10 ways not to be an annoying airline passenger

Oct 7, 2019

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We know this comes as no surprise to you, but some people aren’t exactly easy to travel with. Or next to.

But flying doesn’t give us all an excuse to throw our manners out the airplane window so we figured it was high time to put together a definitive guide to air travel etiquette. You don’t want to be “that person” and end up on Passenger Shaming’s naughty list.

Don’t start the flight off on the wrong foot

We don’t really know why this needs to be said again, but alas: Feet can be pretty gross. We totally get why you might want to take your shoes off, especially during a long-haul flight or even for cultural reasons, but please at least keep your socks (or slippers) on!

Not only are bare feet sort of gross to many travelers around you, but think about where your shoes have been and what is actually on the airplane floor. Do you really want to walk on all that with your bare feet when you’re making a trip to the restroom or stretching your legs in the galley? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

Read more: The unbreakable rules for going shoeless on a plane

Be considerate when you go way back

Truth be told, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when the person in front of you just reclines his or her seat out of nowhere. I know you want to get comfortable, but just do us a solid and check to make sure we’re not eating or working with our laptop open, would you?

Let’s put it this way: You wouldn’t just back up your car without checking to make sure the coast is clear, right?

Grooming on planes is like nails on a chalkboard

This should also go without saying, but please save your plucking, picking and trimming for the hotel bathroom. Yes, you’re likely spending more than a few hours on this flying metal tube, but this isn’t Sephora. This is a plane. Do what you need to do, but in the comfort of your own home or in the airplane bathroom.

We like to draw the line at face masks or moisturizing, since airplanes aren’t exactly known for having fresh air. As far as everything else? Best to leave it for a more private space.

Let’s taco ’bout bringing your own food

We know airplane food (usually) isn’t known for being gourmet, especially if you’re flying in economy — so many travelers do opt to pack their own snacks and meals. While we fully encourage you to bring whatever you need, whether for dietary restrictions, health reasons or just plain dissatisfaction with what’s served on board, please keep these words in mind: Recycled air.

So, don’t carry on anything with you that your neighbors don’t want to smell for the next handful of hours (read: tuna fish or hard-boiled eggs), for your own sake and for the sake of your fellow passengers.

Read more: Is it rude to bring your own food onto an airplane?

Images of in-flight meal and beverages served on Business Class
(Photo by Cheryl Chan/Getty Images)

No one likes a Chatty Kathy

It’s more than fine to be nice and approachable to your seatmate — like we said, you definitely don’t want him or her on your bad side. But don’t talk their ear off if they’ve clearly demonstrated they’re more interested in catching up on the latest IFE than learning your life story. It’s a delicate line, for sure, but when in doubt, err on the side of caution and zip it.

Read more: How to avoid a Chatty Kathy seatmate

It’s a plane, not a hotel

Please save the PDA for when you get to your final destination. Holding hands is fine, but let’s keep it at that, OK? And remember: Airplane bathrooms are essentially flying port-a-potties. Take that as you will.

Be nice or leave

We’re just going to say it: Be nice to the gate agents. They’re just trying to do their job and get you on the plane as quickly as possible. Don’t yell at him or her if you don’t get upgraded, or if your flight is delayed or canceled; it’s definitely not their fault.

Same thing goes with flight attendants. They’re not your “sky waiters,” and we promise they want you to have an enjoyable flight. Keep your drink order simple and easy, too. Be nice to your flight attendants, and they can hook you up. I mean, we know you want more free snacks, right?

Don’t make pour decisions

We know you might be tempted to have a glass of wine (or two) to help you pass the time — we’re guilty of it, too. This is especially true when flying in the front of the plane, because the free drinks won’t drink themselves. But consider this a friendly reminder to be responsible, and that fresh plane air will dehydrate you faster than you can say, “I’ll have another Bloody Mary, please.”

Read more: How much is too much when you’re drinking on a plane?

Give the armrest wars a rest

Deciding once and for all who really owns the right to the armrest may be the final frontier of aviation. It’s plagued travelers since the dawn of time … or, at least, since the dawn of modern-day commercial aviation. No matter what side of the, er, armrest issue you’re on, remember to always be courteous.

But yes, experts agree that the poor soul in the middle seat deserves both armrests.

Don’t be a button pusher

Word to the wise: the call button is for emergencies, not to get a refill on the aforementioned drink. Use it sparingly, if at all. Your flight attendants are just that — flight attendants, not butlers. Not sure if your request deserves call button status? Ask yourself, is this something I can do myself, or do I need assistance?

At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to make it to our destination safely, quickly and comfortably. Please don’t be the person that makes this complicated by being rude, messy or disrespectful. Air travel is nowhere near perfect, but we can all be a little more mindful about how we present ourselves. Bottom line: Don’t leave your etiquette at home.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy.

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