First Class Flight Attendants Share Intimate Secrets of the Rich and Famous

Flight attendants see a lot. And if you’re a frequent flyer, you might wonder what kinds of things flight attendants experience. Well, we’ve got some answers. One thing we discovered was that having a lot of money can sometimes get you big favors from the flight crew. We’ve also learned working in first class isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
Here are some secrets (including a shocking one on page 5) from first-class flight attendants and wealthy travelers.

Some flight attendants don’t like working with first-class passengers

Executive jet stewardess bringing the cup of coffee to the passenger
First-class passengers aren’t always pleasant. | OSchaumann/iStock/Getty Images

You might think most flight attendants would jump at the chance to work in first class, but that’s not always the case. Believe it or not, some flight attendants would rather work economy than first class. This is because first-class passengers tend to be demanding, according to some flight attendants answering questions on Quora.
Said flight attendant Nuralia Mazlan on Quora: “My first airline was a full-service carrier and it’s stressful to be working in business and first class. All the extra work, the liaising with supervisory crews and flight deck crews, the entitled attitude of certain passengers. You’re always wondering who in your cabin is related to your CEO or royalty.”
Next: Not a big deal?

Depending on the carrier, first-class isn’t always a big deal

Stewards prepare drinks in the first class bar of Lufthansa aircraft.
It depends on the airline. | Bryan McManus/AFP/Getty Images

Have you been dreaming of flying first class? Are you filled with anger or envy whenever you walk by first-class passengers on the way to your economy seat? It might make you feel better to know that not all first-class flights are created equal.
A commenter in Reddit’s travel forum said the quality of a first-class flight depends a lot on the carrier. The commenter, who goes by the name TheRealDTrump said, “Depends on the plane. Sometimes first class really is travelling in luxury (look up the Etihad A380 first-class flight) but sometimes it’s pretty much the same as the economy with slightly better service.”
Next: Even wealthy people like to save cash.

In some situations, passengers who can afford first-class choose business or economy

toasting with champagne business class airplane cabin
Not everyone upgrades, even when they can. | Tuned_In/iStock/Getty Images

You might think wealthy customers will take first class no matter what, but that isn’t always true. Even the wealthy look for ways to save money when it makes sense. Some well-to-do flyers take things like the length of time spent on the flight into consideration. If it’s a short flight, some will just book economy and save their hard-earned cash. Reddit user Traveltheworld3210 had this to say:

As someone who travels frequently, I’m personally going to say it ultimately depends on the length of the trip, the airline, and which airport you’re flying to and from.
For flights under four hours or so, it really isn’t worth the price. Most airlines in the US won’t serve a full meal on flights under three hours. For transcontinental/international flights however, it’s definitely nice to have the bigger seat, more leg room, and have all your food/alcoholic drinks included. Spending less time waiting to board/disband after landing is also a major plus.

Next: You’re not fooling anyone.

Flight attendants can tell who is wealthy and who just got a lucky break

An Air France attendant shows off the airline's "haute couture" suite featuring a seat that reclines into a bed
They know who is who. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

Some flight attendants can tell who is affluent and who isn’t. Don’t assume everyone who takes a first-class flight is well-to-do. Some pay the full fare while other passengers are upgraded or use airline miles. A flight attendant on Quora said she can tell who paid for a first-class or business-class seat in full and who got their seat by luck or the help of airline miles.

I know who paid for their first- or business-class seat … everyone else is an upgrade, or an employee. But the information is buried so far down in my paperwork that I rarely look. And it does not affect how I treat someone. Full fare or upgrade — you’re all the same to me.

Next: This one is a shocker.

Some passengers pay for sex with flight attendants

Stewardess talking to passenger
Yikes. | Ruben Ramos/iStock/Getty Images

Apparently, quite a few flight attendants are members of the mile-high club. Some wealthy passengers pay flight attendants for sex. A former flight attendant told The Sun, a UK newspaper, she knew of two colleagues who were making money by engaging in sexual acts with first-class and business-class passengers. She revealed one of the women was fired. Her dirty little secret was revealed after she forgot to tell her “clients” she changed hotel rooms, and they were asking around for her.
Next: If you fly with this airline, you can avoid other passengers.

On this airline first-class passengers don’t have to see anyone

Emirates First Class Travel
These passengers get their own little pods. | Emirates via Instagram

Does the mere sight of other passengers make you cringe? Then this airline might be for you. If you’re thinking of flying first class, some airlines are better than others. When you fly first class with Emirates, you don’t even have to see other people during your trip. During the 2017 Dubai Airshow, Emirates unveiled first-class suites that are fully closed. The suites have sliding doors that reach the cabin ceiling.
Next: How to fly first class.

How you can upgrade to first class

customers eating and drinking in aeroplane
Some can get an upgrade without paying. | Stockbyte/Getty Images

A fat bank account isn’t always a requirement to fly first class. If you play your cards right, you can enjoy a premium flight experience without busting your budget. Some of the ways you can score an upgrade to first class are by being loyal to one airline, traveling during slow times, and booking through the airline’s website. If you make a request for an upgrade in person, it also doesn’t hurt to look nice. Make sure you dress the part.

A personal decision

Seats of the first class section on ANA airlines
It may make sense for certain travelers. | Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

At the end of the day, choosing to fly first class is up to you (if you can afford it, that is). One commenter in Reddit’s travel forum said choosing first class might make sense if you have certain health issues or just don’t want to sit too close to a stranger. Said Redditor tokyorevelation9: “Some are really worth it, and some are not. It also depends on whether being in a first- or business-class seat would really help you enjoy your trip more. For example, if you have leg or back issues or if you don’t tolerate being in close proximity with other people for an extended period.”
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