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Flight attendants confess: We’re nicer to well-dressed passengers

Next time you step on a plane, don't let the flight attendants' pearly smiles fool you.

Deep down inside, those men and women in crisp shirts and perky neck scarves are bracing themselves for the irritations that you, dear traveller, unwittingly represent. (Their biggest pet peeve: Passengers who hog the aisle to reorganize their stuff, oblivious to the bottleneck stretching to the front of the plane.)

Fortunately, they have tricks up their sleeves to keep you from getting on their nerves. Here are a few, submitted by anonymous flight attendants and compiled by George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com, for Fox News:

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1. Serve weak drinks to the boozers in business class. "If they order a mixed drink, we will dip the rim of their glass in the liquor but fill most of the glass with mixer to weaken the drink. Most of the time, they don't notice. If they order wine or beer, we fill it only half way and don't provide the can of beer."

2. Watch what passengers are doing on their laptops and iPads. "Most of the time it is boring business work, but I have caught people looking at pornography before. … I never interfere unless it is disturbing other passengers."

3. Pull down the window shades during long flights. "We try to keep window shades closed on long flights because it helps people to fall asleep … giving us more time to rest."

4. Be extra nice to well-dressed customers. "You just know that the suit-and-tie traveller probably paid more for their ticket than the flip-flop-and-shorts-wearing flyer. Courtesy is important to all passengers, but our airline would not be flying were it not for the premium travellers who subsidize the leisure travellers' low fares."

Clearly, flight attendants are not frequenting the same airports as American commentator Froma Harrop, who describes "a nation of slobs parad[ing] through the crossroads of America," and adds, "the richer this country gets, the more slovenly people have become."

Do you have any tips of your own for dealing with flight crew?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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