8 Ways to Avoid Being ‘That Annoying Passenger’ on a Flight
Air travel in economy class has grown increasingly uncomfortable. Follow these tips to make life better at 30,000 feet.
Ah, airline travel. Could there be a more perfect example of a love/hate relationship? We feel fortunate for the opportunity to travel anywhere in a day—but we’d be lying if we said the experience was always a relaxing one. Airline travel in economy class has grown increasingly uncomfortable, and it’s up to us to do our part to stop the bleeding. Some of these recommendations may seem trivial, but a little goes a long way at 30,000 feet!
Here are a few ways for you to help make someone else’s flight more enjoyable, and to avoid being “that guy” at the center of happy hour horror stories:
- Don’t use the seats for balance as you walk down the aisle. Instead, use the overhead compartments. If you reach up and slide your hand along it, you’ll be able to catch yourself if there’s a sudden bout of turbulence. Every time you grab the corner of a seat, you create an earthquake, and if you’ve ever had someone do it to you while you’re nodding off, you know how annoying it is.
- Along those same lines, don’t use the seat in front of you to pull yourself up when going to the restroom. Use the arm rests to push yourself up, as grabbing and pulling on the back of a seat is on par with kicking it.
- Turn your bags back to front in the overhead. Time and time again, we watch people put their bags in sideways and take up the space of two. Don’t do that! It simply delays takeoff when the last people can’t find an open bin and the flight attendants have to go around turning the bags themselves.
- Look behind you before reclining. We know you have the right to recline, but sometimes, especially in smaller planes, we’ve wanted to knife the person sitting in front of us. If you’re on the tall side—say, 6’2″—you may have had situations where one minute you’re working on your laptop, and the next the laptop is under your chin; you couldn’t type a word comfortably even if you had Tyrannosaurus arms. Take a peek behind you and just make sure you’re not making someone more uncomfortable than the comfort those few extra inches will provide. That’s not too much to ask, right? By the way, if someone does it to you, all bets are off. We would feel no hesitation or guilt pushing on the seat to access the bag at our feet. We hate to say fight fire with fire, but sometimes it’s the only way.
- Don’t eat aromatic food. Notice how we didn’t say bad smelling food, as that leaves too much for interpretation. You might love the smell of tuna, but the other hundred people on the plane most likely do not. We had a man next to us eat canned octopus in garlic sauce once, and we spent the next three hours keeping the woman on our right from shoving the can down his throat.
- Introduce yourself to your seatmate. You have to walk a fine line with this one. We’ve all heard people complain about the passenger next to them who “wouldn’t shut up,” but at least say hi to your seatmate. We find most people are up for some conversation, and it can even turn into a pleasant back and forth. That said, feel it out and pick up on people’s signals. If they’re fiddling with their earphones, casually give them a chance to end the conversation. But, at the very least, make an effort during takeoff and landing. To us, it’s weirder to sit next to someone for three hours and not say a word than to introduce ourselves.
- Wait until the row in front of you deplanes before deplaning yourself. We’re not sure why there is so much confusion about this (cough, Europe!). It seems like it should be common sense (and common courtesy) yet inevitably, there always seems to be that guy who thinks he shouldn’t have to wait. We were once in the second-to-last row of the plane and had the man in the last row almost knock us over as we stood up from our aisle seat and stepped out. Needless to say, words were exchanged—it’s just plain rude. If you happen to have a tight connection, be nice and quietly ask permission to go ahead (there’s nothing worse than a panicking person screaming about a connection. It’s a rookie traveler mistake and no one takes you any more seriously whether you ask nicely or act like a knucklehead. In fact, it’s the people who are pushy we want to help the least).
- Don’t stand in the aisle when waiting for the bathroom. We know you have to go, but we really would rather you not stand over us while you wait. It’s already tight quarters, and hovering over someone sitting in an aisle seat doesn’t make it any better, not to mention that certain body parts tend to line up with our face. (This is also a common time for people to rest their hands on the back of seats.) Stay in your seat until there’s no line, or wait in the food galley until the person in front of you comes out. Thankfully, airlines have started to police this themselves and it doesn’t happen as often as it used to.
Deep breath, rant over. Happy flying!
This post originally ran on Jaunted.