How to get what you want while traveling: Advice from flight attendants

As it turns out, there IS an effective way to complain

Do you know how to best work with flight attendants? (Pexels stock image)

Are you thinking about travel plans for the remainder of 2022, or even into 2023? You’re likely not alone. It seems like many people are daydreaming about that next big trip or family vacation.

Trips often mean flying, and when it comes to air travel, you’ll definitely catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as the old saying goes -- meaning, in simple terms, it pays to be nice.

There are ways to navigate a difficult situation and actually come out on top, if you go about it the right way.

Conde Nast Traveler cobbled together several tips from flight attendants on how to broach some specific issues when you’re stuck in an airport or on the tarmac.

Let’s say ...

You need to talk to someone.

And let’s imagine that person is a flight attendant, for example -- it helps to remember his or her name. Actually, this is a case that’s probably a bit universal: If you’re dealing with anyone in customer service, or even just the host taking your name down for a restaurant reservation, it’s nice to repeat back his or her name. It shows that you care and that you were paying attention.

And if you’re having an issue on a flight, for instance, you’re kind of at the mercy of the attendants. It’s you who’s in need. Remember that, and ask for help, rather than demanding it. Asking can switch on the compassionate side in someone else, an expert told Conde Nast. And if that employee empathizes with you, he or she will be more likely to assist you. So use that name, activate your manners and hopefully, your issue can get resolved without much drama.

And if you have a complaint …

Ask where you should direct your complaint, rather than just spewing it at whoever’s nearest to you, the CNT story said.

Whatever went wrong might not be the gate agent’s fault, for example. File a complaint online, try mentioning the airline on Twitter, or even fill out a survey on the company’s website. If you’re trying to talk to someone right away, in person, then it’s best to request a supervisor, but keep your conversation brief and to the point. Keep the irrelevant details out of it, and think about how this person could reasonably help you today.

Your bag is lost.

Start with a smile, no matter how frustrated you might be right about now, CNT advised. The customer service representative will mirror back to you what you show to him or her, so realize that it wasn’t that person’s fault, and that these things happen from time to time.

The article recommended saying something like, “I know you are doing your best, but it’s important I get my luggage by XYZ time. Can you help me?”

And if you’re looking for perks …

Well, it’s unclear if you’ll actually land anything cool. These days, it seems to be a lot harder than it used to, to get bumped into first class or score free drinks. But the experts say it will help to have a small gift on hand (think chocolate); remember your manners, kind of like we reviewed earlier; use the person’s name; and show appreciation for that employee. “I know how hard you must be working,” is a good place to start the conversation.

What did we miss? Let us in on your tips and tricks in the comments below. This story was first published in 2018. It has since been updated.