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How To Be An Annoying Airline Passenger


Photo courtesy of wbaiv.

As someone who flies about four to six times per month, I regular encounter frustrating airline passengers. Some of the habits of other travelers leave me stunned at how oblivious they are to the fact they’re in a public space. To help you be a more courteous airline passenger — and to give me a place to vent — here are some of the most annoying habits of flight passengers.

1. Putting The Arm Rest Up So You Have More Space

The arm rest is there for a reason: So you know how much space is yours, and how much space is mine. The arm rest denotes where an invisible wall sits that should not be crossed by any parts of your — or your child’s — body. I’m not joking when I say I once had a mother lift the arm rest so her son, who was at least five, could lay across the seats — with his feet in my lap. Clearly she was unaware of the armrest rule.

2. Non-Stop Fidgeting

Yes, I understand that planes can be cramped; however, for the sake of the other passengers one should find their comfortable position, put the items they’ll want during the flight in their seat pocket and stay put. A bathroom break once in awhile is understandable. Taking your purse out from under the seat, taking sweatshirts on and off, moving the chair back forward and backward and constantly getting up to go through your carry-on is annoying. Remember, when you fidget nonstop you’re disrupting the people around you.

3. Having A Conversation Over Someone Else

Do you ever get stuck between two people who are traveling together but didn’t get their seats next to each other? Recently I was sandwiched between a family of four — two on one side, two on the other — who didn’t tell me they were traveling together. It wasn’t until we were up in the air with our in-flight meals that the chatter and laughter started, with conversations taking place right over me and the aisle that separated the group. When I looked at the woman next to me in disbelief she said, “Sorry! Those are my friends on the other side of the aisle.” My elation at getting an aisle seat was quickly deflated.

4. Pulling On The Back Of The Seat In Front Of You

I’m not even sure of what reason someone would have for doing this, but it’s happened to me numerous times where my seat is pulled and pushed forward and backward. You do realize there’s a person — who’s most likely trying to sleep — in that seat your jiggling, right?

5. Watching A Movie/Playing A Game Without Headphones

This is one of my pet peeves in general when out in any public place. How do people not think it’s annoying to listen to music/play games/watch movies on their phone without headphones? Everyone around you can hear the swearing, dinging and irritating video game music, which is especially annoying for those who want to enjoy their own media, work or read a book. Do everyone a favor and enjoy your entertainment with headphones.

6. Leaning On The Seat While Waiting For The Bathroom

This is why I will never sit in the rows nearest to the bathroom, as when people queue up for the toilet they tend to lean on the seats on either side of them to rest. What these people seem to forget is that these seats were purchased by hard-working individuals who would like to NOT have their seat rocked back and forth by you, simply because you find it takes too much effort to stand up straight for two minutes. I once sat in the very last row on a 6am flight where I had a person leaning on my seat back every five minutes. It was maddening, especially since all that I wanted to do was sleep. The worst part was I couldn’t even ask the people to stop, as once I shared my annoyance with one person a completely different person would come wait in line for the bathroom, making my previous conversation pointless.

7. Jiggling Your Own Seat

I hate when I’m on a plane watching a great movie and the person in front of me keeps jiggling their seat up and down, up and down. Not only does it make the screen shake, but I have to tilt it in different ways to adjust the lighting. Choose a recline angle you’re comfortable with and stay like that, at least for 10 minutes, without bouncing in the seat like it’s a rocking horse. Ahhh, now I feel much better. Is there something other passengers do on flights that bothers you? Please share in the comments below.
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  1. Frank on at 11:29 pm

    You forgot one – all the frickin people who HAVE to get up the second the plane lands to take their baggage out of the overhead. Then they stand there for the next 15 minutes, standing over you and banging you with their bags or leaning over their seats. The thing is you’d think people would learn – but it happens every time. You know it takes at least 15 min for those plane doors to finally open up.
    I had my own rant about plane travel:
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • jess2716 on at 12:12 am

      @Frank: Ugh! That’s the worst! Thanks for the share 🙂

  2. Chris on at 6:26 pm

    It probably shouldn’t, but it really irritates me when you’re at the boarding gate and everyone feels the need to queue to get on the plane as soon as it opens when everyone has pre-allocated seats. a) You always end up standing for at least 15 minutes in the queue and b) I just don’t understand why you would want to spend any extra un-necessary time in that cramped seat on the plane

    • jess2716 on at 6:29 pm

      @Chris: Agreed! People will push and shove to get one step in front of you; meanwhile, you all have assigned seats anyway. The plane isn’t leaving without you! ha

  3. Tamara Elliott on at 10:04 pm

    How about the people who figure out a way to butt in front of everyone else during check-in, security, boarding…like, what’s with the rush, the plane isn’t leaving until everyone is on it!!

    • jess2716 on at 4:14 am

      @Tamara: So true! Everyone in airports always seems in such a hurry. It doesn’t make sense lol

  4. Greg Seymour on at 3:58 pm

    Great list. I don’t travel as much as you, by a long shot, but out last trip to the States from Costa Rica, where we are living, had us having to deal with a “seat changer”. He could not, would not, sit in his assigned seat. Needless to say it was an 8am flight and he was drunk. He ended up sitting across the aisle from me. I named him Richard….Dick for brevity.

    • jess2716 on at 4:08 pm

      @Greg: Wow, that would drive me nuts! Sounds like an apt nickname you chose, though ;). I never understand why people can’t just sit down, put their seat belt on, grab their book or headphones, and just be content for the flight. Sure, once in awhile you need to get up to stretch or go to the bathroom, but c’mon!

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