I KNOW, I KNOW. You think you’re the perfect rowmate on crowded plane rides. You keep to yourself, you don’t climb over your neighbor all the time to use the bathroom, you keep your hands and arms inside the bounds of your armrests. If you really are the mindful passenger you think you are, then I applaud you. But more than likely, you’re just as crappy as the rest of us on planes. We know the stress of being in-transit can really throw you off, so here’s a handy list of how not to be a total jerk on a plane.
1. Be mindful of your spawn.
Kudos to the family on my flight home from Dallas that thought in advance to bring free drink tickets for the person stuck sitting next to them and their noisy, crabby toddler. Anti-kudos to the families of the kid running through the aisle who tried to steal my husband’s cell phone on a flight to Amsterdam, and to the man sitting next to traveler Kimberley Gorelik Moran on the way to LA, who handed her his eight-month-old daughter and then left to go drink with a friend in another row.
2. Leave the tray table alone.
You may not be aware of this, but every time you put the tray table up or down, it shakes the seat in front of you. I know long flights can be boring, but amusing yourself by messing with the tray table is probably ruining someone else’s ride.
3. Keep your feet to yourself.
You’re most likely definitely aware of this, but kicking the back of the seat in front of you is just as bad, if not worse.
4. Don’t block the window with your entire giant head.
You know how you can get claustrophobic on planes and the only thing that helps is a quick glimpse out the window? Your flying friends in the middle and aisle don’t have the luxury of looking out like you do. So if you see them leaning forward for a peek, don’t be the person who blocks the whole window. I’ll let you in on a secret: If you lean back against the seat, you can still see outside! And a special shout-out to those who close the window shades in seats that aren’t theirs. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
5. Dial back the volume.
This one’s for all the teenagers on summer trips, drunk passengers, and people with no internal monologue. Keep quiet, please. We don’t all need to know the intimate details of your lives. And that’s exactly what I told the two women behind me loudly discussing bowel movements on a flight to Louisiana.
6. For the love of god, wear headphones.
I half expected it when the teenager in front of me pulled out his phone and played a first-person shooter game. On full volume. With no headphones. He’s just a kid; maybe he didn’t know better. But on the next flight, when a middle-aged mother put in a DVD on her mobile player, cranked up the sound, and settled back to watch it without headphones… that was not cool. Here’s a tip. If all the passengers are turning around to stare at you, you’re probably doing something wrong. Just sayin’.
7. Overall, just don’t touch the seat in front of you.
Similar to kicking the back of the seat and messing with the tray table, it’s fine to use the seat in front of you as leverage when you first sit down and occasionally need to get up—but if you’re doing it every ten minutes like the man behind traveler Kirstin Kelley, you’re pretty much causing a nightmare.
8. Smell-check your feet in the airport before kicking off your shoes on the plane.
This is especially important on overseas flights. No one wants to spend eight hours smelling your stanky feet. For everyone’s sake, do a quick smell test while you’re waiting for boarding to start, and buy a pair of socks if you need to.
9. No, it isn’t your overhead bin.
Hey, three or more people have to share that bin with you. It’s easy—carryon in, wheels out. NOT sideways. Jacket or coat on top of your bag. Anything else that needs to go up there can be held in your lap until everyone else has packed their stuff in.
10. Seriously, just don’t be a psychopath.
If this is you, please, seek help. On a recent overseas flight to Detroit, traveler Kyle Gray Young had to endure the insanity of a woman who wanted to sit as close to the bathroom as possible. The flight was full, but she yelled and threw a fit for about an hour until someone agreed to move. Several hours later, she started to freak out again and asked for a doctor. No doctor came, so she raised more hell. She wanted an oxygen mask to help her sleep. The flight attendants refused. While Young was waiting for the bathroom, the woman threw her pillows onto the floor by him, then pointed and stared at him as if he was supposed to get them back for her. Nope.
And here’s a bonus for those of us who just love to hear about other peoples’ discomfort.
11. Keep the porn at home.
Traveler Maggie Parker looked over to the next business class seat on a flight to Thailand—and found a man watching porn on his computer. Don’t be that guy.