Why cabin crew greet you on a flight with their hands behind their backs


The cabin crew take an important step when they first greet us to ensure a smooth flight. (Getty Images)

We’re usually so focused on not missing our flight, remembering all our important travel documents, and getting settled into our seats, that we can often forget why cabin crew do things a certain way.

But have you ever wondered why your flight attendant welcomes you on board with her hands behind her back?

Or maybe you never really thought about it. Surely it’s just a gesture of politeness, right?

Well, there’s actually a clever reason behind their upright posture.

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Loaded flight.  (Getty Images)

Keep an eye on your flight attendant’s hands the next time they greet you. (Getty Images)

Why do cabin crew hide their hands when you board a plane?

When passengers board the aircraft, cabin crew members must count each person using a clicker.

In order to be discreet while they smile and welcome you on board, the nifty little device is held behind their backs.

Eagle-eyed passengers on long-haul flights might even have noticed that sometimes the plane crew goes up and down the aisle using the click device before takeoff.

When they do a count, it’s actually more of a double check to make sure everyone is on board.

Read more: Flight attendant reveals why there’s a ‘secret’ room on long-haul flights

Cabin crew member counting passengers.  (Getty Images)

When the crew uses the clicker in the aisle, it could actually be the second time. (Getty Images)

When the counting of passengers on a flight goes wrong

Showing how crucial low-key work is, a memorable Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Belfast in 2019 was delayed for up to two hours after staff could not determine the number of passengers on board.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, around 100 passengers on the late night flight were left stranded on the tarmac as the crew tried to properly confirm the number of people on board the plane.

Although flight attendants checked boarding passes three times, they were still unable to account for everyone who was due to fly. But finally, after even having to resort to reading the names of the passengers, the 10:10 p.m. flight finally took off at midnight.

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“It looked like there were two people on the flight who couldn’t be accounted for,” a passenger revealed. “Flight attendants kept telling us that legally they couldn’t take off until they had the correct number of passengers.”

So there you have it, how cabin crew greet us is far more important than you might think. And now you also have a conversation starter ready for the neighbor sitting next to you.

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