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9 Things You Should Absolutely Never Do on a Plane

Posted May 1st, 2012
by Staff Writer

Modern air travel is an amazing thing. Within hours, you can travel across continents, arriving at exotic destinations with different time zones. Most airplanes are now equipped with in-flight entertainment providing an endless array of options as to movies to watch, games to play, and music to listen to while aboard your flight. Sitting in coach may not be particularly glamorous, but flight attendants do everything they can to keep passengers safe and accommodated. As a passenger, you should also do your part to make the flying experience as pleasant as possible. If you’re trying to travel with ease, refrain from doing the following nine activities that irritate everyone else on board.

  1. Kick the chairs

    If you want to truly do your fellow passenger a disservice, you can accomplish it by kicking the back of the seat in front of you throughout the entire duration of the flight. Some bold passengers will point you out to the flight attendants, but most will opt to suffer in silence as they are uncomfortable with confrontation between two strangers. This endless kicking will ensure that they get zero rest on the flight, that they are completely distracted from any in-flight entertainment, and that they leave the plane making pointed glares in your general direction. If you’re going to put the seat in front of you through this unequivocal hell, you should quickly retrieve your bags and head on to your final destination before they get a chance to steal your luggage or key your car in revenge.

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  3. Hog the armrests

    Nobody likes sitting on the middle seat of a plane, so its only fair that the occupants in the aisle and window do their part to not completely monopolize the arm rests. A middle-seater should be allowed this one concession, since they are essentially sandwiched between two other passengers with hopes that said passengers are relatively normal-sized people and not overflowing into the space reserved for the middle man. Space is at a premium on an airplane. In fact, the people sitting in first class pay hundreds of dollars more for a bit more space and the appearance of luxury. In coach, everyone needs to do their part to take up minimal room so that everyone can sit comfortably. Take pity on the middle seat and fold your arms in your lap. They will thank you for it.

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  5. Drink too much

    The air pressure in the cabin makes you more susceptible to dehydration. For that reason, travelers need to limit how much alcohol they consume en route. Yet, there’s always that guy who drinks a bit too much before takeoff, much to the discomfort of all the other passengers aboard. Many people drink on flights to soothe their nerves if they’re afraid of flying, but the alcohol hits the drinker much more strongly in flight. The better option is to do some deep breathing exercises and, if absolutely necessary, take herbal or prescription drugs to calm down prior to flight. Save everyone else the show that often occurs when a passenger gets drunk and belligerent on an airplane.

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  7. Join the Mile High Club

    If you and your significant other can’t make it through a single flight without mating in the cramped airplane bathroom, you have some serious problems that need to be addressed other than your airplane etiquette. The Mile High Club is the term used to describe people who have participated in sexual activity aboard an airplane. Unless you’re the pilot and have access to the control area of the plane, the only available place to partake in this activity is the tiny airplane bathroom, which is hardly large enough for one body, let alone two. Take one awkward step back and you could wind up with a foot in the toilet, dark blue water covering your pant cuff. It’s not particularly sanitary and certainly not romantic. Plus, everyone on board will know exactly what you’re doing when two people shuffle into one bathroom and proceed to make lots of clumsy noises.

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  9. Use the wrong overhead bins

    For logistical reasons, most airplanes board from the back of the plane to the front. It makes sense to do it this way, so that boarding passengers won’t bang into your elbows when lumbering through with their carry-on items. But quite a few rear-boarding passengers use this as an opportunity to take up all of the overhead compartment space at the front of the cabin. Laziness is a factor here; they would like to seamlessly be able to get off the plane, snatching their carry-ons from the front at the last minute. However, for passengers that actually sit towards the front of the plane, this can be incredibly frustrating. They may board the plane to find that there is no space left for their things. Flight attendants do little to help the situation, offering to store their things at the back or gate check their items.

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  11. Make frightening jokes

    Many people have legitimate fears, thanks to 9/11, about the potential of flying aboard a highjacked plane. Making jokes about getting into a plane crash or hijacking scenario is not only inappropriate, but could inspire great fear in some of the other passengers. Refrain from making these tasteless jokes, which could actually get you thrown off the airplane if you’re not careful. Airlines often see these jokes as a threat and will alert security personnel upon landing, which could result in fines or even jail time.

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  13. Use electronics when landing or taking off

    There is a great deal of controversy as to whether or not the use of portable electronics during take-off and landing actually interferes with any part of the flying process. Many of us have tested keeping our iPhones on out of morbid curiosity, growing increasingly alarmed if there seems to be any turbulence resulting from the act. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website, it’s not entirely conclusive as to how important it is for your electronics to be shut down during take-off and landing, but it is a sensitive time during flight in which course correlations need to be exact, so it’s best to be on the safe side. Likewise, people need to be attentive to any safety instructions given by flight attendants during take-off.

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  15. Be too loud

    Whether you’re speaking with your “outside” voice or listening to music with the volume turned all the way up on your headphones, people will be equally irritated. Since an airplane is a shared space, it’s important to be respectful and quiet. Many people will be silently reading or sleeping, both of which will be completely interrupted by loud talking around them. Likewise, you may be a social butterfly, but don’t assume the stranger next to you wants to spend the entire flight in deep conversation with you. A few pleasantries are fine and courteous, but if the person next to you gets out a book or a pair of headphones, it’s time for silence. That’s their polite signal that they don’t want to be bothered any longer.

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  17. Be smelly

    Proper hygiene needs to be adhered while aboard an aircraft because it’s such a small, claustrophobic space to begin with, the last thing airsick people need is the overwhelming smell of your cologne wafting in their direction. People once dressed nicely on airplanes, treating it like a fancy excursion. Unfortunately, most people treat modern day airplanes like their own house. People wear sweats and walk around the cabin barefoot. If you’re prone to smelly feet, keep your shoes on. Always shower before heading to the airport for a long flight. If you’re traveling overnight, pack a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste for morning breath.

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