Aug. 9, 2012— -- intro: It's part of a flight attendant's job to be generally smiling, discreet and unflappable. Most of them do an amazingly good job at it, considering the range of human behavior they've seen, confronted and/or cleaned up.
But "20/20" interviewed flight attendants to take viewers behind the curtain. Here are some of the things they revealed.
quicklist: 1title: They Hate Delays Just as Much as You Dotext: In fact, they may hate them even more. Why? Delays don't cause them only inconvenience, but money as well.
"Everybody's always surprised to learn that we're only paid for when the door is shut. ... So if there's a delay, or mechanical [problem], we're not getting paid," Heather Poole, a veteran flight attendant and the author of "Cruising Attitude," told ABC News' "20/20."
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quicklist: 2title: They Know When You're Hiding Your Cell Phone Calltext: Talking on your cell phone during the flight is illegal. This law may not be right or necessary -- the question is being debated periodically in Washington -- but flight attendants have no choice but to enforce it ... in the face of passengers' best efforts to resist.
"When you're sitting there with your head between your legs, and you're talking to the floor," said Poole, "I don't think you have a friend down there. I know what you're doing."
quicklist: 3title: They Have Sly Ways of Cutting Your Alcohol Intaketext: Ask any flight attendant what the biggest booster of passenger misbehavior is, and the answer will be: drinking. As if the boredom and sense of license weren't bad enough, altitude actually makes alcohol more intoxicating.
Flight attendants don't have to confront drunk passengers and visibly cut them off. They simply weaken the drinks.
"Their vodka and orange juice becomes more orange juice, and a drop of vodka," Poole said.
quicklist: 4title: They Know When You're Joining the Mile-High Club in the Bathroomtext: "The bathroom line just keeps getting longer and longer and longer," Poole said. "So we knock. We pray they come out with their pants up."
quicklist: 5title: They Know When You're Joining the Mile-High Club in Your Seatstext: These days, Poole said, if it's an overnight flight you're more likely to find lofty lovers skipping the bathroom altogether.
"When one passenger is sitting on top of another passenger, you have a pretty good idea of what might be happening there," Poole said. "Throw that blanket away!"