How To Not Be That Terribly Annoying Airplane Passenger

With flying being one of the most common travel-related fears, there is plenty to worry about when you step foot on the plane and everything from turbulence to delays can mean that flying is a stressful experience. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that once you are up in the air, all of your worries just melt away. That is until you realise you are unfortunate enough to end up next to ‘that’ airplane passenger. 

Who is ‘that’ annoying airplane passenger?

The irritating airplane passenger can come disguised in many forms but their traits are shared. In a nutshell, they are somebody who intrudes on your life and acts with little regard for your wellbeing. Of course, we will all encounter these people throughout everyday life but they simply flit in and out of our existence. This is not the case when it comes to air travel. The forced and cramped social setting of a plane means all of these character flaws are amplified and you’ll soon be ready to pelt the stinky person next to you with soap until they jump out of the window. In order to avoid being this hated airplane passenger, make sure you take the following precautions (and make the necessary personality alterations if required).

  • Arrive on time

Avoid being that airplane passenger and arrive on time!

Sitting on a plane and waiting for one late person is beyond frustrating, especially if you need to catch a connecting flight. Always leave more than enough time to make sure you can get through bag drop and security. I could be more forgiving when people stumble onto the aircraft late if they at least had the decency to look sorry. However, having already seen that group of lads necking back pints in Wetherspoons just an hour earlier means that I struggle to find any kind of compassion for them. 

  • Never recline your seat if there is someone behind you

This is one of my ultimate air travel pet hates. Everyone knows, if you fly economy you are essentially exchanging transport for comfort. As if sitting with your knees jammed into the seat in front of you with only Mamma Mia 2 to watch isn’t bad enough, wait until the person in front decides their needs are infinitely more important than yours and reclines their seat. I am fully aware that the seats recline for comfort but it is only right to consider the space of the person behind you as well. It is no defence that they also have the option to put their seat back as even if this goes the whole way down the plane, the person at the back is still having a crap time. 

  • Don’t bring extra large carry on bags

As someone has been caught out with a hefty fine for putting overweight baggage in the hold, I absolutely despise those people who bring ridiculously large hand luggage. Dimension and weight guidelines are clearly stated on any of your flight documentation and should be followed for the good of everyone on the plane. (Can you tell I’m a stickler for rules?!) There is nothing more infuriating than having to leave your favourite hardback book at home because you don’t want to flout the carry-on rules and then seeing someone bring a bag the size of a coffee table on board. 

Read more about why you should go hand luggage only on your next trip. 

  • Listen to instruction

 You would assume that this would be a given considering you are about to ascend tens of thousands of feet and put your life in the hands of the airline staff. Despite this, the amount of people that blatantly disregard the cabin crew speech regarding safety and regulations is literally staggering. Please remember that it delays everyone (including you) if we need to wait for you to bring your seat forward or pack away your computer prior to take off. 

  • Keep your hygiene in check

The thing that is appreciated most in a fellow plane passenger is consideration and this begins with personal hygiene. Make sure you do not smell (it happens to the best of us so carry some deodorant in your carry on), keep your socks on and away from others and avoid doing gross things like clipping your toenails or picking your nose in view of others. These are little things but all help to make sure that everyone on the plane has a pleasant journey.

  • Don’t bring your child (sorry not sorry)

I know I am going to get a bit of flack for this but I’m going to say it anyway. There is nothing and I repeat nothing, more annoying than getting stuck near a screaming child on a long-haul flight. According to The New York Times, 20% of passengers would be in favour of airlines offering child-free flights. I completely understand that you can’t stop children from being children but it is your duty as an airplane user to consider the comfort of those around you. If you know your child will behave itself with minimal interruptions then fair enough. However, if your child is so young they cannot be trusted to refrain from screaming for five hours straight, please do everyone a favour and leave them with a babysitter. Let’s be honest, if they’re that young they won’t remember the trip anyway. 

  • Try not to make contact with the seat in front

Sitting in front of someone who has the habit of bashing you around as they get up or remove their bag from under your seat is a big no. Remember that for every seat that is filled, a real person is sitting in it and they deserve a pleasant journey too. If you have taken a smaller human with your on the plane, keep watch to make sure they are not kicking the seat in front.

  • Avoid stretching in the aisles

I appreciate that people have concerns over potential blood clots as a result of flying and wholly recommend that everyone take the time to stretch and exercise at regular intervals. The exception to this is when people take the aisles to whip out their moves. Trying to squeeze past a woman in a downward dog position when you are bursting for the loo is not helpful. Realistically, all of the exercises that are essential to maintaining regular blood flow can be done in your seat, so please don’t impose your stretches on everyone else.

  • Control your bladder (unless you’re in the aisle seat)

Probably the ultimate British problem on the list, please keep your bladder in check. The fact of the matter is that unless you are in the aisle seat, all of the people that are required to move when you need the loo, hate you. You can probably get away with asking people to move once every two hours at most but any more than that, please just go live in the toilet.

  • Don’t talk too loudly

By all means, talk to people but there really is no need to shout. If I can hear you over Jurassic World, you are simply too loud and must be stopped. Bear in mind that not everyone enjoys flying and many people find that the easiest way to reduce their anxiety is to sleep through the journey. This is made a lot more difficult if they can’t tune out from the bellowing behind them. 

  • Stick to your own entertainment

We are no longer in the dark ages and for long flights, airplanes will provide televisions with a whole range of stuff to keep you occupied. There is also the prevalence of tablets, laptops, e-readers, phones and even the archaic concept of the book. There really is no excuse not to come prepared when you are flying. Even if you forget your bags and hate everything on the TV, do not be one of those ‘over-the-shoulder’ readers. Bring your own entertainment or be bored. Never, under any circumstance, try to encroach on the person next to you. Personal space is important y’all. 

  • Keep your fears to yourself

As someone who has been known to get very nervous on planes before, I feel that this is just being considerate. Turbulence can be pretty scary on a plane and it is natural to assume death is mere minutes away. However, the only appropriate way to deal with this is to close your eyes, say your prayers quietly and grip onto the armrest. Do not loudly vocalise your predictions of doom. All this does is alarm other passengers, who up until you opened your mouth, were coping pretty well. 

  • Do not clap when the plane lands

You know that meme that says ‘imagine going on a date with someone you really like and then finding out that they clap when the plane lands’? Yeah, well that is not a good thing. There is nothing that annoys 99% of people more than the claps of those looking around in awe as they realise they still alive back on the ground. There is literally no other profession (except maybe a stage performer) that you would applaud for simply doing their job. Please stop being so ridiculous.

Okay, rant over

If you have gotten to the end of the post then first off, thanks for sticking with it. I know it seems like a very long rant (which in reality it is) but I know I am not the only person who gets riled by these annoying traits. Flying will always result in certain compromises if you have a budget but we all have a responsibility to each other to make the journey as bearable as possible. By taking just one minute to think, ‘how will this action affect my fellow passengers?’, you are making huge strides in improving somebody else’s airplane experience. Even if you can’t get behind all of the points on this list, I’m sure we can all agree that the key to a pleasant flight is lots of sleep and few interruptions. At the very least, we should all do what we can to make that a reality. (And never clap, ever.) 

What are your pet peeves when it comes to your fellow airplane passengers? 

How to not be that terribly annoying airplane passenger

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2 thoughts on “How To Not Be That Terribly Annoying Airplane Passenger”

  1. This is amazing! You’ve basically just said everything that everyone else is thinking but too “polite” (shy) to say.

    I particularly agree with not reclining seats and clapping when the plane lands 😅


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