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Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  748 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
You're belted into a middle seat with burly businessmen on either side. It's 92 degrees in the cabin and someone forgot to use deodorant. A baby screams. A kid kicks the back of your seat. After two hours you haven't even left the taxiway. Welcome to modern airline travel! In Plane Insanity, Elliott Hester delivers stories that could only come from someone who "rides tin" ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published December 31st 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 12, 2017 Brittany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love learning about the inside world of jobs. Makes me so glad I don't work customer service anymore. Some people are NUTS!!!!
Carianne Carleo-Evangelist
I *loved* this book. It was passed on to me by another traveller this morning at JFK and it was one of those times I *really* wish I had pre-numbered labels as this could have been the perfect non-security area release--ie on to another passenger or in the plane's book rack--yes, Air Canada has them!

Some bits I liked:

-OK, I'm odd and I read the dedications and title pages and what not--this really struck me so I'm glad I did. Plane Insanity was written, edited and sent to press prior to the trag
Mar 21, 2015 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a flight experience you never knew between the obligatory announcements. From the hilarious to the disgusting, this book is bound to keep you casually entertained, perfect reading material for when you happen to be waiting on your own next flight.

Growing up I used to watch the Travel Channel and Discovery for their excellent coverage of behind-the-scenes of fascinating industries. I think there’s a variation of one of those shows today, Modern Marvels, but it lacks the depth of the shows
Eva Leger
I wanted to read this because my Mom is a flight attendent for some time and she's shared some funny stories. Apparently they all have to deal with idiots because Hester's book is truly good for some laughs.
I can't lie - toward the ending it drags a bit. Like he needed a certain amount of pages or chapters and was running empty. I skipped a little. I try not to do that but sometimes it can't be helped.
I liked the inclusion of the articles in the beginning and middle but again, by the end, they a
Solid three star book for me. Kinda silly, pretty informative but fairly amusing anecdotes of life as a flight attendant. It wasn't laugh out loud funny for me - more like small chuckle or occasional smile funny. But still a good read.

The only drawback is that it's a bit dated - written pre 9/11 so a lot has changed. I've also read Heather Poole's book "Cruising Attitude" and preferred that one, for its humor qualities and because it was published more recently (2012). But both are fun, mindles
Jan 24, 2011 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a male flight attendant's experience of angry passengers, babies screaming, drunk people, fist fights in the cabin, lousy hotels, old pilots, etc. It is extremely hilarious and made me feel a little sympathy for flight attendants.
Jane Davis
Jun 15, 2010 Jane Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
If you read Free For All about the goings on in libraries you will like this book---and keep an eye out for Jonathan.
Bea Lathrop
This was written pre-9/11 so it would be interesting to see how the author would portray his interactions with the flying public after 9/11. They were bad before; must be worse now. This book was an easy read.
Michael Pazillo
May 23, 2017 Michael Pazillo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written book

This is a well written book. I now have a greater understanding of what the flight crews have to deal with as far today's flying public are acting. I have a friend who is a flight attendant and will compare notes with her.
Michael Sova
Mar 02, 2015 Michael Sova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A while back, I wrote a Turn the Page book review of The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner. I also published an interview with the author. It's called Meet Mr. Know-It-All and it's well worth reading because Mr. Koerner is an award winning journalist and a fascinating guy.
The Skies Belong to Us is about the rash of airline hijackings that occurred from 1961 to 1972. People's reasons for hijacking airplanes ranged from a desire to defect t
Mar 09, 2017 Red rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read that made me a much more considerate airline passenger!!
May 23, 2016 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
Elliott Hester is a flight attendant for a major American airline. He flies all kinds of routes, though many of his stories seem to include routes to South America. He lets us know what it's like to be a flight attendant and all the quirky stories that go along with it. The stories range from funny to gross. It's an interesting look in to this life, which you would normally only see for a few hours at a time.

Having just finished a book that looked inside the world of waiters (Waiter Rant), it's
Jul 23, 2011 Sally906 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Elliot Hester was a flight attendant who flew both domestic USA and international flights. He shares the experiences he had with both passengers, fellow flight attendants and the pilots.

The reader learns the lengths that some passengers will go to in order to gain access to the mile-high club, some passengers thought they were being subtle, others just went for it right out there in public. Manners are something that some passengers leave at home, and these are not confined to the back of the pl
Jul 07, 2008 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always thought being a flight attendant sounded glamourous. Now I just feel bad for them. So I always try to be nice. The dude who wrote this book tells all sorts of stories about out of control things that happen in airplanes. I read it a while ago, but I seem to remember some crude stuff.

One thing that I've wondered about what the person who pooped on the beverage cart. How did no one notice that until it was pooped on?! Didn't anyone see pants comign down, then soemone hopping up onto the
I really enjoyed this book. As a flight attendant I really related to so many of the things that he brought up! Among my favorite was the part about travelling stand-by with employee passes! The chapter had me in stitches because so much of it was true! Ask any airline employee and they have a crazy story to tell about stand-by travel!

So many of the stories resonated with me and had me howling!

Elliott Hester is a great story teller! He brings to stories to life and really shows such a true side
This book was funny. And it told me a lot of stuff I didn't know about airlines and what flight attendents do. And Hester has a number of really interesting often funny turns of phrase.

Although overall I don't mind, there are a few instances where Hester uses nonstandard English and it threw my sense of the narrative. He uses literally to mean extremely. He has a number of sentence fragments that are not for effect, and starts a few that don't end.
On the other hand, there's a certain color (gen
Oct 12, 2015 RYCJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who knows what it was like to fly during the mid 70’s and earlier, when BOTH customer service and passenger behavior was triple A grade level, might see the irony (mentioned early on in the text) in how air travel today resembles traveling via ground-Greyhound.

That said, while I expected a lot of humor, and some sub-zero zany insanity that comes with the territory of flying more than once or twice a year (major incident free), I none-the-less didn’t expect the shear gravity of combative
Being a frequent air traveler and a fan of The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, Twentieth Anniversary Edition, With a New Afterword, I was all over a collection of flight attendant tales.

There's not a whole lot of substance in this book, but it's an easy and entertaining read. Some of the stories actually had me laughing out loud. Hester's a great and engaging story teller.

I'm an absolute nut for accounts of behavior in dire, life-or-death situations (just consider my obsessi
I recently read through Elliot Hester's Plane Insanity, which collects outrageous tales taken from his years of service as an airline steward. Most of the stories concern the bad behavior of passengers --who break into fist fights and sneak pythons aboard -- though there are some involving the airline crew's own flubs, like the time the author opened an emergency door and witnessed the jump chute (the inflatable tube that allows passengers to escape). It's an entertaining enough read, though it ...more
Hester was an airline attendant for sixteen years with a major airline and this is a book of essays about what he saw in his years of international travel. From being assaulted by out-of-control passengers, performing an emergency medical procedure, watching a planeload of airsick passengers or randy couples, Hester also writes about what the flight crew is really like once the flight is over.
I didn't put this one in my Autobiography/memoir" category as he often has a co-worker relaying an incid
Apr 26, 2014 Rhonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I've been fascinated with flight attendants since I've been afraid of (and yet fascinated with) flying....I like to picture what it would be like to be a flight attendant: all the free travel, all the hotel rooms, all the claustrophobia, jet lag, and getting groped in narrow aisles.....I could never, ever do it. I prefer working close to ground level.
This book was pretty funny and definitely entertaining. I liked the ordinary flight attendant stories more than the outlandish ones, because I like
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of stories from a veteran flight attendant. It tells of sex in the air, crew parties during layovers, violent passengers and many other excesses of the airline industry. Some highlights:A description of debauchery during a party at crew layover the author attended in Caracas. A passenger who gets violent and threatens passengers and crew, drinks to excess, uses inhalants in the lavatory and gets arrested when the plane lands. The passenger sues the airline for letting him on the plane in ...more
Jun 18, 2012 C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Where is the Tim Cahill of airline writing? I want one.

This isn't it, and is the third book I've picked up on flight attendant life.

It didn't flow, but it wasn't bad. It reminded me more of an uncomfortable flashback to my college age waitressing years, except on a plane, and with more bodily fluids (which are horrifying enough on the ground, nevermind at 35,000 ft).

I get the feeling he gave himself a bit more poetic license in the retelling of certain incidents (extra pith & wit in the rete
Jan 01, 2015 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This book was wonderful & hilarious. I'm so glad Good Reads recommended it to me.

If you need a laugh, pick up Plane Insanity.

Elliott's tales of flight attendant life will make you happy you're not on that particular flight.

One word of caution - don't do what I did & bring the book with you to read on a plane flight to begin your vacation. I'm not going to call the book cursed, but I was stuck on a plane on a tarmac for over 3 hours, had an emergency landing after 20 minutes of flyin
Mar 17, 2012 Ensiform rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The author, a flight attendant, reminisces about episodes of air rage, attempts to join the Mile High club, and just plain stupidity that he’s witnessed or heard about during his sixteen years on the job. It’s gossipy and fairly amusing, as I thought it would be. I was a bit disappointed that Hester didn’t convey an idea of daily life on the job beyond dealing with irate travelers. However, I did learn a few things about flight attendants: their airlines don’t treat them well at all (they must s ...more
Jan 22, 2011 Cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My friend loved this book and I thought I would too since it's full of humor. But... many of the antics of passengers he describes who are drunk, obnoxious and out of control is truly stomach-churning, so I don't think I'll even finish it! Yes, it's funny and he's a good writer but the things that people do are just so... shocking and gross, in some cases. The good thing about how this book is written, however, is that it's short stories within the bigger stories so it's easy to skip over some o ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My version of the book was definitely published before September 11th. You can see how many issues happened due to lack of security!!

I really enjoyed this book. Being a frequent traveler myself, I've seen my share of disgruntled and anxious passengers. I am good at spotting them before even boarding the flight lol. I just try and smile and be on my merry way. I also try and be a pleasant passenger to flight attendants because I know their jobs are not easy...this book completely confirmed that.

Jun 18, 2009 Jessie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent, light, semi-short read for anybody looking for a break from class reading or other tedious writings. Hester's account will make you think about the flight staff every single time you fly on a plane, but could also possibly give you ideas of things you would never think to do on a plane.

While the entirety of his book is completely nonfiction, it is a page turner, making the reader forget they are reading about true accounts.

Definitely highly recommended and a cinch to bre
May 27, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was my break from classics. It wasn't "funny" to me in the laugh out loud kind of way but in the shaking my head because I work in ERs and totally get the crazy people can't be tamed and oh god this day is really exhausting kind of way. It made me empathize with flight attendants who deal with situations on their own without security officers at their beck and call, and oh yeah being thousands of miles in the air in a flying bus. It was a lighthearted quick read that will have you chuc ...more
Mar 13, 2009 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was interested to read this, considering I am in the process of writing an account of my memoirs of being a tour guide. All in all, an OK read. Some parts were just laugh-out-loud funny, while others made me wonder why he included them in the book. The book is written in VERY short chapters that really could have been expounded upon. Still, the one difference between Mr. Hester and myself if that he's got his book published and mine's still a work in progress!!!!
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“• While a female flight attendant was serving food from the meal cart, a female passenger thrust a small bundle of trash toward her. “Take this,” the passenger demanded. Realizing that the trash was actually a used baby diaper, the attendant instructed the passenger to take it to the lavatory herself and dispose of it. “No,” the passenger replied. “You take it!” The attendant explained that she couldn’t dispose of the dirty diaper because she was serving food—handling the diaper would be unsanitary. But that wasn’t a good enough answer for the passenger. Angered by her refusal, the passenger hurled the diaper at the flight attendant. It struck her square in the head, depositing chunks of baby dung that clung like peanut butter to her hair. The two women ended up wrestling on the floor. They had to be separated by passengers. • Passengers on a flight from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, were stunned by the actions of one deranged passenger. He walked to the rear of the plane, then charged up the aisle, slapping passengers’ heads along the way. Next, he kicked a pregnant flight attendant, who immediately fell to the ground. As if that weren’t enough, he bit a young boy on the arm. At this point the man was restrained and handcuffed by crew members. He was arrested upon arrival. • When bad weather closed the Dallas/Fort Worth airport for several hours, departing planes were stuck on the ground for the duration. One frustrated passenger, a young woman, walked up to a female flight attendant and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to do this.” The passenger then punched the flight attendant in the face, breaking her nose in the process. • A flight attendant returning to work after a double-mastectomy and a struggle with multiple sclerosis had a run-in with a disgruntled passenger. One of the last to board the plane, the passenger became enraged when there was no room in the overhead bin above his seat. He snatched the bags from the compartment, threw them to the floor and put his own bag in the space he had created. After hearing angry cries from passengers, the flight attendant appeared from the galley to see what the fuss was all about. When the passengers explained what happened, she turned to the offending passenger. “Sir, you can’t do that,” she said. The passenger stood up, cocked his arm and broke her jaw with one punch. • For some inexplicable reason, a passenger began throwing peanuts at a man across the aisle. The man was sitting with his wife, minding his own business. When the first peanut hit him in the face, he ignored it. After the second peanut struck him, he looked up to see who had thrown it. He threw a harsh glance at the perpetrator, expecting him to cease immediately. When a third peanut hit him in the eye, he’d had enough. “Do that again,” he warned, “and I’ll punch your lights out.” But the peanut-tossing passenger couldn’t resist. He tossed a salted Planter’s one last time. The victim got out of his seat and triple-punched the peanut-tosser so hard that witnesses heard his jaw break. The plane was diverted to the closest airport and the peanut-tosser was kicked off. • During a full flight between New York and London, a passenger noticed that the sleeping man in the window seat looked a bit pale. Sensing that something was wrong yet not wanting to wake him, the concerned passenger alerted flight attendants who soon determined that the sleeping man was dead. Apparently, he had died a few hours earlier because his body was already cold. Horrified by the prospect of sitting next to a dead man, the passenger demanded another seat. But the flight was completely full; every seat was occupied. Finally, one flight attendant had an inspiration. She approached a uniformed military officer who agreed to sit next to the dead man for the duration of the flight.” 0 likes
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