The issue of the flight attendant call button is a sensitive one in the USA.
While absolutely taken for granted and even encouraged in much of the world, it remains vexing in the USA (unless you are flying in JetBlue Mint). I think vexing is the perfect word, for the problem is you just don’t know whether to use it. Will a FA get angry? Ignore it? Is it only for emergencies or also available to order a beverage?
Is it considered rude or helpful for a passenger to use the call light?
“Well, we don’t like when you use it after we’ve just walked through the aisle. This happens all the time. We’ve just walked through three times picking up trash, and I’m barely back to the galley, and I hear ‘ding dong.’ And I go up there and you just want to hand me your trash.
“Absolutely use it when you need it. But if the seat-belt sign is off, you should get up and walk back to the galley anyway for circulation purposes.
“If you’re diabetic and you have an emergency situation, you need to ring it — two or three times even. Let us know. We’ll be right there. And sometimes when people are stuck in the window seat, and the two people next to them are sleeping, and all they want is a glass of water, it’s not problem.
“But if I had just come through to pick up trash and you call me to pick up trash, you can call, but it doesn’t make us happy.”
And I think her answer, without making any judgements for or against her sentiment, precisely captures the atmosphere in the USA: use it if you have too, but please don’t.
The “doesn’t make us happy” line simply represents a fundamentally different model of customer service than much of the world. It’s like a warning.
If you’re an infrequent flyer on U.S. carriers the unwritten rule is this: the call button light is for emergencies only. Understanding why is a deeper and more difficult issue, perhaps futile to even ponder.
Do you use the flight attendant call button on flights within the USA?