Let’s face it, the airline industry isn’t known for its hospitality. And recent incidents of airline staff acting horrendously toward passengers haven’t helped. However, the airlines aren’t completely devoid of the ability to provide customer service. You just need to ask for it.
Here are seven things that you might not have known that you could ask for from your airline.
1. Kids’ amenities
Some airlines will go out of their way to make children and families feel welcome on board. For example, Air New Zealand offers a “Jet Cadets” kids’ activity pack that includes toys, activities, and food just for kids. In addition, it offers a kids’ channel on in-flight entertainment. On Lufthansa, my daughter received a little “pilot’s suitcase” filled with toys and games. But often airlines won’t provide these amenities automatically. If you are planning on traveling with children, you need to notify them in advance.
2. A whole can of soda
How often have you actually sat down to drink a half a cup of soda at home? Yet most flight attendants usually just pour half the can over a bunch of ice and move on to the next customer, leaving you just a few sips of soda to quench your thirst. If you actually want the full can, all you have to do is politely ask your flight attendant, and you’ll probably get it.
3. Another meal
On flights where meals are served, airlines have to over-cater the flight to give most passengers a chance of getting their first choice in meals. This means that there are usually many meals leftover and discarded at the end of a long flight. If the food is especially good, or you’re particularly hungry, then there’s no reason why you can’t ask for a second meal. For the best results, I would first compliment the flight attendants on the meal, and ask if it would be possible to have seconds after others have been served.
4. First aid supplies
If you’re in midair and have a strong headache, upset stomach, or just a nasty cut, you can reach out to the flight attendants for some basic medical supplies. They should be able to supply you with things like over-the-counter pain medications, antacids, and band aids.
5. Additional airsickness bags
Airlines will stock their seat pockets with airsickness bags, for obvious reasons. In addition, airsickness bags are the preferred way to dispose of all sorts of other waste items including used tissues, dirty diapers, and soiled clothing. But when you actually need them most, you might not find enough of them in the seat pockets. Don’t worry, the airline has a very strong interest in providing you with as many airsickness bags as you need, but you’ll usually need to ask.
6. A doctor
If you or someone you are flying with has an urgent medical need during a flight, then you should contact your flight attendant and ask if there is a doctor on board. Airlines have established procedures for asking for passengers with medical experience. In most cases there will be a doctor or another medical professional on board. But even when there isn’t, the airline is often able to consult with medical staff on the ground to evaluate passengers and possibly treat them with onboard supplies. And if you need more than that, the airline can land to give you emergency medical services.
7. A tour of the cockpit
I’m old enough to remember being taken to the cockpit in-flight, but that’s no longer permitted on flights to or from the United States. However, many pilots welcome children’s visits before or after the flight. In addition, some foreign airlines will still permit in-flight visits, so long as the destination is not the United States. Once again, you simply have to ask.