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5 things a flight attendant would never want you to do as an airline passenger

You might want to keep these tips in mind before your next flight.
/ Source: TODAY

Airplanes aren't exactly the comfiest spots, yet somehow, many passengers have a tendency to get a little too comfortable during their flight.

You might think you're being sneaky when you slip your shoes off or nosh on some stinky food, but flight attendants have seen it all and they've developed some best practices for flying to help make the experience enjoyable for everyone on board.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, shared her tips with TODAY, breaking down five things that flight attendants would never do as a passenger on a plane.

1. Don't expect a flight attendant to read your mind 

“Flight attendants are a lot of things, but we’re not mind readers,” Nelson explained.

For instance, when your flight attendant walks down the aisle to take your drink order, try to be as specific as possible to make things easier for them. If you want a coffee, make sure to mention if you want it black, with cream and sugar, and so on.

“But mostly, keep those earphones out for just a minute, pay attention, so we can keep things moving for the rest of the passengers,” she added.

After all, the last thing your flight attendant wants is to flag you down to get your attention while you're captivated by the on-flight entertainment. And besides, being kind to the crew can occasionally score you some nice perks.

“If we notice you’re a helper, maybe your flight’s that much better after the flight attendants see that too,” Nelson said.

2. Don't treat the plane like your home 

For the love of all that is holy, please don't take your shoes off during your flight.

"This happens all the time," Nelson said, sharing a photo of a passenger reclining with their feet up against the wall of the plane.

It might seem like an obvious recommendation, but Nelson explained why this dirty habit can create issues.

"It’s a problem because it creates incredible conflict, it's gross, it can smell and also, you know, you’re putting yourself in jeopardy too," she said.

This best practice is applicable whether you're sitting in your seat or walking around the plane.

"For those of us who watch these airplanes turn and burn and not get the cleaning that you might think it's going to get, you don't want to be walking around with your shoes off and adding to that petri dish and potentially putting yourself in jeopardy too," she said.

TODAY's Savannah Guthrie was understandably grossed out by this one. "The ick factor (is) high on that tip," she said.

3. Don't hog the armrest if you aren't in the middle seat 

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who actually prefers the middle seat, but we've all been stuck there at one point or another. When you do find yourself in the aisle or window seat, Nelson recommends being considerate to your middle mate.

"The window person gets all that space against the cabin and the side door and they also have an armrest, and the person in the aisle — unless there's a drink cart there or the seat belt sign is on — they can get up and they have lots of room to roam around," she explained.

According to Nelson, studies show that 4 out of 5 people believe that the person in the middle should get the armrest.

"Sharing is caring," Savannah said.

4. Don't unbuckle your seat belt 

Whether you love them or hate them, seat belts are there to protect you, and Nelson recommends keeping them on at all times, whether the seat belt light is on or off.

"Pilots do a really good job of trying to warn us when there's turbulence coming, but sometimes it comes without any warning at all," she said.

Nelson cited two recent flights where passengers were injured during a bout of turbulence. One involved a Hawaiian Airlines flight where 36 people were hurt, including 11 with serious injuries, while on their way to Honolulu.

"This is really serious. Keep that seat belt on," she said.

5. Don't bring smelly foods to eat 

Lastly, Nelson shared a best practice that also applies to the office: Don't bring notoriously stinky food on the plane.

"Do not bring on your egg salad or tuna," she said. "We’re in an enclosed environment with recirculated air. This is not a good place to be stinking it up."

Savannah seconded the recommendation, saying, "Don't microwave your tuna fish at lunchtime in the office microwave."

However, if you do bring something delicious — like french fries — Nelson jokingly recommended bringing "enough for the crew."