Again, from my Philly Phrolics philes, the cheerier companion to "Travel Emergency Tips".
  • Check in early at the boarding gate. Most flights are oversold; being there early keeps you from getting bumped to another flight. Combined with other tricks, you might even find yourself promoted to first-class.
  • Tip the crew. Individually-wrapped cookies or candies are a nice gift for the flight staff. Give them to the lead flight attendant as you board, but don't bother the lead FA for anything else - s/he is busy enough with boarding details. Collar a regular FA instead, for other matters. Also, consider tipping your FA for drinks.
  • Request a customer comment form, thank the FA by name (just look at the nametag), and keep the form out on your tray table during the flight. Do I need to explain how this keeps the service cordial?
  • Don't be needy. Tips and gifts will only get you so far. Airlines have become so extremely cost-conscious, the flight staff has neither time nor resources to cater to you extensively. You can get a blanket and a sincere smile, don't push for much more than that.
  • Comply. The flight attendants have a dual role: keeping passengers happy, and enforcing D.O.T. and FAA regulations. However uninspired their performance in the former role, you can bet they are at their least pleasant in the latter.