Weird things people do on Qantas flights
BEHIND the famed "Friendly Skies" attitude of Qantas crews, flight attendants also have a goldmine of stories about the travellers they have served.
Get a few of them talking and stand back as a whole tonne of dirt is dished.
Of all the many tales of passengers behaving badly, there's one category of passenger that quickly emerges.
"We call them the 'gimme, gimme, gimme' travellers," says Martin, and that's not his real name for the sake of his desire to keep his job.
"These are the passengers who if it's not bolted down, will try to take it."
Melissa is another veteran of the sky-high game - and again, that's not her real name.
"With some passengers, if they see something is available, they want it - no matter what it is," she said. "Some are out for everything they can get."
On a rest between long-haul trips, Michael and Melissa shared and compared notes on a few of their favourite "gimme, gimme, gimme" passenger tales.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SHADE
One woman on a flight whispered to Melissa she needed a sanitary napkin. But when Melissa
returned and discreetly passed it to the passenger, the man in the next seat saw what was going on and asked for one too.
"I said quietly to him, 'Sir, it's sanitary napkin, you don't need one of those,'" she recalls. The passenger, however, was not about to be dissuaded. "Whatever it is, I also want one right now," he demanded.
So, Melissa returned and passed over another sanitary napkin. Within moments, he had unwrapped it, put his seat into recline and put the pad across his face as an eye shade.
"That happens all the time," Martin adds. "We do our best not to laugh as we walk through the cabin seeing men with sanitary napkins across their eyes. They actually think that's what they're for!"
A HANGING AFFAIR
Late on one trip, with only a little over an hour until landing in Sydney, a passenger approached Martin in the galley and asked for a glass of water.
"We had a tray of refreshments out, so I said to him, 'Sir, please help yourself to whatever you can find in here," he says. "I then turned my back to stack up a trolley."
The passenger, however, took Martin's comment a little too literally and began removing the galley curtains from the hooks.
"I rushed over and asked him to stop, as this was part of the actual plane," Martin tells. "The man then said to me, 'But you said I could have whatever is in here, and I can use these on our windows at home!'"
TAKE A SEAT
The end of any long flight is a frenzy of packing up as passengers get ready to land. On one trip, Melissa couldn't help but notice one woman's valiant efforts to shove the thick cushion of her seat into her carry-on bag.
"I said, 'Madam, you can't have that - it's part of the plane and you'll need to sit on it for landing," Melissa says, telling of trying to grab the cushion back out of the bag."
The woman responded, 'You have so many of these on the plane, surely you won't miss just one. I want it for my sofa."
ON A ROLL
On some routes, toilet paper becomes a valuable commodity that needs to be rationed, but it's
nothing to do with passengers' bodily functions.
"There are flights when before we've even taken off, passengers raid the toilets for every roll of toilet paper they can find, and stuff the lot into their bags," Martin says.
"So, we sometimes have to return to the toilets throughout the flight to replace the paper, roll by roll. I remember one occasion where everything ran out, as it had all disappeared into carry-on luggage."
SIZE IS EVERYTHING
Small cans of soft drinks are of special appeal, proving that with some passengers, size does matter.
"We have many international passengers who are obsessed with little cans of soft drinks," Melissa says. "They like to stockpile them in their bags, asking for can after can, but always insist we leave them unopened. We see them later stuffing the cans into their bags."
Martin believes there's another reason for the appeal.
"There are passengers who plan to party later in their hotel rooms and want to save a few dollars on buying mixers!"
"We can always tell the regular Jetstar flyers, as they will fight over the blanket at the end of a flight," Melissa says.
On Jetstar, once a blanket is purchased, the passengers can keep it, but not so on Qantas. That difference, however, can create real friction.
"When we ask these passengers to leave the blanket behind, they get annoyed and respond, 'But I can do this on Jetstar - why is Qantas so mean?'" Melissa says. "Why anyone would want to use an airline blanket again is beyond me!"
EYE ON THE PRIZE
A Qantas business class amenity kit with its range of designer creams is one of the prized perks of the trip up the front of the plane. A little too prized, however, for the woman who gathered up every kit on every seat before the other passengers had boarded.
"She had her arms full as we explained there were now none for the other passengers - something that didn't seem to faze her," Martin recalls.
"We attempted to get back as many kits as we could, but almost had a tug of war erupt as she was not giving up without a fight."