During an 8-hour flight in Business class, I called the flight attendant "Ma'am" to get her attention. My husband then told me that I should not have called her "Ma'am" since I am the "the ma'am" (the customer). Is he right?
closed as primarily opinion-based by pnuts, Jan, Giorgio, JonathanReez♦, Ali Awan Feb 4 '17 at 8:01
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Ma'am is not an entitlement, it is a polite way to address any adult female. Your husband was wrong, as both you and cabin attendant can use the term.
And contrary to some of the younger responders is not an outdated term, as it is in common usage still in many parts of the English speaking world, except maybe the connected generation where politeness has been forgotten.
What you said was fine. You did nothing wrong and were polite and respectful (and formal).
It would also be fine to say "excuse me" or simply signal visually for the crewmember's attention as they pass down the aisle.
YES. In current English, it is perfectly acceptable to address the crew with Sir or Ma'am.
If you took chance to remember the crewman's name, you can use that as well. Note that some crew have their surname on their name tag, such as Ms. Janeway.
That is extremely old mannerism. It is 2017. You were right to call her "ma'am", "miss", etc. And she could have called you the same. There is no difference, it is simply a polite way of addressing someone who is a stranger.
It is quite old fashioned and overly formal I guess. It would be fine to say "Excuse me" while they pass by you.