9 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Passengers

Tips for dealing with the most difficult passengers during a flight

How do Cabin Crew deal with the most difficult passengers during a flight? Cabin Crew are renowned for their excellent customer service. But when you’re cooped up in a small space with uncooperative passengers, it can be hard to keep your cool.

So how should you deal with the trickiest of passengers? Whether it be crying babies, nervous fliers or those who have had one tipple too many, we’ve got tips for how to cope.

Keep it on the down-low

If a passenger raises a concern or looks as if they’re about to cause a scene, respond in a calm, quiet manner. Sometimes all it takes is a simple request from Cabin Crew to stop a certain behaviour. And there’s nothing more counterproductive than embarrassing or provoking an upset passenger. It could just escalate the problem.

Switch it up

If there is an issue that might be resolved by moving passengers, it’s always worth considering. If there are lots of empty seats on a flight it’s the simplest solution to ensure a fuss-free, happy flight. Some people might prefer not to sit next to young children, or may be frustrated at being constrained by the person in front reclining their seat. Switch their seats, if possible.

Use distraction

When applying or training to be Cabin Crew, you’ll participate in lots of different role-play scenarios. A good technique when dealing with customers is to distract them. If they’re grumbling about the in-flight menu or not being able to stow their baggage directly above them, apologise and steer the conversation on.

Ask them about their travel plans, or recommend something to watch on the in-flight entertainment system (if there is one!). It may not always work, but keeping communication friendly is key.

Talk to a colleague

A problem shared is a problem halved. If you’ve only recently begun your Cabin Crew career, you might not always be sure what to do. Ask a colleague for advice.

On the other hand, you’re bound to sometimes get passengers who are just really annoying! Take a deep breath, deal with their query or complaint, and then by all means go and vent to a colleague. They’ll understand and may want to let off steam too!

Show compassion

Nervous fliers are a common occurrence. The most important thing is to acknowledge their fears and empathise. Explain that it’s your job to keep them safe, and reassure them that flights operate according to strict safety checks.

Anxiety can manifest itself as aggression or frustration so it’s essential that Cabin Crew are compassionate and equipped to handle difficult emotions.

Stop serving alcohol

Intoxicated passengers are something all Cabin Crew face from time to time. Whether it’s a bunch of friends a bit too keen to start their wild holiday or an apprehensive traveller, sometimes people overindulge. Drunk and disorderly behaviour during a flight is unacceptable and you’re within your rights to refuse to serve alcohol to anyone visibly intoxicated. Maintain your composure and stay polite but firm.

Answer questions

Conflict can arise if passengers are stressed due to delays or cancellations disrupting their travel plans. If this is the case, you can offer helpful advice about what to do at the airport after landing. Don’t forget that you may be used to life in the skies but not everyone is a frequent flier!

Be kind to parents

Flying with young children can be stressful – for parents, people seated nearby and for Cabin Crew! Airline policies may differ slightly but there are small kindnesses you can carry out that will mean the world to exhausted parents. For example, you could offer to heat up baby bottles in a jug of hot water or lend an extra pair of hands if a solo parent needs to use the toilet.

Sometimes people are flying for the first time with kids in tow and don’t want to bother Cabin Crew. If children are distressed, ask if there is anything you can help with. Sometimes, just a friendly smile is a reassuring comfort to a parent struggling to maintain their composure.

If all else fails, notify the cockpit

If you’ve used every trick up your sleeve and passengers are refusing to calm down, you may be left with no other option but to notify the cockpit. Pilots can request to offload disruptive passengers before take-off if they’re displaying aggressive or threatening behaviour.

Alternatively, if a passenger becomes excessively unruly during a flight, pilots can inform police who will be waiting at the destination airport to deal with the problem flier before disembarkation.

Wisdom comes from experience

Although it might seem daunting at first, handling problem scenarios is something that will come naturally as you gain more experience and you’ll be able to take it all in your stride.

Our 2-day Cabin Crew course gives you insight into what it’s really like to be Cabin Crew, and you’ll be taught how to manage tricky situations. Attending our course not only looks good on your application, but will equip you with knowledge that will come in useful throughout your whole career. Find out more information here.
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Cabin Crew Wings Team

Our team of experts have the many years as Cabin Crew plus HR experience and are up to date with the latest selection news.

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