From February of 2013 until August of 2023, I didn’t set foot in a plane. Flying is the worst. For me, it’s the worst because I’m a big guy. Like most people who are overweight, I don’t care as much about my comfort as I do the comfort of the people around me, and on a plane, there’s just no avoiding the problems I create for other people.
Since August, I have flown to the Dominican Republic and New York City for vacations. I flew last week to Florida with UCO basketball. We’re flying to Vegas in December for a tournament as well. I’ve lost a lot of weight in the last few years, and while I still have a long way to go, it’s made flying at least manageable. It’s still miserable, but it’s at least manageable.
In my recent travels, I’ve been much better about not letting things I can’t immediately control negatively impact my experience. As my eyes have been opened to this new way of thinking, so too have they been opened to the fact that my obesity is the least of the problems with people at the airport or in an airplane. I took note of some of the worst of humanity to bring you this list — the worst airplane behaviors.
10. Light abuse
Flying at night is a different experience that I quite enjoy. The darkness can almost make me forget that I’m on an airplane. I don’t have the easiest time going to sleep on a plane, and for those like me, I can totally understand how reading a book passes the time. This, of course, requires a light. So the airlines have put in a light above your head to help you out. If you’re reading, turn on the light. If you need to find something, turn on the light. But don’t be like the person on a recent flight that kept their light the entire flight just to sit in silence. The worst.
9. Sneaky vaping
This has replaced the sneaky smoker, and frankly, it’s easier than ever to do. I’ll go on record to say that vaping, even in public, doesn’t really bother me. Hell, vaping in a plane doesn’t really bother me. But it’s against the rules. The last thing I need is some sort of hassle because some 20-something couldn’t wait a few hours to take a rip from their Elf Bar. Don’t do this, or any of the other stuff Lauren Boebert did in that theater.
8. Getting up to pee five minutes into the flight
I’m not going to preach to you about how great airport bathrooms are. When push comes to shove, they’re still airport bathrooms. But you know what’s worse than an airport bathroom? The airplane bathroom. Armed with this knowledge, it’s always amazing and annoying to me that on nearly every flight, as soon as the seat belt sign goes off, someone gets up to use the lavatory. When that person is sitting in an aisle seat, it’s a little less frustrating, but when they are in a window seat, it’s truly puzzling.
7. Being rude to airport workers
It always amazes me that people will berate the gate agents or the flight attendants for problems that they didn’t cause. It’s not the gate agent’s fault that your bag was lost, or that info is wrong in the system, yet every day at an airport you’ll see some miserable pillock tearing into an employee that didn’t cause the problem, but may be the only chance of actually fixing the problem. Same with on the plane. When the flight attendant tells you that you have to be seated with your seatbelt on, do you think they are doing that because they are singing you out? Of course not. Use your brain. Don’t be that person.
6. Clapping when the plane lands
Did you know that your chances of dying in a plane accident are one in 7,000,000? To put that in simpler terms, if you flew on a commercial plane every single day, on average, it would take you 19,000 years to die in a plane crash. So why do people act as if some big feat was just achieved when the plane is wheels down? If you are happy that you are there, keep that to yourself. Most people don’t want to be on a flight. They are flying for work, or sometimes even worse, to visit family. Hold the applause.
5. Chatty Cathy
I like striking up a conversation just as much as the next guy, but there’s a time and a place and the airplane ain’t it. Even worse is the across the aisle talker. If you want to chat with someone, do it quietly. We’re in close quarters and the world doesn’t need to hear your whole conversation. The best way to enjoy any flight is to mentally check out. That means I don’t need to hear your life story and you don’t need to know mine.
4. Joking about crashing
As mentioned earlier, your chances of being in a plane crash are astronomically low, but the anxiety is real for many air travelers, especially inexperienced air travelers, so do everyone a favor and hold your jokes in at the first sign of slight turbulence. There’s a time and place for your comedy act, but a packed airplane isn’t that place, Shecky Greene.
3. Bringing smelly food
I know that the in-flight food options are limited, and I also am very aware that it’s nice to have a snack to break up the monotony of a flight, but again, a little respect for the people around you goes a long way. The food you bring on the plane should be neutral smelling. Whether it’s a hamburger or pizza or cabbage or Funyuns, the entire plane doesn’t need to smell what you’re tossing down your gullet.
2. Shoeless Joe
You should know by now that you have to take your shoes off to get through security, so please wear socks to the airport. No one wants to see your clammy feet sticking to the floor in the TSA line. Once you clear security, please, for the love of Pete, leave your shoes on. There is no place in an airport or in an airplane that you should take your shoes off other than security, and there’s a special place in a really hot location for people who take them off on the actual plane.
I don’t know when this became normal behavior, but we need to publicly shame anyone that is either talking on their speakerphone or watching a video on their phone without headphones on. It is staggering how many people have very private conversations in the midst of crowds on their speakerphones. In New York, I heard a woman discussing with her friend about her friend’s unfaithful husband. It was graphic. It was full of expletives. It was not rated PG. I won’t lie, I was interested, but it was totally uncalled for. This was on the Staten Island Ferry, which is bad, but not near as bad as the lady FaceTiming her husband in the airplane last week. It’s not near as bad as the person listening to a book on tape, for crying out loud, at the gate on speakerphone. Get some headphones or put the phone to your ear. Period.