5 Things Annoying Passengers Should Never Do On A Plane

There are some annoying things passengers should just *never* do on a plane. I should know. In my 15-year travel career, I’ve taken hundreds of flights, clocking almost a million miles in coach, business and first class on domestic and international routes, and I’ve seen some unbelievable things annoying passengers do on a plane. In fact, passenger shaming is on the rise, which should give reason to wear a halo, but it still doesn’t stop the unruly.

I like to analogize a flight like going to a movie. There are people who, bless their hearts, don’t turn off their phone, text during the movie, talk, shove their feet into your seat, maybe eat nachos painfully loud and turn into giggle monsters by finding pivotal, dramatic scenes really funny!

Air India economy class
Packed flight on Air India.

You can have a similar situation on a flight, where passengers do things that may disrupt other passengers and flight crew—and, more often than not, they have absolutely no idea they are doing it.

Anyway, I’m aware not everyone flies on a regular basis, like my parents, who I had the interesting/entertaining/mindboggling experience of flying with from Atlanta to Boston once. Often, new passengers don’t know some of their actions can bother other passengers, so I wanted to highlight some things a passenger might do that can be easily fixed.

In my opinion, these are the top five things that everyone should be aware of not to do and, once downloaded in their brain, it may help them and others to fully sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

5 Things Annoying Passengers Do On A Plane – But Shouldn’t 

1. Leaving your window shade open the entire flight.

Glare from the window.

It’s very rare I sit in the window seat (I’m more of an aisle person), but when I do, I keep the window shade down, like most passengers on a flight. Why is this important?

When you’re flying 20,000 feet high in the sky during the day, you’re really close to the sun. That sun glares right through the window in a blinding way. This is especially challenging when you’re trying to rest or when the flight has seat-back entertainment.

 If you’re sitting in an aisle, you will definitely get that glare on your screen, which compromises the viewing, and that brightness can stretch as far as the other side of the plane.

What’s crazy is that the passenger is never actually looking out the window (the glare is too strong). There’s no official rule to having the window shade open or closed during a flight, but it’s generally understood to have it closed (outside of take off and landing) so no one is disturbed. It’s one of the things annoying passengers do on a plane, but easily fixable.

2. Reclining your seat (arguable here).

Have you ever been on a flight and, once the plane hits cruising altitude, the person sitting in front of you reclines his seat all the way back, totally hijacking your space? It’s brutal. It’s worse in coach, where the seats are already tiny, so if you’re on your laptop, you have to basically work in a weird sitting position.

Anyway, there’s really not much you can do as all flights offer a standard number of inches for seat recline (doesn’t it feel like airlines never tested these reclined seats out in a trial before taking flight?).

Even Conde Nast Traveler points out that seats are getting smaller, yet nothing changes with the amount of recline offered, so seats are *really* in your face these days.

Delta One on 757-200
Delta One on 757-200

I’ve been a victim in both ends of the dilemma. Passengers in front of me will recline the entire time but I also had a passenger behind me go nuts once because my seat was reclined, and I had to argue it was the standard recline on all the seats, not just mine. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s the airline!

Anyway, because the recline is a standard on most planes, I understand it’s just something you have to deal with… although it can be challenging. It’s always best to determine who’s sitting behind you (if it’s a small child or someone sleeping, it’s fine).

3. Standing near the gate before boarding when it’s not your time.

I hear my flight called. I’ll stand right at the gate!

Passengers love crowding near the boarding gate, even if they are in the last boarding zone and the gate agent announces to not crowd near the gate.

Listen, the plane is not going to leave without you. I promise. Flights can be chaotic from the getgo when everyone decides to crowd around the gate. It’s why many airlines have implemented designated stations or lines to stand in your boarding group.

If you stick to your boarding group, the boarding process will be a lot smoother, and it’s a great way to eliminate being an annoying passenger before you get on your flight!

4. Using the first-class bathroom when you’re booked in coach.

Qantas Airways

When you gotta go, you gotta go. I do it all the time if there’s a line in the back, and if I’m flying first, I don’t care too much about it.

All I can say is that I’ve seen first-class passengers get snippy, especially if they have to wait in line because someone in coach is in the forward bathroom. It makes sense. They bought a first-class ticket (or upgraded with miles) to have those perks in first class, so, sure, it will obviously irk them.

I think the interesting thing is that most planes only have 2 bathrooms in the back for 100+ passengers, whereas the front has 1 bathroom for like 20 passengers. The math is just crazy here!

5. Moving overhead bin luggage.

New Delta mask policy

Among the five on the list, nothing can be as annoying as a passenger moving your luggage to make room for theirs. It’s fine if passengers move luggage around to squeeze their luggage in, but actually taking out your carry-on luggage to put it in another bin isn’t cool!

Those are the top 5 most annoying things passengers do. Obviously, there are worst things people do, but these are easily fixable and mostly things people have no idea annoy other passengers.

Have a great flight!

More Travelbinger stories:

Inside Delta’s new Terminal D at LGA Airport

I took my first flight in 16 months – here’s what flying post Covid-19 is like

7 reasons why train travel is better than flying on a plane

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed at over 600 hotels and clocked millions of air miles. He currently lives in New York City.

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