Annoying Things People Do On An Airplane – Passenger Habits That Drive Me Crazy

When you travel on your own as often as I do you have a lot of time to observe the often bizarre behaviour of your fellow passengers and get really, really irritated by it. Little annoying habits that wouldn’t garner a second thought on land suddenly become 10 times more frustrating when taking place in a tin can in the sky over several hours. Am I just an incredibly intolerant person or do these things I’ve seen people do on a plane also rub you up the wrong way?

Ignore the boarding sequence

I often spot bad passenger behaviour before the plane has even boarded. Most long-haul flights have a boarding sequence so that those sitting towards the back of the plane board first. (It’s common sense really.) There is no need therefore for the man in row 19 to be hovering at the front of the gate or a family of 15 to be blocking all lanes, including those for priority passengers.

Sort out their sh*t in the aisle

Oh how I wish passengers would extract their reading material/slipper socks/reading glasses/cuddly toy from their cabin baggage in the lounge before boarding so that they don’t have to not unpack their life in the aisle when the rest of the plane is trying to reach their seats.

Misunderstand the purpose of 4 wheel luggage

Totally none of my business really but why do people with luggage on 4 wheels still drag their cases down the aisle on just 2? I hate to see smart technology mistreated!

Put their sh*t in your foot well

As I mostly travel alone, every time I board a flight it’s like playing a round of Russian roulette. Who will be seated next to me? Will they be smelly, too chatty or (the worst) have belongings/body parts that spill onto me? The space invader is not necessarily a passenger who steals your armrest – a sharp nudge tends to deal with them – it’s the foot well I’ve often found myself fighting over. Too many times I’ve had long-legged gentlemen or overly-loaded ladies use my foot well to place their body and belongings in. This makes me VERY ANGRY.

Put their bare feet where they don’t belong

Shouldn’t there be a rule against bare feet on a plane? Especially if said bare feet are placed on your armrest or (true story) rested against your thigh by the passenger in the next seat who has crossed their legs underneath them.

Let their sh*t spill everywhere

You know the ones who sit in front of you and can’t keep a hold of their own pillow so you have to poke it back through the gap 10 times over? I HATE that!

Don’t get up when you need to use the loo

How is moving your legs 3 inches to the left going to make a viable escape route?  I do not want to squeeze out of my row by standing on armrests or putting my intimate parts in people’s faces. Please get up and stop making this so awkward.

Can’t get up without yanking your headrest

Be gentle please people, if the chair moves we go with it.

Let their hair spill over your TV screen

Or play with their dreads, which constantly flick you, for 7 whole hours. (Another gross true story.)

Recline their seat before the meal service

You’re just gonna have to put it back up again coz I can’t eat with my dinner resting on my tits. (For some reason it’s always the passengers in the exit row who seem to recline first and set off a domino effect of unnecessary reclining.)

Hoick phlegm and spit into napkins

Nowhere is this acceptable but especially not in this confined atmosphere. That goes for picking you nose/toenails/genitals also. Especially all 3 together.

Have a domestic

We can hear you arguing over the customs form. It’s awkward.

Fall asleep without turning off their reading light or TV screen

The glare kills me.

Unbuckle their seat as soon as we touchdown

I’m a stickler for rules and secretly wish the plane would jerk suddenly and teach these naughty people a lesson.

Crowd the aisle when the seatbelt sign goes off

What is it with the rush to get to the plane door? Do you realise we’re all going to waiting together at baggage? I like the very British custom of letting each row file out one at a time with a polite ‘after you’ as opposed to some flights I’ve been on when people literally try to walk through you.

Which passenger habits really annoy you?

Photo:  RyanMcGuire/Pixabay/CC0 1.0 

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About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

15 thoughts on “Annoying Things People Do On An Airplane – Passenger Habits That Drive Me Crazy”

  1. Oh my gosh – yes, the people who won’t get up for you!! Argh – seriously dude, are you getting a kick out of having my arse in your face?!

    • I’m astounded people would even contemplate making others squeeze out of what is clearly not a human shaped space!

  2. All of these things are so frustrating! One thing I find particularly irritating is people being unable to queue at the boarding gate. It’s really not that difficult! ALSO, people who recline their seats are the worst! One man literally did it as soon as we took off, and was so far back he was basically lying on my lap, if you want that much space you can pay for upper class! It was so rude. SEVEN HOURS I SAT LIKE THAT! This is a great post xx

    • Oh that is not fun! On my latest flight the seat in front of me was broken so it was fully reclined all the way. I couldn’t read, work or eat and in the end was moved to the crew seat just to have some breathing room! 7 hours like that would be a killer!

  3. The people who don’t get up astound me. I am aisle person so I usually avoid it. However, when this has happened to me, I have insisted on them getting up. I refuse to put my behind in your face. The unbuckling and sometimes standing up before the seat belt sign goes off also annoys me! And keep your shoes on. Planes are not clean at all! It’s always nice to know others feel the same as sometimes I feel I am the only one.

  4. Uhm, ALL of these kill me every time! Especially those who fall asleep without turning off their screen and those that yank your seat as they get up!

    I recently added a new annoying passenger on my list; the nosy bastards! During a medical emergency on a flight earlier this year someone had to be given space to lie down in front of the front row, and had doctors and stewards helping him – and then this BASTARD of a man spent the entire flight standing in the aisle to watch! So rude, and so disrespectful to the patient’s family who were so worried! Gaaah 😛

    LOVED this post, Jayne!

    • Whaaaat that’s not just rude but super weird. Why didn’t the staff move him on? I tell you people do the strangest things on airplanes!

  5. Such a good post, Jayne! I’m lucky I haven’t had too many nasty experiences, mostly with people not following rules, talking loudly or taking up too much space. I don’t even know what I would have done if someone were clipping their nails! I had once a case on a train, when a girl in front of me was painting her nails. It took me a while to figure out where did the sharp strange smell came from and why I had a headache.
    I generally hate when people don’t follow rules or are inconsiderate. It is so much worse when you are stuck with someone for x hours!

    Happy travels! (No matter the annoying passengers’ habits!)
    Ioanna (A Woman Afoot)

  6. The only issue I can see with separating their cabin baggage before boarding is that with some airlines, you’re only allowed one bag so if you take out stuff before boarding, you now have two bags. I usually head that off at the pass by putting my seat essentials together in a folding bag and then stuffing that into the top of my carryon bag. Then hopefully all I have to do at my seat is unzip, yank it out and toss it on my seat before stowing my larger bag. If someone can’t abide the 3 seconds it takes to do that…well… they have larger problems. But I agree on the people who take minutes to pull out each individual item only after arriving at their seat.

    I always figure the people in aisle seats stand up as soon as they can because they’re uncomfortable after sitting for so long and want to stretch their legs.

    • The idea of a fold out bag is really smart. I also like to pop the bits I need at the top of the bag and whip them out just before I sit down – I always feel bad if I block the aisle for a long time during boarding!

      Also totally understand people stretching their legs after a long flight, it’s the ones who race to the front of the place before the doors open that drive me crazy, especially if they push me out the way to do so. (A common occurrence for some reason!!)

  7. Oh weird. Maybe that’s an American flight thing? Most flights I’ve been on people immediately stand up and soon as we reach the gate but everyone pretty much ends up just standing next to the row they were seated in. Not sure I’ve seen people jostle to get to the front after that.

    I was once on a flight where the flight attendants instructed everyone to stay seated and allow a few people who had tight connections (including me!) to disembark first. That was different…but I made my flight.

  8. I found it really weird that the Emirates crew let people get up, use the lockers and even go to the loo on the A380 while the plane was taxiing to the gate; flew Qantas to Dubai the week previously and the crew on the upper deck economy section actually enforced the seatbelt rule….cray with the contrast!

  9. Fed up with people reclining seats? Be smart, check in early and select the bulkhead row.
    Fed up with having to give someone a lap dance to get to the loo? Pick an aisle seat.

    Oh and the reason people jump up as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, and rush to get off the plane, is that (especially if you only have hand luggage) it can make the difference between flying through passport control with nary a pause, and standing in a 20 minute queue of ditherers.

    Space invaders and headrest-grabbers can F off though, I’m with you on those.

  10. Trying to jump the seating queue is a travel pet peeve of mine too. I don’t get it especially for a long haul flight. I always want to be almost last on the plane. But I’m a very light traveller and only have one small carry-on the I store in the footwell. One annoying thing that I would add is getting drunk on a flight.


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