The button that beckons the flight attendants wields a lot of power. It can be your savior in moments of real emergency like when you’re feeling nauseous or otherwise ill at 35,000 feet. But what if it’s not an emergency – or if you’re not 100% clear on whether it’s warranted. Just when should you dare press it? We’re here to offer a little advice – ready or not. Here’s the CheapAir guide to the flight attendant call button – when you should and should not press it. 

Flight attendants are not at your beck and call

Let’s begin with a cardinal rule: pressing the call button isn’t like flagging down a server at your favorite restaurant or summoning a genie from a lamp. It’s not there for your every whim. Flight attendants are there first and foremost to keep passengers safe. Don’t call them for extra ice

Here’s a scenario: your seatmate has a sudden craving for a Diet Coke, and before you know what happened, they’ve pressed their button. Seriously, folks, this isn’t a drive-thru.

And don’t be sneaky about it either. “Oops, my elbow slipped!” Sure, it did. That’s like accidentally sending a text to your ex at 2 in the morning. There are no accidents. 

Emergencies are always an acceptable reason to push your button

Let’s talk emergencies for a minute. If you’re hyperventilating, having a panic attack, see another passenger trying to open an emergency exit, by all means, press the button. But remember –  if it’s a minor inconvenience like running out of your preferred beverage, don’t hit the panic button. 

Use the button sparingly

There are some passengers who compete for the record of most button presses per flight. Beep! “Excuse me, can I get a blanket?” Beep! “Oh, forgot to ask for headphones!” Beep! “Do you have the time?” There’s a very thin line between asking for essentials and treating the call button like your personal concierge.

Call button etiquette

Now, let’s dip into the complicated waters of etiquette. Is it okay to press the button during meal service? No. If it’s not an emergency, wait your turn.

Here’s a contentious one: reclining your seat. Some consider it a declaration of war, while others see it as their constitutional right. Should the person behind you get to press the button to express their displeasure? Plenty of people call a flight attendant to complain about the person in front of them who’s reclining. But it does put the flight attendant in a tough spot. Save this one for times when the other passenger isn’t compromising with you. 

Safety concerns are a valid reason to press that button

Now let’s flip the switch. The call button isn’t just for passenger requests. Flight attendants encourage its use if you spot something suspicious. You don’t want to be the person who said, “I thought I smelled fire,  but I didn’t want to bother anyone.” Bother away if you have valid concerns—safety first! If you see something, say something!

Can parents of small kids use that button to get relief?

No! The call button is not a “Can you entertain my child for the next three hours?” button. By the same token, if your little bundle of joy just vomited all over you and the aisle – that’s an excellent reason to push that button. 

Let’s wrap this up with some common sense. The call button is there for assistance, not entertainment. Flight attendants can’t perform miracles at 30,000 feet.

The call button issue is delicate. There’s no definitive answer to when you should press it. It’s definitely a gray area of airborne etiquette. But one thing’s for sure: a little humor and consideration can make the journey smoother for everyone involved.

8 Comments

  1. Excellent article never thought in my mind people actually do these things shame on them thank you for educating us…

  2. I agree that a call for an attendant should be used mainly for help situation. The main reason the use of the call button is because I do not think that attendants walk around often enough for passengers needs. I do not think that flight attendants are over worked. It may be a good idea now if the airline would give the passengers Information on flight attendant job function besides making the passenger comfortable and travel safely. I normally see the attendants remain in the rear of the plane and hardly see them again until landing time, unless they serve food and drinks.

  3. i guess there are some rudeness in the above reply about when to press the hostess call button. simply say when really wanted something or whatever some one feeling sick or unsafe. no need to bloody say: it is not at someone’s courtesy or not at your beck or …. . A whole page about an advise? seems the person who wrote it need to relax and let someone else to advice. i dont care what the reason is, i would call the hostess to get me water when i need if iam thirsty or get a medication because I paid for this service. I will stop calling them when they are always around, not sitting chatting to each other. the person who wrote the speech need to check most of the hostesses behaviour on the planes. honestly i used the cheap air website to book tickets but I will not any more.

    • Hi Louay,

      We wanted to highlight a common question that comes up often when flying. Everyone has different experiences and when to press the flight attendant call button is a part of traveling with airlines. We hope you have a great day.

  4. Very useful info here and I do like. Could you send me cheapest flights from London
    (UK) to Pisa (Italy) return 1st September- 2 September for a group of seven people?

    • Hi Eddie,

      We’d be happy to help you find the cheapest flights from London to Pisa, however you didn’t provide a departure date. If you want, you are welcome to enter your dates for travel and check airfares online: https://www.cheapair.com/flights/ (Since you’re looking for a group of seven, you might also want to try breaking up your flight search into smaller groups because sometimes there are only a few seats left at the lowest airfares and if you search for 7, you’ll only get results where seven of the same fare class is available.) If you’re needing any help, feel free to email us at [email protected].

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