Beyond Steven Slater: 6 acts of flight-attendant revenge

Flight attendants have their own way of dealing with unruly passengers — without freaking out like JetBlue's Steven Slater

As it turns out, not all flight attendants are content to wait on your every need.
(Image credit: Corbis)

After an altercation with an angry passenger on his JetBlue flight, Steven Slater took dramatic measures — and became an overnight sensation. Other flight attendants, it turns out, have their own, more subtle ways of dealing with unruly or difficult passengers, without causing havoc like the chute-popping, beer-swiping Slater. Here's how they do it:

1. Coded hand gestures

Flight attendants "employ all sorts of unofficial methods and codes" to deal with difficult fliers, reports Emma Messenger at the Daily Mail. A "subtle wag of a finger" behind someone's head means that he's lecherous and may get handsy (or worse) with the staff. To alert colleagues that a passenger is drunk, attendants cross their fingers over the hospitality cart.

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2. High winds

At the end of a demanding flight, writes David Sedaris in The New Yorker, some attendants indulge in the peevish practice of "cropdusting" — silently passing wind as they walk down the aisle making their final checks. "Reclined in their seats, heads lolling to the side ... airplane passengers are prime fart targets," comments Maureen O'Connor at Gawker.

3. Dirty drinks

Ellen Simonette — author of Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog — reminisces in The New York Times about the time a colleague took revenge on a loudmouthed passenger by making him "a very special drink" in the privacy of the galley, rubbing the rim of his glass on the plane's "filthy floor" before serving it up with a "devious smile."

4. Abusing their powers

We've all seen the seat-belt sign light up in midflight, though there isn't a hint of turbulence. Blame your attendants, says the Daily Mail's Messenger, who often switch it on so they can "have a nice cup of tea and gossip in peace."

5. Starting a blog

Countless flight attendants vent about passengers by blogging anonymously. Dubai-based blogger Tampax Towers recently railed against fliers who hold up security lines by wearing metal-studded jeans, while, over at These Wings Talk, a catty account of an experience with a "One-Eyed Cyclops Passenger" makes for surprising reading.

6. Stripping off

A group of 9 former flight attendants from the bankrupt Spanish airline Comet Air sought revenge not on unruly passengers, but on unprincipled bosses who owed them nine months' pay. To draw public attention to their plight, they shed some of their clothing for a calendar's photographer. One even appeared completely naked on Spanish television to demand compensation. "I can't imagine they'll be out of a job for long," says Anna Nicholas at The Daily Telegraph.

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