Worst Passengers – Top Seven Biggest Annoyances on Planes

If you think shopping for a good price for airline tickets is annoying (though we do our best to make it easy on FareCompare – and even fun), wait ’til you get on the plane. Or even, before you get on the plane.

Maybe you heard about the man who tried to fly out of Dulles recently with a couple of snakes in his luggage. It should go without saying that TSA officers deprived this fellow of his scaly traveling companions.

Good. I hate it when there are snakes on a plane, but heads are even worse.

What’s Worse – Heads or Snakes on a Plane?

And I’ll get to the heads in just a sec. They play a part in this: my take on bad-things-people-do-on-planes. Oh, not truly evil stuff like bringing bombs aboard; I’m talking about everyday sins or plain bad manners that make flights so uncomfortable for the rest of us.

While I’m sure you have never been guilty of any kind of breach of plane etiquette, I thought you might enjoy reading about those who do act like idiots. So allow me to present…

The Seven Deadly Sins of Air Travel Passengers

#1 – Heads Will Roll

The Sin: Improper Packing

Ah, yes, the heads-on-a-plane story. Poor Southwest had to deal with the fallout from that, when an air shipment of human heads (about 60 of them, to be used for medical research purposes) were discovered on a plane. The heads were fine, it’s just that they were improperly packed and labeled (let’s just say they used an awful lot of duct tape).

There’s a lesson in that for all of us: pack right, and pack light. And use a carryon – this one simple act can save a family of four $200 on a flight. And if you must check a bag, keep it under 50 lbs – the overweight bag fees are a killer.

#2 – Flight Attendants May Turn Mean if Provoked

The Sin: Rudeness to Flight Crews

I turned to Martha Stewardess for help with this one, and don’t let her amusing airline industry blog fool you, she’s a veteran professional who has seen it all in the air.

Martha would be happy if she got a simple “please” or “thank you” from her passengers, but she doesn’t hear that too often – so she remembers polite passengers. One was a lady who she saw talking to a gate agent after a flight; the woman’s cell phone was missing and she wanted to return to the plane to look for it. She was told no, because she needed an escort and all the flight attendants, like Martha, were off the clock. Martha immediately grabbed the woman, took her onboard and retrieved the missing cell.

However – when the man in first class threw a fit because Martha didn’t have his choice of entree, she said (loudly enough for all to hear), ‘Sir, I said we were out of chicken, not that we’ve lost power in both engines’.” Gotcha. A good laugh was had by all.

#3 – Don’t Become a YouTube Sensation

The Sin: Losing Control on the Plane

I think we can all agree that kids yelling on planes isn’t pleasant, but it’s so much worse when the screamers are adults.

Like the bizarre incident of the fellow sitting on a plane shouting over and over, “I’m going to die! I’m going to die!” I know he was scared – maybe he was having a panic attack or something – but the middle of a flight is not the time to discover your fear of flying.

No, I wasn’t there but yes, I know all about it, because video of this is plastered all over the internet. If you don’t want to become a YouTube star, you’re just going to have to suffer in silence.

#4 – Pigs at the Bin Trough

The Sin: Abusing the Bin Space

We’ve all seen these bin hogs, who take up way more than their share of a plane’s overhead compartment bag space. My two biggest pets peeves involve people who pull your carefully folded blazer out of the bin to make room for their own things, then stuff it back in, rendering the jacket completely unwearable – and those who try to jam too-big bags into too-small spaces, knowing that a flight attendant will remove and check the bag, at no charge to them.

Mostly what I hate is how long it takes the bin hogs to get themselves situated, time that could be spent getting us to our destination, with an on-time arrival.

#5 – Passenger Overflow

The Sin: Abusing the Seat Space

The subject is, are you too fat to fly – and here’s a good rule of thumb: if the bulk of passenger #1 overflows into the seat of passenger #2, passenger #1 should buy two seats.

Here’s another rule of thumb: if you’re sitting in an aisle seat and the flight attendant can’t get the cart past you, you should buy a second seat (and this is what I’m talking about).

Personally, I don’t care how much you weigh – my friends come in all shapes and sizes – but space on a plane is tight, and if it’s too tight for comfort (your’s and your seatmate’s), buy that second seat.

#6 – Going Natural on a Plane

The Sin: Bare Feet on Seats and in the Aisles

Bare feet? Fine with me – if you keep them to yourself.

It’s the people who feel they must prop their bare feet against seatbacks, or worse, on someone else’s armrest, that gets me irritated. Naturally, the worst transgressors have feet that don’t appear to have seen soap and water in awhile (believe it or not, odor issues can get you kicked off a flight).

Check out the Jetiquette site, which features an “investigative report” (complete with “hidden video”) of barefoot people waiting in line to use a plane’s lavatory. Ugh.

#7 – Drooling on Seatmates

The Sin: Inappropriate Napping

Please – don’t fall asleep on your seatmate. Especially if you snore. Or drool.

Besides, what if nobody wakes you up? You could wind up like that poor woman who slept through her plane’s landing – and kept right on sleeping, ’til the cleaning crew woke her up four hours later.


Published: June 23, 2010