Nine flying pet peeves on planes – from passengers not putting devices on flight mode to being rude to cabin crew

How many times have you been on a flight where someone has hogged the bathroom or slammed back their seat without warning? We look at some of the most annoying things passengers do at 35,000 feet

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 6:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 8:54pm

Flying through the air in an aluminium tube weighing more than 80 tonnes is a modern technological marvel our ancestors could have only dreamed of. But the thrill of defying gravity and reaching the other side of the globe in less than a day is sometimes dampened for those sitting in characteristically cramped economy class conditions.

As airlines think of new ways to squeeze in more passengers, and maximise profits from every square centimetre of a cabin, a crushing lack of personal space and hours spent sandwiched next to often inconsiderate strangers isn’t quite everyone’s vision of glamour.

This week, travel company Expedia released the results of a survey that looked at travel behaviour, including people’s pet peeves when they are at 35,000 feet (11,000 metres).

“Whether you’ve been on one vacation or 100, you’ve likely experienced some form of annoying behaviour while travelling,” says Nisreene Atassi, Expedia’s global head of communications. Unsurprisingly, seat kickers ranked as the ultimate worst passenger to encounter during a flight.

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The study, carried out online during February and March by research firm Northstar Research, drew more than 18,200 responses from 23 countries. As well as the seat kicker, other offenders included stinky passengers, inattentive parents, those who violate others’ personal space, or the “audio insensitive” – those who are inconsiderate with their noise levels.

But there are more flying gripes that deserve to be on the list. We polled some of the Post’s frequent fliers to produce an expanded list.

1. Allergic to seat belts

Mercifully, flying is one of the safest ways to travel and it’s unlikely that not wearing a seat belt during taxiing would result in injury. But that doesn’t mean you should be unbuckling the second the wheels either leave or touch the tarmac. You’ve got nowhere to go! Rules are there for a reason.

2. Turn mobile devices to flight mode

Cabin crew members have enough on their plates just checking the doors are locked and everyone’s seat belts are fastened before take-off, without having to chase people to switch their phones to flight mode. It’s not uncommon to see someone sending a stealthy WhatsApp message as the plane begins to accelerate for take-off – especially now that many carriers offer Wi-fi on-board. Why not just enjoy being disconnected for a few hours?

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3. Safety? So what …

“I don’t need to watch, I’ve seen that safety briefing a hundred times,” you may think. While many airlines play their safety briefing on the personal media screens of each passenger, it’s still baffling to see how many people go out of their way to ignore it.

Sometimes it’s hard to hear the briefing above the chatter from inattentive fellow passengers. Often, universal safety briefing features are ignored during the panic of an emergency, as seen last month in the Southwest Airlines engine explosion incident, where selfies from the cabin showed none of the passengers were wearing their oxygen mask correctly.

Pay attention: it could save your life.

4. Staying rooted

No window-seat passengers enjoys having to clamber over two strangers to get to the aisle. Even at the best of times, some degree of bodily contortion is required to navigate knees and the reclined seats of the row in front, but your journey to the aisle is always made worst when passengers fail to budge when you are trying to make your move.

Don’t take it as a personal affront if someone wants to get out of their seat to stave off deep-vein thrombosis or use the toilet. On the other hand, if you know you have a weak bladder, avoid the window seat.

5. Rudeness to cabin crew

Many of us will have encountered a brusque, snooty, or perhaps even condescending flight attendant on the odd occasion. But the solution is never to snap back or be that bolshie passenger who thinks they’re entitled to better service than everyone else.

They say you can tell a lot about a person from how they treat service staff – cabin crew are no different. Take a deep breath, show some respect, and thank them for their service.

6. The person who turns the light on

On many planes, the lights above a row of seat are each angled to shine upon an individual seat, but turning your personal light on in an otherwise dark cabin is a sure-fire way to irk those trying to sleep nearby. Let’s face it: when was the last time you read a book on a plane anyway?

7. Not checking before raising or lowering your seat

Dropping your seat back immediately upon take-off is a flying gripe that arises time and time again, but raising it suddenly is another recipe for a high-altitude brawl.

Those who don’t check whether the passenger behind them has a tray full of food before suddenly raising or lowering their seat back are looking for trouble. The worst scenario is after dinner when coffee and tea are served. A quick glance would save someone’s lap from getting burned.


8. The toilet hogger

Yes, we understand, flying can play havoc with people’s digestive systems. But those who head into the bathroom at one of the busiest times and proceed to pluck their eyebrows, cut their toenails, apply a face mask, ponder their existence, or who knows what else while a queue of cross-legged fliers assembles outside the cubicle are high on the list of most inconsiderate passengers.

No one is calling for a ban on number twos, but a bit of urgency would be appreciated.

9. Litterbugs

As weary passengers file out of the aircraft at the end of a long-haul flight, they leave behind a depressing scene. Broken headphones, crushed snacks, plastic wrappers, newspapers, and even diapers lie strewn across the compartment in a scene that has sadly become an accepted by-product of modern flying.

While airlines don’t help by, for example, bringing passengers a separate cup for each drink, and wrapping reusable items, like blankets and headphones, in plastic bags, it’s not difficult to leave the area where you sat in a reasonable condition and not looking like it was recently vacated by a party of chimpanzees.

Fold up your blanket, gather your rubbish, reject that extra cup (or bring your own reusable bottle), and make use of any in-flight bins.

You probably have some gripes of your own to add to this list …