edition of my weekly blog for Sun Online Travel, I will explain exactly which gifts you ought to be getting flight attendants and how to improve your chances of getting bumped up.
Firstly, we really do appreciate the thought every time, but some gifts just aren’t great, especially ones we can’t share or probably don’t care about.
One Toblerone from duty free isn’t going to go far among the cabin crew – and we all know where you’ve got it from. You need to try harder.
If you’re going to give us snacks, we’d actually prefer something a little nicer than chocolate, and probably a bit more nutritious as well.
We spend a lot of time in airports where the food is mostly bad, so if you can bring us something we don’t often have the opportunity to eat, we’d be really grateful.
But if you do insist on giving us chocolate, make sure we can all enjoy it.
I remember once being given three Ferrero Rocher, which was clearly an afterthought from a hopeful passenger.
There are loads of us on board the plane and none of us want to feel left out, so try and treat us all rather than just one or two of us.
Another thing you shouldn’t do is hang around after giving us your gifts because the more you expect something from us, the less likely you are to get an upgrade.
For instance, we get people coming up to us with their gifts all the time, we’ll thank them, then they’ll stand there, waiting, as if we haven’t realised that we need to give them something in return.
We know what you’re doing and it’s not a good look. Be gracious, explain why you’re giving us the gift, let us check your boarding pass and go and sit in your seat.
If the circumstances are right, then you could easily get a bump up to business class, but if not, just be happy that you did a nice thing for us and enjoy the flight.
We can’t give everyone who gets us a gift an upgrade, it just wouldn’t be possible and there’s not always the opportunity to do it.
We might have no seats left at the front of the plane, or you might not have given your gifts to someone with the authority to hand out upgrades – not all of us do.
The first time I flew with my staff travel, I just assumed I would be automatically upgraded because I worked for the airline, but I ended up sat on the very last row. It doesn’t always work out.
So never give us gifts with the expectation that you will be upgraded – just do it because it’s a nice thing to do and know that it won’t harm your chances.
Also, just because we can’t put your in a better seat, doesn’t mean we can’t treat you well. We can hand out gifts like champagne, or some of the wash bags we have in first class.
Sitting in first isn’t always about the seat, it’s the experience and everything else that comes with it.
We can give you that while you’re in economy and we are more likely to if you’re thoughtful.
Which brings me onto my final point – the best gifts to get for your flight crew are vouchers.
Cash feels a little too on the nose and we’re not that comfortable about accepting it, so vouchers feels like a happy medium.
We can divide them between us, we can use them in a way we want to and it shows that you’ve thought about it before arriving at the terminal.
The best passenger we’ve ever had gave us a load of Nandos gift vouchers and it went down a storm.
That person definitely ended up in first class that day.
It may seem excessive to have to do that, but check out the price difference between an economy seat and first class. It’s much more than a few restaurant vouchers, so it is worth it.
And if it comes down to a toss-up between the person who bought us a meal, or the person who gave us a few sweets from their bag, I know who will be getting the first class meal service on that flight.
Meanwhile this frequent flyer revealed their method for getting upgrades on planes.
And this flight attendant explained how to improve your chances of sitting in first class.