The hassles of airline travel are many and well-documented; contemporary stand-up comedy was practically built on the subject. And invasive airport security has been everybody’s bane since 9/11. But while airlines shoulder the blame for much of the misery—departing late, idling endlessly on the tarmac, and stubbornly refusing to communicate with passengers in each scenario—the vast majority of irritations associated with airline travel can be traced directly to your fellow passengers.
Alternately guilty of boorish behavior or simple cluelessness, that shorts-wearing, foam-finger-wielding Jane and John Doe heading to Myrtle Beach for the Big Holiday bring the misery like no one else. Toss in a couple of unattended rug-rats, an incessant talker, and an arm-rest hog and you’ve got yourself unfettered agony—agony for which you paid dearly and had to show up two hours early.
On the cusp of the summer-travel season, we tally the worst 10 offences committed by airline travelers. As with our recent TTC bad-behavior round-up, if you recognize yourself on this list, know that your fellow travellers loathe you. But it’s never too late to change.
1. Lousy seat-pickers
Like many things on this list, this offence is so simple to correct yet so consistently not done. If you know you’re going to sleep on the flight, choose a window seat. If, like me, you have a hamster-sized bladder, pick the washroom-accessible aisle seat. But don’t sleep soundly in an aisle seat or elect a window seat if you’re tossing back beer. And if you’re unlucky enough to be stuck in the wretched middle seat, grin and bear it, preferably awake and vigilantly alert to potential seatmate activity while silently vowing, “never again.” Given that seat pre-selection is available either at the time of purchase or online 24 hours before a flight, there is no excuse for your sorry ass landing in the wrong chair.
2. Seat recliners
It’s a scientific fact that economy seats in a reclined position net the recliner an extra quarter-inch of space while robbing the passenger behind him/her of approximately two feet. If you are seated in economy, keep that seat arrow-straight at all times. And if you’ve reclined a seat during meal service, you are disgusting, abhorrent, and definitely hell-bound.
Largely the domain of children and old timers struggling from their window seats to the washroom for the fourth time, this insipid flight crime is the quintessential rage slow-build: the more it happens over the course of a flight, the more incensed you will become until you finally blow, at which point your tiny and/or frail offender will look at you doe-eyed and blameless, making you feel even worse. Don’t do it. Nurse that rage like a bone-dry vodka martini which, ironically, is about the only thing capable of assuaging this woe.
4. Unsupervised children
Not to be confused with unaccompanied minors (who are generally either too terrified or too spellbound by their flight-attendant minders to cause a fuss), these sticky-fisted, seat-kicking, squirming, loudly la-la-la-ing beasts are only marginally less vile than their drunk/lazy/negligent parents. News flash: this isn’t daycare, so control your damn kid. And yes, I do have some masking tape you can borrow.
So the pilot landed the plane safely. Great! That is, however, his or her job and he or she is highly trained and remunerated for doing it. Unless you’re also prepared to boo as your disabled aircraft plummets headlong into the ocean, leave the editorializing to the theatre.
Does this really need elaboration? Okay: “This thing here is called a book. This is my face in the book. I am reading. Please leave me alone.”
7. People having sex
Sigh. With all the air-travel transgressions begging for exposure, I honestly never would have thought to include this—that whole mile-high-club thing is so 1970s and blessedly, I’ve never witnessed any airline sex directly. But judging by multiple responses I received to a Facebook query, hand-jobs are happening 33,000 feet above the Atlantic at an alarming rate. Really people?! Ew… just… ew.
8. Inconsiderate overhead cabin–bin stowers
Where to begin? If you are seated in row 28, your overhead bag belongs above your row, not up front above row 11, despite the convenient access it gives you as you deplane. Yes, I do mind if you squish my neatly folded jacket into the corner of the bin as you roughly heave in your massive bag (which should have been checked anyway). If you really, truly need to access whatever’s in the bag in the bin 14 times during the flight, maybe consider keeping it with you. And if that mofo falls on my head one more time, I will hurt you.
9. Impatient deplaners
This one comes straight from the top—my esteemed editor, who accepted this story pitch on one condition: “You have to include people who try to nudge their way down the aisle during deplaning before people in rows in front of them can get out.” (Caveat: If you’re in a hurry to catch a connecting flight, politely announce this fact to the passengers before you, and they’ll likely do their best to accommodate you; otherwise, you just look like a selfish jerk who thinks their time is more important than everyone else’s.) To this, let’s also shame those fools who practically trample toddlers to board the plane first. Are you really in that much of a hurry to be crammed into your tiny, unforgiving seat? Go buy some breath mints first and chill the frig out already.
Who are also, without fail, incessant talkers, frequent bathroom users, noisy headphone-wearers, snorers, arm-rest hogs, seat recliners, sprawlers, shade shutters, and messy eaters. We all love alcohol but please, save the heavy boozing for Halifax or London or wherever it is you’re headed. Thank you and enjoy your flight.
What kind of behaviour annoys you the most on flights? Let us know in the comments section below.