The One Flight Stand
As anyone who travels knows, there have been many changes in the airline industry recently. Passengers can now expect to pay for checked bags, carry-on bags, a window seat, an aisle seat, early boarding and food. Alcohol seems to be the only product offered on board that passengers have always had to purchase. However, alcohol is also the product that flight attendants tend to comp the most.
Flight attendants use alcohol as a bargaining chip and will dole the juice out as a token of their appreciation. They’ll offer it to someone whose willing to change their seat to allow a family to sit together, or to someone whose inflight entertainment system is inoperative, or to compensate for a spill or just as a way to say “thank you.”
Some passengers have also become wise to the fact that flirting with a flight attendant will usually result in getting something for free. That something free, is usually an alcoholic drink…or two (shameless flirts!) What I’ve found, as a gay flight attendant, is that the epidemic of offsetting the additional fees paid for air travel by flirting with the crew for a cocktail is primarily one practiced by gay men.
I came across a tweet by about a year ago on Twitter which said: “Boarding now. Gay flight attendant. Let’s see if I can get hooked up with free drinks.” I sent him a message saying, “So, it’s that easy?” He quickly responded with a question: “Is flirting with gay flight attendants acceptable for drinks? Is it offensive? What’s a sure way to win their hearts over?”
What he said got me thinking…Is this an unacceptable practice? Or would I trade a few moments of self-confidence and esteem for a mini of vodka?
As a flight attendant myself, I’ve fallen victim to frugal flirting and seen it in action—sometimes charming, but more often pathetically so. The bathroom line on airplane can sometimes resemble the line outside an exclusive club. But onboard an airplane “the club” is access to the back galley where the flight attendants keep the plane’s seemingly endless supply of alcohol. On a flight from Chicago to Atlanta I was in the back galley with my fellow crew members when a group of six fire fighters rose out of their seats to get in line for the lavatory. Any gay man’s dream right? Well, start pinching yourself. One of them started conversing with my gay co-worker. He asked typical questions that we’re used to answering like, “Where are you based?” “Is this your route?” All this is stuff that we hear all the time, and frankly, take note, we’re tired of answering. But this time, my co-worker was happy to oblige because he was mesmerized by his firefighter physique and his charming personality (have to give that to him.)
Once the firefighter entered the restroom the debate started among the flight attendants in attendance: Is he, in fact, gay? Is he genuinely hitting on my co-worker? Or was he straight and using the fact that he knows he could make any gay man swoon?
The decision was easy, it was quite obvious that he was a heterosexual, wedding ring and all. Toying with our hearts (and our fantasies) But once he stepped foot from the restroom my co-worker quickly asked the walking biceps, “So, can I buy you a drink?” And just as fast, came Biceps response, “Jack and Coke.” My co-worker knew that nothing was going to come from this passing interaction—even though the fireman with the big arms hung out and chatted him up for about twenty minutes before he returned to his seat.
Forty-five minutes later the alarm sound again as the fireman made his way down the aisle to the back galley. With a huge smirk on his face and his can of coke in his hand he tells my co-worker, “I have a little problem, I have all of this Coke left and I’m out of Jack.” My co-worker, without missing a beat responded with “Really? You think you can come back here give me a little wink and a smile and I’ll just refill your drink?” Clarifying with yet another smile, the firefighter said, “I didn’t wink, yet.”
Yup, his Jack was refilled.
Once the flame fighter returned to his seat I asked my co-worker what exactly he thought would come from flirting with the fireman and his response was quite humorous: “I’m not looking for anything more than a one flight stand.” It was also quite obvious that the passenger in question knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that with a simple “wink and a smile” he could get what he wanted.
So the question remains: Is this practice unacceptable and offensive?
After consulting a few of my flight attendant friends we’ve determined that it is, in fact, acceptable. However, the acceptance comes with a stipulation: It must be made clear to the flight attendant that you just want to be their “one flight stand” or “In-Flight Boyfriend.” Nothing more. By doing so you’re not leading the flight attendant to believe that a connection is possible once the flight lands. This is helpful for both you and the flight attendant.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so, let’s be honest, the flight attendant being hit on might not believe that the passenger is attractive. But, knowing that this “relationship” might only last for five hours, who would turn down a bit of in-flight flattery? If you should want to make your inflight relationship more, um, grounded, feel free to exchange numbers and let that be known because that’s not always out of the question either—we are human, after all. We have needs! I’ve witnessed many passenger/flight attendant relationships that start with a little flirting and a free drink, and last long after the plan has landed.
Remember though, flirting is not always going to guarantee you a free drink (or something more). Sometimes, it can land you in hot water with your flight attendant—if he’s not in the mood— and that may just means hot water lands on you. In your lap. Quite literally.