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Originally published Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 10:26 AM

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Flight attendant tells all in life-in-the-sky book

A veteran flight attendant writes of the good, bad and ugly in passengers — and of anti-terrorist training.

Associated Press

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"Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet" (William Morrow), by Heather Poole: Want to impress the flight attendant on your next trip? Make eye contact. Say "please" and "thank you." Remove your earphones when asked a question. Be nice to your fellow passengers.

Want to alienate him or her instead? Borrow a pen and don't give it back. Complain that the passenger ahead of you has reclined his seat. Snatch newspapers off the top of her crew bag. Stand so closely behind her in the aisle as she serves beverages that when she bends over, her rear end rubs against you.

Yes, they notice that stuff.

Those are some of the lessons a reader learns from "Cruising Attitude," a tell-all by veteran flight attendant Heather Poole (who also has a blog at hpoole.wordpress.com). She has seen the good and the bad in a lot of passengers, from the elderly man who made origami birds for all the kids on the plane, to the guy who grabbed Poole's Egg McMuffin off the jump seat and ate it without apology.

Poole loves her job, and her account of it here is fascinating. She writes about her training, in which the topics included not only balancing six wineglasses on a silver tray, but also recognizing dozens of weapons and throwing hot coffee at lunging terrorists. We read about the perils of dating in that line of work, including guys who turn out to be a bit too interested in a flight attendant's uniform or in sharing her flight perks.

A conscientious reader can pick up some tips for flying, like why you shouldn't recline your seat too quickly (it smashes laptops), why you should wait until after takeoff to take a sleeping pill, and why nervous fliers should sit toward the front of the plane (the rear tends to fishtail during turbulence).

"Cruising Attitude" is a fun and breezy read. I'll remember it the next time I fly. Especially when I order a Diet Coke, which Poole calls "the most annoying beverage a flight attendant can pour for a passenger in flight." Why? It takes so long. It's unusually fizzy in the glass, and she has to keep pausing for the foam to subside so she can pour in some more.

Thanks to her book, from now on I'll just ask for the can.

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