The Worst Types of Airline Passengers

The Worst Types of Airline Passengers

We all know them, and honestly we’ve all probably been them at some point: the worst types of airline passengers. Why is it that when humans get packed into a tube together, tensions run high and behaviors are so much more noticeable? Expedia did a poll among travelers to find out the most aggravating types of passengers, and I pulled out a few that made me laugh so hard, and added some of my own! To make flying less painful for others and yourself, avoid being these people: (I am guilty of SO many of them!)

“The chatty Cathy” – I have made my fair share of new friends on a flight with some great conversations, but in general most people didn’t book a flight to hear your life story. If conversation strikes up naturally great, but don’t overdo it. There’s nothing worse than being stuck next to someone who will not stop talking!

“The seat kicker”  – This is usually a child, but aggravating nonetheless. I am the worst and normally turn around see who it is after a while…to show that yes, I’m noticing! (and no, this rarely has an effect on the seat-kicker :) 

“The audio insensitive” – It’s simple. Just turn the headphones down a little bit and no one gets hurt.

“The drunk” – This doesn’t happen often, but we’ve all had a tipsy/drunk passenger on our flights. It can quickly turn from funny to infuriating to have someone out of control & loud in the tight space. Don’t be that person!

“The carry-on bandit”
– This is also completely me. I always have a carry-on, plus usually a bag of food and a purse. It’s totally too much but the key is to only use one spot in the overhead bin. I put everything else at my feet, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Just don’t be the person who fills up 3 rows of the bin with your extras!

“The sneezer/cougher/sniffler” – Obviously a sneeze can’t be completely controlled, but constant sneezing and coughing throughout a flight creates anxiety in other passengers trying to stay healthy in a confined space. If you’re not feeling your best (or even have allergies), try to take some AirBorne, allergy medicine, and at the least- bring tissues and hand sanitizer to give the appearance of having the symptoms under control. Cover all of your sneezes & coughs and try to make them subtle! If nothing else, do it for the germophobes like me :)

“The armrest hog”
– I notice this more flying next to Chase than strangers, because I’m a lefty and he’s right-handed…so I am constantly nudging his arm away as I work on my laptop. With strangers, just be polite and switch off or find another comfortable spot for your arm. It’s not worth an awkward standoff all flight long.

“The seat-recliner” – Okay is it time to create a standing rule about this? I personally love to recline my seat, but I hardly do because I feel so guilty. What if we all just reclined at once at the beginning of the flight as a synchronized movement? Haha you want to be comfortable, but get a read on the person behind you (and if their tray table is open with a drink, etc) before reclining.

“The impatient line jumper” – Few things ruffle my feathers more than someone rushing to deplane for no reason. We are all in a hurry, and unless someone has an emergency or extremely close connection due to a delay (which are both justified), then they need to cool their jets – pun intended. Never barge ahead of someone if you’re in a row behind them. The plane should empty out row by row, and when people rush by me I take it personally! Deep breaths.

“The pungent foodie” – I am always STARVING on planes (especially now being pregnant!) but it’s important to carefully choose the food you bring onto a plane. Hint: a tuna fish sandwich or hard boiled eggs may not be your best bet. Try to bring food that won’t be messy, loud, or smelly to eat around others. Planes are already stuffy, and you don’t want to add a strong odor to the air. (This goes for bad breath and body odor too…bring gum and deodorant if you must!)

“The back seat grabber” – Another one that kills me! This is when someone grabs the back of your chair as they enter or exit their seat. They usually don’t realize they are jerking your head back with them (and sometimes pulling your hair). Since it has happened to me enough times, I’m always careful not to use the seat as balance as I sit down…as tempting as it is as you slide back into the tight space.

“The PDA-ers” – I know it sounds Scroogeish to call out lovebirds, but I recently had a 3 hour flight next to a couple who didn’t stop loudly kissing the entire time. I wish I were exaggerating…it was almost unbelievable! The smacking got so obnoxious that I started to cough loudly (yes, I was being that passive aggressive person) but they weren’t even phased from their bubble. I knew it was bad when other passengers began to turn and look to see where the endless kissing noises were coming from. I know travel can be romantic, but keep it together people!

“The small bladder” – GUILTY! I try to book aisle seats every time because I know there’s a high chance I’ll have to get up and use the bathroom at least once during the flight (especially now being pregnant!) It’s understandable for anyone to be able to use the restroom anytime they need, but if they are in the window seat and tapping you every 20 minutes it can be a bit much. When I’ve been trapped in the window seat I’ve held it as long as possible, sometimes climbed over people who are sleeping, (better than waking them!) and taken my time walking, stretching, and using the bathroom so that I am okay for a good amount of time when I sit back down.

“The no-shoes guy” – We all love to kick our shoes off at the end of a long day when we get home. One thing to note: the plane is not your home! On super long flights I have seen people change into slippers or take shoes off with their socks on which is okay, but in general it’s best practice to keep them on (and keep the smell away). No matter what you do, DO NOT go to the bathroom without shoes on. That should be illegal.

“The snorer” – Props to the people who can fall into a deep sleep on a flight, but when they are drooling/snoring/slumping on your shoulder right next to you, it can turn ugly. If you’re an easy sleeper, try to bring things like a neck pillow or hooded sweatshirt to keep your sleeping as private (and silent) as possible. 

“The seat switcher” – Chase and I always try to book our seats together, but sometimes they get mixed up and we’re apart. There’s no problem in waiting for boarding to finish and asking the flight attendant if there are two seats together, but don’t just ask a stranger to give up their aisle for your middle seat in the middle of boarding. It puts them in an awkward place and slows the boarding process. If you have an aisle seat and are switching into a middle or window, it’s another story…you’re offering someone a free upgrade and that is fair game! Just explain that you and your companion would like to sit together and don’t be demanding. People are usually understanding!

“The nosy one” – You know them…the person peering over at your phone or computer screen as you read this! This drives me insane and makes me feel paranoid. I always see gazes shifting in my peripheral and feel so uncomfortable. It’s a tight space and people are working on their own things, so don’t stare. And I guess if you do, at least be sneaky about it! ;)

“The impolite” – A flat-out rude passenger takes it to a new level and worsens the mood of the entire plane! The absolute worst is when someone is impolite to a flight attendant. Do NOT take out your travel frustrations on other passengers or those working hard to make the flight happen! You will not make friends this way!

“The Grump” – Though all of these behaviors are annoying, nothing is worse than the complete ornery GRUMP sighing, making comments, acting annoyed, and just making people feel bad. If these behaviors happen around you, try to take a deep breath, put headphones in, and laugh it off. Sometimes I can’t help but glance at the person as a hint to them, but in general try to be kind and understanding. We’ve all done it, and you never know when it’s someone’s first flight – or they’re having a bad day – or something else we don’t understand. Remember that we’re all just humans flying through the sky together … and life isn’t so bad.

PS..I wrote this while ON a plane from Helsinki to Munich, so it is extra realistic.
Thank you to a few passengers who inspired some of these ;) haha

IMG_5297Any others to add? Which of these have you been guilty of? 

14 thoughts on “The Worst Types of Airline Passengers”

  • Amen to all of this! The barefoot or socked bathroom goer is so gross to me and I see it ALL THE TIME on long haul flights. Also after being pregnant I think that it should be illegal for anyone to eat fish on a plane.

  • Omg, I am so the snorer and the sneezer/cougher haha, but to be fair these are from health issues. I have bad allergies so always sneeze (even when I use anti-allergy tablets), and I have huge oversized lingual tonsils that cause me to cough all the time – even though I’m not actually sick and it isn’t contagious! I always feel so bad coughing and just wanna tell the whole plane/train ‘IT’S OK, IT’S NOT CONTAGIOUS, I JUST HAVE A HUGE LUMP IN MY THROAT’ haha! Because of the lump and other ENT issues, I snore and stop breathing when I sleep (like sleep apnea), so I’m a *terrible* sleeper, but I fall asleep really easily. It’s so embarrassing when I wake myself up on a plane from my own snoring :/ ugh.

    Basically I’m a total disaster to fly with :P

    C x

    • haha not a disaster at all, but those issues are probably a hassle for you! you’re a trooper! at least you can fall asleep on a plane ;)

  • I cannot stand when I can hear people’s music through their headphones (and not just in airplanes–it always happens to me in the library). It literally one of my biggest pet peeves! The worst was when I was on a flight recently and a guy proceeded to watch Kill Bill on his iPad without even bothering to plug in headphones!

    • okay SAME! it is the worst in any quiet space where you have to be close to people. such a pet peeve made even worse on a plane!

  • Once on a red-eye flight from Atlanta to Wilmington (1.5 hr flight), two college age kids were playing a travel game that required them to roll a dice. They played the game the entire flight. Even though it was a short flight, you don’t want to hear dice rolling on a quiet plane.

    I found your blog via Instagram and enjoy reading all of your travels. My husband and I traveled often before kiddos were welcomed into our lives :) That will all change next summer when we’ll be in Germany for 4+ weeks while he’s teaching a Marketing course (he’s a professor) with a 4 and 2 year old in tow :)

  • Haha these are so funny! It is actually hard to believe that there are people out there that are like some of these, like who takes off their shoes and goes barefoot on a plane? I mean, yuck! Anyway this gave me a good laugh, so thank you for sharing!

  • Haha these are so funny! I have been guilty of ALOT of those! I think of one specific trip Rob and I took to Cabo. We were still in total honeymoon phase and were kissing the entire time. Its even better than the people next to you though. I was sitting in the seat IN FRONT of him! I was literally turning behind my seat or going to sit on his lap to make out. Although this sounds totally outlandish we were on a completely spring break bound flight and the 20 people around us were playing flip cup with alcohol and smashing their tray tables. HAHAHAH. I haven’t thought of that in years, one of the most absurd I’ve ever been on!
    Xo, Tara

  • I agree with all of these! I fly a ton of long haul flights for work and my least favorite person is the aggressive TV screen poker. Don’t they realize that’s the back of my head? Those people get told off immediately. I’m not putting up with head poking for ten hours :)

    <3 Vicki @ Wilde in the World

  • Oh yeah, I’ve absolutely been next to all of these people! The chatty kathy is the most common one for me. With the last flight I was on, I could probably tell you the name of every single person the lady had ever met in her life. There was nowhere to escape!

  • These are all so true. I hear ya! When my hubby and I (and now our child) are accidentally separated we usually just talk with each other as we find our respective seats and maybe pass a bag or book over to the other person, making it clear we are together and are splitting up but actually are together (passive aggressive maybe? Haha). Surprisingly, people will sometimes offer to switch without us even asking! (it does help if you have a better seat though!). I used to be so bothered by people (often children) kicking my seat, but all it takes is traveling once or twice with a child of your own and your perspective totally switches. Curious to hear your thoughts on this once babe arrives! We just flew 5 flights this past week with our toddler and were so grateful for the passengers who “befriended” our son, made faces with him, and didn’t roll their eyes when he pounded on the seat behind them. So much better than a toddler meltdown!

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