You might think that sitting on an airplane is the easiest part of air travel. You've already suffered through security - which, no matter how many tricks you use to speed things up, always takes longer than you expect. You scoured the terminal for acceptable food options and, unless you were lucky enough to stumble upon an airport restaurant that was actually good, you settled for a sad, overpriced snack.
After battling the crowds and dealing with delays, you're probably relieved once you finally plop down in your seat. Sometimes, though, your seatmates can make the experience pretty unpleasant: While you're in the air, you have to deal with the smells, noises and obnoxious habits of the people around you. Don't be that passenger that makes others' flights unbearable - whatever you do, avoid doing these annoying things on an airplane.
Hog the armrests
One unspoken rule of air travel is that the person squished in the middle chair has automatic rights to both armrests. If you like to spread out on a plane, the middle seat is not for you. That person isn't afforded the extra arm space on either side, and is often forced to keep their elbows in close to avoid making skin-to-skin contact with their neighbors. So if you're sitting in either an aisle or a window seat, be courteous and let the person next to you rest their elbows. It's the least you can do.
Eat something smelly
There are many foods you should never bring on an airplane, and for good reason. There are few things worse than being stuck inhaling the stench of overcooked fish or hard-boiled eggs on a long flight. Smells on airplanes linger. Foods that smell bad - such as tuna salad, garlicky entrees and deep-fried fast food - should not be brought on board.
If you're traveling with a group or a friend, remember to keep it down. People around you are probably trying to sleep, read or otherwise zone out. Rowdy conversations from groups of partiers or loud exclamations from neighboring aisles are seriously disruptive. You could also end up shouting over an important announcement from the cockpit. Use your inside voice!
Refuse to lower your window shade
Sitting in the window seat has its perks, but also its duties. If your neighbor politely asks you to lower the window shade so that they can sleep or avoid feeling nauseous, it's best to comply. The views are nice, sure. But while you can still enjoy your flight with the windows closed, they might not be able to enjoy the flight with them open.
Be rude to the flight attendant
Yes, it can be annoying to have to wait for your beverage. And yes, it can be frustrating to be stuck with an unexpected delay. But don't take it out on your flight attendant. They're trying their best and a complaint won't make things move any faster. Impatience is just one of many things passengers do that flight attendants can't stand.
Put your feet up
For comfort, some people like to put their feet up between the seats in front of them during a long flight. But there are other ways to survive a long flight without grossing out your neighbors (and taking up their valuable armrest space). If your rear end hurts from sitting too long or if you feel like you need to stretch, take a short walk through the cabin. You can even go into the aisle or bathroom and stretch if it's helpful.
Fall asleep on your neighbor
Sleeping on a plane is a great way to pass the time and get some rest before or after an exciting trip. But if your head bobs too far to the right or left, you could end up dozing on your seatmate's shoulder, making for an awfully awkward encounter when you wake up. Respect your neighbor's space and comfort and make sure you're falling asleep with your head propped back, or tucked into a neck pillow.
Eat something you know will upset your stomach
Experiencing gastrointestinal distress on an airplane is one of the worst travel experiences you can have. You're stuck in your seat and are forced to endure embarrassing bowel movements and odors in a cramped, public and in-demand bathroom. Spare yourself (and your fellow passengers) by taking precautions to avoid stomach issues. Don't eat anything you know will give you gas - fried chicken, roasted cruciferous vegetables and beans are common culprits. Additionally, know your food intolerances and adjust accordingly. If you're lactose intolerant, now is not the time to try your luck with that wedge of Camembert.
Watch a movie without headphones
Listening to anything out loud without headphones on public transportation probably isn't the best idea. There's no way you don't know you're being rude when you put your electronics on full volume - you're basically assuming that everyone around you wants to listen to the same thing. This also disrupts people's sleep and messes with their ability to hear clearly through their own headphones. If you forget to bring headphones, you can ask to buy some from a flight attendant.
Be unprepared to travel with a small child
Flying with babies or small children isn't easy. They'll kick, scream or worse, and there is little you can do about it. But you can come on board prepared. Bring sucking candies or pacifiers to help ease the pain that air pressure changes can cause in your little one's ears. Make sure to bring plenty of entertainment with you so they don't cry from boredom. Put them in a diaper, even if they're in the process of being toilet-trained, because you don't want any "emergencies." You might even plan the timing of your flight so the majority of your time in the air overlaps with nap time. A sleeping child is a quiet child. Using these tips and more, you could save yourself more than a few headaches.
Refuse to get up when asked
The people sitting next to you may need to get up to use the restroom, stretch or retrieve something from the overhead bin. Unless you chose a window seat, you should to be ready and willing to stand up during your flight if you are able. Sure, you could refuse and have your neighbor squeeze past you, but this can be awkward and embarrassing for everyone involved.
Engage in public displays of affection
Where PDA is and isn't acceptable is still up for debate, but on an airplane? That's most likely a no. The people around you really don't want to hear or see too much affection. Yes, that includes overly-sappy talk and yes, that definitely includes anything physical.
Put your outerwear in the overhead bin
Overhead bins fill up quickly, and passengers are often asked to gate-check bags because the overhead bins run out of space. Don't clutter up this space with items that you could easily keep at your seat, such as coats and other pieces of clothing. Those boarding after you will have enough trouble finding space for their carry-on bags. Place your coat beneath your seat or keep it on your lap.
Take up the space of the people next to you
Just as on other forms of public transportation, taking up other people's space on an airplane is not very nice. You didn't pay for that space, and you're most likely making your seatmate uncomfortable.
Forget to wear deodorant
Body odor can be embarrassing and difficult to hide. But it's especially tough to conceal when you're shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in a space with poor air circulation. Make sure to put on deodorant before you board a plane. It couldn't hurt to pack a travel-size deodorant in your carry-on, either. Even if you do everything you can to calm the chaos of a busy travel day, you could end up suffering from stress sweat. You'll be grateful you didn't pack this item in your checked bag.
Mishandle your luggage
Be extra cautious when placing items in the overhead bin and when removing them. Often, there are people seated beneath you and standing next to you in the aisle while you maneuver your heavier items. You might inadvertently end up bopping someone on the head with your luggage or dropping something on a seated passenger.
Rush to get off the plane
This seems to happen on every flight, without fail. As soon as the plane parks at the gate, everyone shoots up from their seats, grabs their bag and starts shoving towards the exits. Inevitably, this clogs up the exits and makes the deplaning process take even longer. It's best to wait your turn and patiently walk in single file towards the door.
Use your seatmates as your therapist
Talking up a storm about all of your worries to neighboring passengers can end up making your stress worse - and spreading it to the people around you. To help ease your nerves, there are a few things you can do for yourself ahead of time. Pilots recommend nervous passengers fly earlier in the day, for instance. Reserve the best seat location for anxious travelers and practice some stress-relief techniques before the day of your flight. You might find a calming playlist, for example, or practice some meditative breathing techniques.
Clap when the plane lands
No one is quite sure why people like to clap when the plane successfully lands. Is it out of respect for the pilot? Is it to celebrate their arrival at a fun destination? Landing a plane is an everyday feat with a huge success rate, and the din of all the clapping often drowns out important announcements from the flight crew, like where to go for baggage claim and gate information for those with connecting flights.
Take off your shoes
This is, by far, one of the least considerate things you can do on an airplane and it is, unfortunately, incredibly common. Do not take off your shoes during a flight, unless it's a long-haul and you're in business class. It's gross for the people sitting nearby (feet don't always smell great) and is actually pretty gross for you, too. Do you know how much bacteria is hiding out on the carpeted floor of an airplane? Believe it or not, it's one of the most germ-infested spots in an airplane cabin.
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