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View down the center aisle of an airplane full of passengers
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7 Things You Should Never Do on a Plane

SmarterTravel

Flying means spending lots of time packed very closely among strangers—strangers who at 30,000 feet in the sky, have no escape from you. Which means, any bad behavior on your part can have an immediate and unpleasant effect on your fellow passengers. Here are seven things you should never do on a plane—or you’ll face fines, getting kicked off the flight, or at the very least, judgement from the other flyers. 

Refuse to Wear a Mask

Woman wearing a mask next to a window on a plane at sunset
New Africa | Adobe Stock

Federal law requires everyone aged two or older to wear a mask while aboard a plane. Masks must be worn over your nose and mouth, and must meet the CDC’s requirements for what defines a mask—meaning, you can’t throw a pair of underwear on your face and try to fly, as one passenger did recently. Note that in addition to the CDC mask rules, some airlines (especially international ones) have stricter guidelines regarding acceptable mask types and will only allow surgical or N95 masks (and not fabric styles).

Failure to comply with this rule will result in you getting kicked off of the flight, fined up to $3,000, or even banned from the airline.

Drink Your Own Alcohol

Although it’s perfectly legal to bring your own alcohol aboard a plane (as long as it’s under 3.4 ounces or purchased in the airport after security), it’s actually against the law to consume it. Passengers can only drink alcoholic beverages served to them by flight attendants, who are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and cut off flyers who have had too much to drink. With alcohol-fueled in-flight incidents on the rise, many flight attendants are cracking down on passengers who attempt to serve themselves alcohol onboard. 

Penalties for drinking your own alcohol on a plane can be severe—the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently proposed a $12,500 fine against a passenger who brought his own alcohol on board and continued trying to drink it (including by sneaking into the bathroom to mix a drink without being seen) after a flight attendant told him it was prohibited.

Behave Inappropriately to Flight Attendants or Passengers

Woman wearing a face mask receiving a cup of coffee from a flight attendant on a plane
Viacheslav Lakobchuk | Adobe Stock

We hope we don’t have to remind you to behave kindly toward flight attendants and other passengers on your flight, but you should know that if you lose your temper on board, there’s a no-tolerance policy for aggressive or inappropriate behavior on planes.

Flight attendants won’t hesitate to zip-tie or duct tape unruly passengers to their seats to restrain them until the plane can safely land—and you’ll be met by law enforcement on the tarmac if that happens. 

Wear Something Inappropriate

It may surprise you to learn this, but airlines actually have dress codes, which can usually be found by reading the Conditions of Carriage. For example, American Airlines’ dress code specifies, “Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed.”

Plenty of people have learned this the hard way by being kicked off of a plane for wearing clothing that the airline deemed too revealing or otherwise inappropriate.

Introduce Strong Smells Into the Cabin

That same Conditions of Carriage that defines what you shouldn’t wear on a plane also has an important note about odor. American Airlines’ specifies, “Be respectful that your odor isn’t offensive (unless it’s caused by a disability or illness)” and many other airlines have the same clause. 

In addition to making sure that your personal odor isn’t offensive, be respectful when choosing what food to bring on a plane (maybe leave the tuna fish at the gate) and what activities to engage in—now is not the time to paint your nails, and a seatback tray table is not a diaper changing area.  

Joke About Threats

You might think it’s obvious that you’re joking if you make a sarcastic comment about having a weapon with you, but flight attendants have to take your remarks very seriously. For example, on an Air Canada flight, a passenger was asked about her bag, which did not entirely fit in the overhead bin. The passenger joked, “There’s a bomb in it”, which then triggered a flight delay of over two hours and a closure of the entire terminal while a bomb squad searched the premises. 

Keep any comments about weapons, fights, or anything else offensive to yourself aboard a plane.

Attempt to Vape or Smoke

Surachetsh | Adobe Stock

Smoke from e-cigarettes might seem less noticeable than regular cigarettes, but it can still set off the fire alarms on planes, causing a flight to be diverted out of safety concerns. Or worse, cause an actual fire on the plane, like this malfunctioning e-cigarette did on an American Airlines flight. All forms of smoking, including e-cigarettes, are banned on planes. 

Passengers who attempt to sneak a smoke can face fines of up to $4,000, be removed from the plane, and/or be arrested.

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