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The Most Offensive Things You Can Do on a Plane

Sitting in cramped economy seats forces us into unusually close proximity with strangers for hours on end. The tight quarters, unpredictable delays, and lack of personal space can fray anyone’s nerves. That’s why it’s especially important that we treat our fellow passengers with courtesy and respect when flying.

Some in-flight etiquette violations are worse than others, so you’ll want to make sure you avoid these behaviors next time you fly to prevent drawing the ire of everyone else in your row. 

The flight deal site Going surveyed thousands of its members to determine the most annoying things you can do on a plane. Keep this list handy for your next trip so you know what not to do.

Not Wearing a Mask While Sick

a man in a plaid shirt coughs on the plane in a window seat.
andrey | Adobe Stock

If you’re coughing or visibly sick, your seatmates would appreciate that you keep your germs to yourself. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that not wearing a mask while sick is the “worst offense you can commit in air travel right now.”

Not Using Headphones

No one wants to hear your music, show or sounds from a video game. Not wearing headphones was voted as the second worst etiquette violation flyers commit. 

Kicking/Pulling the Back of the Seat in Front of You

Follow these two simple rules the next time you fly: 

  1. If your kid is kicking the seat in front of them, make them stop that rude behavior immediately. 
  2. When you stand up, don’t yank down on the seat in front of you to help you get up. Lift yourself using the armrests of your own seat instead.

Reclining Without Consideration

We won’t get into the reclining on a plane debate, but most flyers can agree on one thing—if you’re going to put your seat back, quickly look behind you and make sure you won’t be smashing into someone’s laptop or disturbing their meal before you recline. 

Standing Up as Soon as the Flight Lands

We know you’re dying to get off the plane as fast as possible, but seven percent of flyers surveyed think it’s rude to stand up and rush into the aisle as soon as the plane lands and before the door opens. 

Taking off Your Shoes

Six percent of passengers surveyed implore everyone on the plane to keep their shoes on (and any feet odors to themselves). 

Hogging the Middle Armrest

The aisle seat passenger gets easy access in and out of the row, the window seat passenger gets a view and a place to lean their head, so it’s only fair that the middle seat passenger gets access to both armrests. 

Gate Licing

The act of crowding the gate before it’s your turn to board is so prevalent that people in the airline industry have a nickname for it—gate licing. We get that you want to be first in your group to board, but don’t block others from getting through while you wait. 

Wearing Strong Fragrance 

For flyers who are sensitive to scents, being stuck next to someone who has liberally applied perfume or cologne can be a nightmare. Skip the fragrance next time you fly (or at least go significantly lighter than you normally would). 

Talking 

Man is listening to music in headphones and chatting in social network via mobile phone, during his flying in an airplane. Hipster guy is watching video on cell telephone , while is sitting in plane
BullRun | Adobe Stock

If someone has their headphones in or an eyemask on, it’s a pretty clear cue that they’re not looking to engage in friendly conversation. Pay attention to verbal hints (like giving short replies and not asking questions) and non-verbal cues (reading a book) before trying to engage your seatmate in conversation—or just err on the side of caution and let them fly in silence.

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