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6 Rude Airplane Habits You Need to Stop ASAP

Being rude is not going to get you to your destination faster.

airplane safetyAkimov Igor/Shutterstock

Verbal attacks

From rude comments to outright sexual harassment, flight attendants are frequently mistreated, said Scott Keyes from Scott’s Cheap Flights. Ironically, it’s by the people they’re charged with keeping safe as they fly around the globe, he said. “Everyone should be treated with kindness and generosity. For some reason, many people seem to think these societal mores don’t apply in airports or at 35,000 feet,” Keyes said. Other employees, like gate agents, are frequently verbally attacked because of factors outside their control—like airline bag fees or a blizzard in Chicago causing hours of delays, he noted. Being rude is just one of the biggest pet peeves of airline attendants.

Airplane SeatEric Dunetz/Shutterstock

Shoving the seat

On most accounts this is accidental, but fidgeting in your seat feels like a small earthquake to the person in front of you. In a 2018 Expedia study for global travel etiquette, the seat kicker ranked in the top five most annoying habits. Airplanes have to be as light as possible, so that means that every movement is amplified. For those leggy passengers, find out which airplane seat is the best suited for you.

Checking trip details. Full length of serious senior wife and husband are standing with suitcases at international airport and looking at flight tickets with concentration. Copy space in left sideOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Having a short temper

Seasoned travelers have become airport security screening pros, knowing exactly what to do with their shoes and laptop, Keyes said. Alternatively, most people are not. In 2017, the majority of Americans didn’t take a single flight, Keyes said. This lack of flying could be from fear of what happens to your body when you’re in an airplane.

“The process of going through airport security is not at all intuitive, and feels highly stressful for new flyers, especially with a line of people behind them,” Keyes said. “On my last flight, I witnessed a passenger in line yelling at an elderly couple, who clearly were not regular travelers, to ‘hurry it up’ as they struggled to take off their shoes and belt.”

Interior of commercial airplane with unrecognizable passengers on their seats during flight shot from the rear of airplane.Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

Being a chatterbox

In the Expedia study, 77 percent of Americans dread sitting next to a chatty Kathy. Traveling can be anxiety-inducing for some, and the last thing some passengers want to do is strike up and maintain a conversation. Instead, pass the time by reading a book or gazing out into the clouds.

Multiethnic group of business people standing in line while applying for registration: pensive black woman looking away and holding papersSeventyFour/Shutterstock

Queuing up in line

One of the most mocked behaviors on social media, according to Keyes, is when people line up well in advance to board a flight. Instead of blaming travelers, blame the airlines! This is simply the outcome of airlines charging for checked bags and allowing free carry-ons, he noted. There’s a reason why people line up early to ensure overhead space. “People respond to incentives; that’s nothing to blame them for,” Keyes said. Including queuing up in line, refrain from doing these 18 things in an airplane.

Female passenger stretching her legs on long commercial airplane flight. Exit seats with more leg space for more comfortable flight.Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

Going barefoot

There’s a time and place for airing out your feet, and the airplane is not one of them. The Expedia study showed that 78 percent of Americans disdain this rude habit—and for good reason. Your feet house over 100 different bacteria species. Plus, takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight and loose shoes would also pose a safety risk. Cultural context is important to consider, though. Travelers from cultures who go barefoot to show a sign of respect may just be doing what’s normal for them. Now that you know the rude habits you need to put a stop to on an airplane, extend that knowledge further with things you really shouldn’t do in the airport either.

Isabelle Tavares
Isabelle Tavares is a journalism graduate student at the Newhouse School of Syracuse University and former ASME intern for RD.com, where she wrote for the knowledge, travel, culture and health sections. Her work has been published in MSN, The Family Handyman, INSIDER, among others. Follow her on Twitter @isabelletava.