Questions That Are Rarely Asked

Reader J.J. wonders,

How come flight attendants have to pick up the cups they serve drinks in prior to takeoff, but they let me keep the Starbucks coffee I brought on board myself?

Sort of like Gallagher… If 7-11’s are open 24 hours a day, why do they have locks on the doors?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,
    It could be a cultural difference. Normally, if that is an Asian Airline flight attendant they will take that starbucks cup off your hands. They would prioritize Group responsibility first over individual responsibility.

    For U.S. airlines I think they would assume that since that the cup did not come from them and you brought it in yourself that you will be solely responsible for holding on to that cup but will also have to answer for any consequences that may arise by holding onto it during takeoff. Self responsibility trumps Group responsibility in this instant case.

  2. If it’s in a plastic cup, they will let you keep it if you ask nicely. On the rare occasion where they do pre-flight beverage in a real glass, they do need to pick it up, with the possibility of pouring the content into a plastic/styrofoam cup and let you finish during take-off/landing.

  3. I believe the answer is that FAA regulations require collection of all on-board service items prior to take-off/landing (but not items that passengers bring on board themselves).

  4. They only hand out beverages before the flight in the premium cabin to make the coach passengers feel bad as they do the walk of shame past you. Once they are ready to take off the coach passengers have already been seated so we no long need the beverages in the premium cabin until later when we repeat the process for serving food on the flight.

  5. 7-11’s have locks because when they’ve been robbed, they have to lock the store until the police show up.

  6. I saw a bank that said “24 Hour Banking”, but I don’t have that much time – Steven Wright

  7. Another question: Why are you required to wear a seat belt when taxiing, yet, when you are required to take a shuttle to/from the gate, there is standing room only, no seat belts, sometimes no hand holds, and you are traveling faster and making more turns than on an airplane…

    That’s FAA/government logic for you.

  8. It is what the Lawyers say to do!!!

    @Anon the shuttle signs tell you to sit down. You are required under state law to wear seat belts on “non-public” roads—airports are not public roads since the City / State do not plow them for snow nor do they receive federal gas tax.

    7-11 has locks to lock up when the employee has to 1 go to the bathroom or 2 make out with co worker in the cooler / stockrooms. They do have to close to certain state mandated disaster times (blizzards, hurricanes, floods, robberies, riots in some states

  9. @tomRI Sitting down isn’t the same as wearing a seatbelt. We are seated on the plane but required to wear a seatbelt. I completely agree with @Anon. Overall, I think there are many odd FAA rules.

  10. FAA requires all service items served by the airline to be picked up. That’s why you can keep any beverage you bring on board.. During taxiing if the pilot slams on the brakes your cup becomes a missile potentially injuring someone. In our litigious society, the airline and crew would be held responsible.

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