What Is A Bob To A Flight Attendant? A Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airline, you may have heard flight attendants refer to certain passengers as “Bobs.” But what exactly does it mean when an airline employee calls someone a Bob? In short, a Bob is a passenger that requires extra attention and assistance from the flight crew.

In this comprehensive 3000+ word guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Bobs from a flight attendant’s perspective. We’ll start by providing a quick definition of what a Bob is, then dive deeper into the history and origins of the term.

We’ll also break down the different types of Bobs flight attendants encounter, what traits characterize a Bob, and why they require special handling. By the end, you’ll have a complete understanding of this airline industry lingo.

What is a Bob? A Quick Definition

Bob, in the context of flight attendants, is a nickname given to a certain type of passenger who requires extra attention during a flight. This term originated in the early days of commercial flying and has become a commonly used term within the industry.

A nickname used by flight attendants

Flight attendants often use the term “Bob” to refer to passengers who need extra attention or assistance during a flight. This nickname is used as a way to discreetly communicate with other crew members about the specific needs of certain passengers.

It allows them to quickly and efficiently provide the necessary assistance without causing any unnecessary alarm or embarrassment to the passenger in question.

Flight attendants have a variety of reasons for identifying a passenger as a “Bob.” It could be due to a medical condition, such as mobility issues or a need for oxygen support. It could also be because the passenger requires additional assistance in understanding safety procedures or has specific dietary restrictions.

Refers to passengers who need extra attention

When a flight attendant identifies a passenger as a “Bob,” it means that they will be given special attention throughout the duration of the flight. This could involve helping them with boarding and deplaning, providing assistance with carrying luggage, or ensuring their comfort during the flight.

Flight attendants are trained to handle various situations and are equipped with the necessary knowledge and resources to assist passengers with different needs. They are there to make the flying experience as smooth and comfortable as possible for everyone on board, including Bobs.

Originated in the early days of commercial flying

The term “Bob” originated in the early days of commercial flying when flight attendants used it as a discreet code to communicate about passengers who needed extra attention. Back then, air travel was a relatively new concept, and flight attendants had to be resourceful and creative in providing personalized care to passengers.

As the aviation industry evolved and grew, the term “Bob” has continued to be used among flight attendants. It has become part of the unique language and culture within the profession, allowing for efficient communication and coordination among crew members.

It is important to note that the term “Bob” is not meant to be derogatory or disrespectful. It is simply a way for flight attendants to identify and address the specific needs of certain passengers in a discreet and efficient manner.

The History and Origins of the Term “Bob”

First used in the 1960s/1970s

The term “Bob” has a fascinating history that dates back to the 1960s and 1970s. It was during this time that flight attendants started using the term to refer to passengers. The exact origin of the term is uncertain, but it quickly gained popularity among flight crews and became a common slang term in aviation.

Derives from “best on board”

One popular theory about the origin of the term “Bob” is that it is an acronym for “best on board.” Flight attendants would use this term to refer to passengers who were well-behaved, polite, and easy to work with.

These passengers were considered the “best” and were given the nickname “Bob” as a way to acknowledge their positive behavior.

Slang spread through word-of-mouth

The slang term “Bob” quickly spread among flight attendants through word-of-mouth. As flight crews interacted with each other and shared stories and experiences, the term became widely known and used within the aviation community.

It became a way for flight attendants to refer to passengers in a lighthearted and informal manner.

The term “Bob” continues to be used by flight attendants today, although its meaning has evolved over time. While it may have originally referred to well-behaved passengers, it now encompasses a broader range of passengers and can be used to refer to anyone on board a flight.

So the next time you hear a flight attendant mention a “Bob,” you’ll know that they are referring to a passenger, and not just any passenger, but someone who is considered one of the best on board.

Types of Bobs Encountered by Flight Attendants

The Intoxicated Bob

Flight attendants often come across the Intoxicated Bob, who has had a bit too much to drink before boarding the flight. This type of Bob may become rowdy, disruptive, and even aggressive towards other passengers or crew members.

Handling this situation requires a delicate balance of firmness and empathy to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone on board. Flight attendants are trained to handle such situations with professionalism, and they have protocols in place to address the needs of the Intoxicated Bob.

The Nervous Flyer Bob

The Nervous Flyer Bob is someone who experiences anxiety or fear of flying. This type of Bob may exhibit various symptoms such as sweating, trembling, or rapid breathing during the flight. Flight attendants are trained to recognize and assist nervous flyers by providing reassurance, offering distractions, and ensuring their overall well-being throughout the journey.

They play a vital role in making the Nervous Flyer Bob feel safe and comfortable during the flight.

The Talkative Bob

The Talkative Bob is the passenger who loves to strike up conversations with anyone and everyone around them. While some flight attendants enjoy engaging with talkative passengers, others may need to balance their interactions to attend to other duties.

Flight attendants are skilled in politely redirecting the Talkative Bob’s attention or finding the right moment to continue the conversation when their workload allows. They know how to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere while maintaining professionalism.

The Complainer Bob

We’ve all encountered a Complainer Bob at some point during our travels. This passenger is never satisfied and finds faults with every aspect of the flight, from the seating arrangement to the inflight meal. Flight attendants are trained to handle complaints with patience and empathy.

They strive to address the concerns of the Complainer Bob, finding solutions or offering alternatives to make their journey more enjoyable. Flight attendants play a crucial role in maintaining customer satisfaction and resolving issues during the flight.

The Sick Bob

The Sick Bob is a passenger who may experience illness or discomfort during the flight. Flight attendants are trained in first aid and are equipped to handle medical emergencies on board. They are responsible for assessing the situation, providing immediate assistance, and coordinating with the appropriate medical authorities if necessary.

Flight attendants are prepared to handle various medical situations, ensuring the well-being of the Sick Bob and all other passengers.

The Unaccompanied Minor Bob

Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) are children traveling alone. Flight attendants have a special responsibility when it comes to taking care of these young passengers. They ensure that UMs are safe, comfortable, and entertained throughout the flight.

Flight attendants provide extra attention to UMs, assisting them with any needs they may have and ensuring they are reunited with their designated guardian upon arrival. They play a crucial role in making the Unaccompanied Minor Bob’s journey smooth and secure.

Common Traits and Characteristics of a Bob

Requires excessive amounts of attention

One of the common traits of a Bob, as observed by flight attendants, is their need for excessive attention. Bobs often seek constant reassurance, attention, and validation from the flight attendants. They may constantly ask questions, request updates on flight progress, or seek assistance with minor tasks.

While flight attendants are trained to provide excellent customer service, dealing with a Bob can be challenging as their constant need for attention can divert their focus from other passengers.

Frequently requests assistance

Bobs are also known to frequently request assistance from flight attendants. Whether it’s help with storing their luggage, adjusting their seat, or finding their way around the aircraft, Bobs rely heavily on the flight attendants for support.

While it is part of a flight attendant’s job to assist passengers, Bobs can sometimes make excessive demands or expect the flight attendants to go above and beyond their duties. This can put additional strain on the flight attendants who are already responsible for the safety and comfort of all passengers on board.

May have unreasonable expectations

Another characteristic of a Bob is their tendency to have unreasonable expectations. Bobs may expect the flight attendants to fulfill their every whim, regardless of the feasibility or practicality. They may demand special treatment, extra amenities, or insist on specific meal options even if they are not available.

Dealing with these unreasonable expectations can be challenging for flight attendants, as they strive to provide the best service possible within the limitations of the aircraft and the airline’s policies.

Tests boundaries and patience

Bobs are known for testing the boundaries and patience of flight attendants. They may push the limits of what is considered acceptable behavior by being demanding, argumentative, or disruptive. Flight attendants have to maintain a delicate balance between providing excellent customer service and ensuring the safety and well-being of all passengers.

Dealing with a Bob who tests these boundaries can be mentally and emotionally draining for flight attendants.

Causes disruptions on the flight

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of dealing with a Bob is their potential to cause disruptions on the flight. Bobs may engage in disruptive behavior such as loud arguments, refusing to comply with safety instructions, or interfering with the crew’s duties.

These disruptions not only affect the flight attendants but also the experience of other passengers on board. Flight attendants have to handle these situations delicately while maintaining a calm and professional demeanor.

Why Bobs Need Special Handling by the Flight Crew

Flight attendants are trained to handle a variety of situations during a flight, including the unique challenges posed by certain passengers. One such challenge is dealing with individuals who are affectionately referred to as “Bobs.”

While Bobs may seem like regular passengers, they require special handling due to a variety of reasons.

Can impact safety and security

Bobs can impact the safety and security of a flight in various ways. For example, they may exhibit disruptive behavior or refuse to follow important safety instructions. Flight attendants are trained to identify and address these situations promptly to ensure the safety of all passengers on board.

Affects work flow and service

Dealing with Bobs can also disrupt the regular work flow of the flight crew. This can include delays in serving meals, attending to other passengers, or attending to emergency situations. Flight attendants must find a balance between addressing the needs of the Bob and ensuring that other passengers are not inconvenienced.

Causes stress and burnout

Interacting with difficult passengers like Bobs can be emotionally and mentally draining for flight attendants. The constant need for patience, problem-solving, and conflict resolution can lead to stress and burnout.

It is important for the flight crew to be well-equipped with coping strategies and support systems to maintain their well-being.

Requires tactful de-escalation

Dealing with Bobs often requires flight attendants to employ effective de-escalation techniques. This involves remaining calm, empathetic, and assertive while addressing the concerns or demands of the Bob.

Flight attendants are trained to handle such situations professionally, defusing tension and creating a safe environment for everyone on board.

Tests a flight attendant’s training

Handling Bobs can be seen as a test of a flight attendant’s training and skills. It requires them to apply their knowledge in real-time, adapt to unpredictable situations, and make quick decisions that prioritize safety.

Flight attendants are trained extensively to handle a wide range of scenarios, including those involving challenging passengers.


So in summary, a Bob is an airline passenger that demands extra time, attention, and energy from the flight attendants. The term originated decades ago as an informal nickname used among crew members. While Bobs come in many forms, they’re united by requiring special handling from the inflight staff in order to have a safe and comfortable flight.

Next time you hear a flight attendant refer to someone as a Bob, you’ll know exactly what they mean!

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