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5 tips for rude airline passengers

airport rude airline passengersAfter flying for a number of years, I’ve observed many rude airline passengers and bad behavior.

Sure, airline travel isn’t always fun.  Thankfully we have an airline passenger bill of rights to protect us against bad airline behavior.  When travel goes wrong and it takes 27 hours to fly from Dublin to California or have your worst travel day ever, you can either laugh or cry.

You can even have an entire airline grounded by a computer glitch and make a long travel day even longer.  And let’s be honest – flying on the airlines themselves isn’t always fun.  I’ve got quite a list of airline complaints.

However, we can’t always do anything about travel delays, bad airlines, or bad travel experiences.  Each of us has our own pet peeves when it comes to bad airline behavior from fellow passengers.

Here are a few tips for those rude airline passengers.

5 tips for rude airline passengers

From boarding to landing and everything in between, follow these tips avoid becoming that airline passenger everyone hates.

If you’re sitting in the back of the plane, take your bags with you

airplane airport rude airline passengers

If you’re in the back of the plane, don’t put your luggage in the front!

You’ve seen this passenger.  They board the plane, stick their bags in one of the overhead bins near the front of the plane, and then walk to their seat in the back.  This is rude, selfish, and actually holds up the entire flight.

If you’re sitting in the back of the plane, take your bags with you.  When you put your bags in the front of the plane, the passengers in those seats don’t have anywhere to put their bags.  Flight attendants and passengers have to scramble to find a place for luggage at the back of the plane – where you’re already sitting.  The flight is delayed taking off and passengers are delayed getting off the plane because they can’t get their bags.

For me, this is my biggest pet peeve with rude airline passengers.  Don’t be so selfish.  Flight attendants, the airlines, and other passengers would appreciate it if you would sit with your own bags.

Keep your feet to yourself

I understand that flying can be uncomfortable.  Cramped seats with little legroom means an uncomfortable flight.  However, this isn’t your home either.

I don’t like feet and I don’t want to see your feet on the flight.  If you need to take your shoes off, put socks on or make sure your feet don’t smell.

I know many people wear sandals, flip flops, jandals, and thongs (or various other open-toed shoe options) when it’s hot. I’d prefer it if you covered your feet but at least be considerate of others who may not want to see or smell your feet.

Watch your kids

I am sensitive to kids who travel.  Flying isn’t easy for adults, much less for those young kids, with shorter attention spans, and lots of energy.  However, parents who completely ignore their kids the entire flight and let them do whatever they want are not being considerate of other passengers.

If your kids are kicking the seat in front of them and screaming non-stop, at least make an attempt to comfort them and stop them from kicking the seat.

To be fair, airlines aren’t always kind or fair to families (especially with this idea of a family airline fee) but at least be mindful of your kids and their behavior.  I understand you can’t always keep kids happy but don’t let them be a complete nuisance on the flight. At least make an effort to entertain them and stop out of control behavior.

Know how to store your luggage in the overhead bin

Jeremy Branham first class airplane

Sure, this guy looks innocent enough…

Tip #1 – Put your carry on suitcase in the overhead bin vertically.

That’s how the bags were designed.  By putting them in vertically, rather than horizontally, you can fit 3 bags in there instead of two.  Also, flight attendants and other passengers don’t have to take the time to re-arrange your luggage to accommodate everyone else’s carry on.

Tip #2 – If you have two carry on items, place one underneath your seat.

This is normal airline policy.  However, it’s also courtesy to other passengers.  If you have a jacket or coat, place it in the overhead bin (after all other luggage is stored first).

I always carry a backpack plus my carry on luggage (a bigger backpack with my clothes).  The smaller backpack always goes underneath my seat.  Sure, I would love to have a lot more room for my feet but I also like keeping my bag close and consider the limited space requirements on an airplane.

I know airline fees are ridiculous at times.  However, if you are going to bring your luggage on board please know how to store it properly.  It saves space for other passengers and cuts down on boarding time.

Beware of your reclining seat

OK I get it.  I have a lot of sympathy for really tall people that have to sit in coach.  Legroom is constantly shrinking and you need more space.

However, just because you reach 10,000 feet doesn’t mean you can recline your seat into the lap of the person behind you.

Be courteous.  We are all cramped.  By all means, recline.  However, only recline as far as you need.

If you want to sleep, recline.

If you need a little more legroom, recline a little.

If it’s time to eat, put your seat up.  The passenger behind you doesn’t want your hair in their food or to smell your shampoo while eating their chicken or pasta.

As for those people running out on the tarmac to either catch or stop or plane?  Sure, I’ve only seen that in Hollywood movies but don’t do that either.  Great to watch on film but really annoying if you’re on that flight when someone tries that.

This airspace is your space, this airspace is my space

Airline mergers, fewer flights, rising costs of flights, travel delays and cancellations – we all understand the frustrations of flying.  However, let’s make the actual flying experience as painless as possible.

I’m a big fan of connecting with people when you travel and have talked about conversations with strangers on a plane.  However, be respectful of other people’s space when flying.

We can’t prevent all the other travel frustrations that come with air travel.  However, we can show respect to one another.

So remember the next time you fly, please don’t be one of those rude airline passengers.  Fly respectfully, travel passionately, and enjoy the views out of your airplane window.

Fewer rude airline passengers mean shorter boarding times, more pleasant flights, and less stress for all of us.

What habits of rude airline passengers are your biggest travel pet peeves?

airplane view rude airline passengers

Don’t be one of those rude airline passengers – enjoy the view instead!

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Filed Under: Travel Tips


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  1. Rebecca says:

    I’m weird and am almost always hot on airplanes (unless I am going more then 7 hours, which is rare these days) and I always board the plane last and I HATE when I get to my seat and someone is already in it because they think no one is going to sit there and I have to sit in a pre-warmed seat. UGH. So gross.

    Seriously people, wait until they close the door before you claim seats that aren’t yours.

    • That’s funny! I always dress warmly for planes regardless of the outside temp because airplanes tend to be cold. I’ve never thought about being hot or someone warming up my seat.

      However, it’s ridiculous for people to think they can start claiming an empty seat before the doors close. How many airplanes have empty seats these days anyways? I’ve never thought about this but for those “anti warm seat” people I can understand this being a big issue :)

  2. Brett Domue says:

    It’s my seat, not a handle / punching bag.

    This is the one that bugs me the most, and it the one and only reason I’m sometimes willing to take the last row in a cabin.

    I hate when the person behind you decides to get up, and rather than push themselves up with their armrests, they decide to grab hold of your seat back and pull themselves up to a standing position, then let go. GRRRRR!

    And then, when they’re back sitting in the seat, the constant pushing as they pound on the touch screen to select their movie or music, or worse, as they play a game. When possible, use the controller in the armrest. A little consideration, please!

    • I’ve only had this to me a couple of times. Yes it is annoying. Do you ever say anything to people when they do that? I’ve never even thought about the screen on the back of the seat. I haven’t been on a lot of flights with those but haven’t had a problem so far.

    • Gretchen says:

      Brett, I’m one of those people who NEED to grab hold of the seat in front of me in order to stand, due to severe arthritis in both of my knees.

      Grow UP.

  3. Andrea says:

    Amen! Another pet peeve of mine are people who aren’t conscious of the volume coming out of their personal headsets. This bugs me on any public transport. Not usually a problem with the ones the airlines provide, but nobody wants to hear your doof doof music when they are trying to sleep. If you’re going to deafen yourself, get some better quality headphones so the rest of us don’t have to hear your noise.

    • Oh boy, I hope this isn’t me. I do have some quality headphones but you can hear my music a little. However, the airplane itself is so loud I am sure the noise isn’t that much. Just in case, don’t sit next to me on a plane! :)

      Honestly, I would probably be just as annoyed as you. I am just not sure if I am guilty of this as well.

  4. Maria says:

    Great common sense and good manners tips that aren’t difficult to remember but sometimes easily forgotten by some in hub-bub of travel.

    • Thanks for the comment Maria. You would think these are common sense but I can’t tell you how many times (and it happens on every trip) where someone is shoving their bag in horizontally. I just shake my head. My biggest pet peeve is the bags in the front/seat in the back person. That annoys the crap out of me. Not only is it selfish but it affects many other people on the flight with their bags.

      • Maria says:

        You know Jeremy, I wish airlines would just suck it up and revert to FREE checked bags… and free peanuts. :-/

        • Yeah, that’s not going to happen now. They make too much money to give that up now. Thankfully, there are a couple of airlines that still don’t charge for packed bags like Southwest. However, I would predict higher airfares as well. With all the airline mergers, flights will be consolidated meaning fewer routes. Demand will continue to stay the same or go up so fewer flights will mean higher prices. Just more money you will have to spend for flights.

          As that happens, expect even more people to carry on their bags rather than check them.

  5. John Unger says:

    Ah yes, the overhead storage compartment wars! Some people are truly insane with grabbing spots that are nowhere near their seat. I know it isn’t possible for a lot of people, but I always use a carry-on bag that fits under the seat. You never have to worry about running out of space, so you can avoid the first 20 minutes of boarding and slide into your seat at the last possible minute.

    • John, glad I am not alone on this. It’s my biggest pet peeve. However, I always carry two bags. One always goes under my seat. The other is my luggage for my entire trip. I don’t check luggage so the overhead bin space is valuable to me. My bag always fits vertically and isn’t hard so there is always room to get more bags in there tightly. However, I am considerate of others. I never put two bags in the top and I want my bag as close to my seat as possible.

      The complete and utter selfishness of the front bag person is something that will always annoy me.

  6. Cassie says:

    Mine is actually when people aren’t extremely careful when they take their bags out of the overhead bin. I saw a guy drop his roller bag on someone’s head once, luckily he wasn’t hurt. I’m pretty weak, but I never pack anything too heavy that I can’t maneuver it overhead, though I understand with high baggage fees people are stretching the limits of what they can handle. For that reason I always offer to help older people who look like they are struggling.

    • I definitely see the danger in that. Fortunately, I haven’t seen this too often. However, it should be a rule – if you can’t lift your bag or get it down, it needs to go under your seat. I don’t think you can enforce that though. As a guy, my bag is never too heavy. Often times, I can take it out with one hand. I have seen a number of people helping others so that’s the good side of passengers. So I don’t have a real big complaint with this one. However, airlines charging passengers for carry on bags now? Don’t get me started on that one!

  7. I’ve seen plenty of articles from stewardesses etc asking passengers for understanding, but not one from another passenger. This is a good post that more people should read. We’re all in that tight (air)space together and we could all make it much more comfortable if we work together :-) Thanks for sharing!

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