These women and men have pretty tough jobs that require them to work nights, weekends and holidays, often away from home, stuck in an "office" where the closest thing to an employee break room is a galley the size of an airplane lavatory.
4. We are not babysitters
To anyone traveling with children, flight attendants ask that you please watch them. Not only will the cabin crew appreciate it, so will everyone else on the plane. If a little one is traveling solo, yes, a flight attendant will keep his or her eye out for problems. But if Junior truly requires a babysitter, he should be home with Nanny.
3. We are not baggage handlers
I once cited a poll from a few years back that indicated "80 percent of flight attendants have reported cuts, bruises, sprains and strains as a result of dealing with items in the overhead bins." Bins haven't been getting any emptier; in fact, after some flights I almost expect the first person reaching for his carry-on to set off an explosive burst of cascading clothes and toiletries. No, a flight attendant's job is not to lift and stow heavy bags (but they may give you a hand).
2. We are not waitresses
And a good thing too, since there's hardly any food on planes anymore. Not in domestic coach class, anyway. But be nice when they come by with that drink cart and you might even get an extra pack of mini-pretzels.
1. We are all about your safety
"Our culture is safety first," said the 40-year veteran flight attendant. And is flying safe? "Yes, definitely." This is borne out by her own experience: Despite all her years in the air, she has no tales to tell of crashes or diverted flights or even especially nerve-wracking experiences, which is why she appreciates the yearly FAA-mandated safety training. It reinforces what she and her colleagues know but rarely if ever use.
No one takes the training lightly, she added, because it feels so real. "It's a tense time for us," she said. "You hope it never happens, but you want to be ready to do the right thing." The right thing is keeping everyone on board a plane safe at all times.
So the next time you're asked to buckle your seat belt or stop clogging the aisle, or are told to get someone else to help you with that 50-pound carry-on, don't think the flight attendant is necessarily in a bad mood and don't think he or she doesn't care about you.
They do care about you and your survival. That is their job.
The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney in this column are his alone and do not reflect the views of ABC News.