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What flight attendants want you to know to make flying less stressful — for everyone

A group of flight attendants spoke to TODAY about ways customers can reduce tension on trips.
/ Source: TODAY

Between passengers being forcibly dragged off planes and fist fights breaking out, it's been a turbulent year in air travel.

With Memorial Day weekend kicking off the busy summer travel season, Matt Lauer spoke with five members of the Association of Flight Attendants to get tips on what customers should do in order to avoid a tense flight.

"Approach your flight with a sense of community," Jennifer Ritter said. "You're going to be part of this for however many hours."

"Don't treat the flight crew like we're the enemy because we are all in this together," Dante Harris added.

Moderating alcohol consumption on the plane is another crucial factor. Ritter believes about 80 percent of incidents on flights are related to alcohol.

Flight attendants monitor passengers who may appear intoxicated and can decline to serve them or give them a full bottle.

"The same alcohol that you're drinking on the ground is very different when the cabin is closed and you're at 8,000 feet,'' Tim Hopkins said. "It affects you differently. And most people don't recognize how alcohol does affect them. They get drunker faster."

Cell phone cameras have also created a different dynamic.

"It's creating a situation that almost creates an oppositional relationship between the crew and the passenger doing the filming when there doesn't need to be one,'' Ritter said.

The cell phone footage of a bloodied Dr. David Dao being forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight last month left people stunned and had members of the public sounding off on behavior by flight attendants.

"It's kind of disheartening because we're there as first responders, we're there for your safety,'' Megan Hughes said. "That's our job is to help and be there for our passengers."

The flight attendants also shared their horror stories, one of which doubled as a tip before flying — actually use the bathroom when you have to go.

"The lavatory was occupied, and he did not want to wait, and he urinated right in front of the bathroom by the cockpit,'' Harris said while laughing. "And that's pretty much something that is unacceptable."


Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.