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When to (and When to NOT) Use the Call Button: Tips from Flight Attendants


To print or not to print, that is the question.

The etiquette surrounding the flight attendant’s bell on an airplane can be a gray area for passengers, with many wondering when is the right time to press the button.

To clear up the confusion, several flight attendants here share insight on when you should and shouldn’t ring the bell.

When you shouldn’t press the button

Apparently ringing the doorbell because you fancy an alcoholic drink is not a good idea. Sarah Nelsonthe international president of the Association of Stewardessespreviously told travel site The points man: “Don’t use the call button to ask for a drink… in general, don’t think of the call button as your vodka and tonic button.”

The etiquette surrounding the flight attendant’s bell on an airplane can be a gray area for passengers, with many wondering about the right time to press the button.

Former Delta flight attendant Kat Kamalani shared her thoughts on the matter, saying pressing the call button at the wrong time could pose a “massive safety issue.”

Speak in one TikTok video before making a career switch, she said when passengers press the button on the runway or when the plane takes off or lands, it “drives flight attendants crazy.”

She noted that flight attendants or passengers could be injured if a cabin crew member was called to a seat unnecessarily in these cases.

“If it’s not an emergency, we’ll go right back to our seats,” she said.

On a Delta Air Lines Reddit forum user ‘ianisboss123’ asked for examples of using the call button would be considered rude.

an user, ‘June balloon’who claimed to be a flight attendant replied, listing the occasions when they “disliked” using the bell.

First, they said it’s a problem if “someone presses to ask for a Sprite or a cookie” while the cabin crew is handling a medical situation. ‘Juneballon’ remarked, ‘Really? Are you drawing one of the crew’s attention to yourself because you wanted a soda?’

Another faux pas is when a passenger presses the call button to give the cabin crew their rubbish. The user explained, “I feel like a human garbage can. Just hold it or put it in the seat pocket until we come by with a bag.”

It is also frowned upon, the user reveals, as cabin crew go down the aisle “loudly handing out headphones, deliberately trying to make eye contact with everyone,” only for a passenger to press the bell moments later to ask for headphones .

According to the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, you should not use the call button to ask for a drink

According to the president of the Stewardesses Association, you are not allowed to use the call button to ask for a drink

When passengers ring the bell repeatedly to try to get on the cabin crew’s nerves, that’s another annoyance. ‘June balloon’ they once witnessed ‘a lady pressed it at least 100 times during the flight because she was angry (about) something from her previous flight’.

When to press the button…

When is button-pressing acceptable? Speak against InsiderUnited Airlines flight attendant Annette Long weighed in, “If you have diabetes and you have an emergency, you have to call it — even two or three times.” Let us know. We’ll be there soon.

“And sometimes when people are stuck in the window seat, and the two people next to them are sleeping, and all they want is a glass of water, that’s not (a) problem.”

In conversation with The points manSara Nelson supported Long’s point, noting, “It’s really primarily for emergency use.”

Parents with young children have a right to it too, she says, explaining: “It could be that you are a mother and you have a baby in your arms, and you need some help – it’s hard for you to get up , and you need help.’

Not only that, it can also be used as a “signal system,” according to Nelson. She told the publication she has used it to help identify those passengers who need to make a fast flight connection after a delayed flight – they can ring the bell to identify themselves.

Nicky Kelvin, Head of The Points Guy UKtold MailOnline Travel: ‘Bubble bells are primarily for safety or emergency use, and overusing them can lessen their impact or cause the crew to focus on things that are much less important, leaving real problems in the lurch.

“Outside of safety, there are times when it seems appropriate to use a bell. For example, if the seatbelt signs are on, but the crew is still moving in the cabin and you need water, or have forgotten for an essential service – let’s say you are missing cutlery and your meal is waiting for you, the de only way to get the crew’s attention can be through the call button.

“If you’re at the window and your neighbors are asleep, you may also find it more considerate to use the bell if you have a more essential request.”

“It’s usually not appropriate to use the bell to get things that come to you anyway, but you’re just trying to get ahead of the queue. For example, don’t use the bell to ask for your meal or drink to be delivered immediately. It is best to wait your turn and let the crew adhere to their usual service procedure unless you have an urgent or immediate need.

“Don’t use the bell to ask for things you can do or get yourself. Examples include on many long-haul flights – even economy ones – juice, water and snack baskets left in the kitchens for passengers to enjoy. You’d better get up, stretch, and grab what’s been left out for you.”

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