This blog post was updated on April 24, 2020.

After flying to countless destinations on cheap international flights and on various aircraft, it’s safe to say that we know what makes travelers happy on a flight…and we’re pretty sure about what absolutely irks them too. Yep, we know a thing or two about the proper etiquette for acceptable flight behavior. If you’re a frequent flyer who unconsciously does one of the following things, we’ve got to say that you’ll earn black stars in our book, not to mention some rotten stares from your fellow passengers. Here are a few things to remember that you should NOT do, so that you don’t become THAT passenger on a flight. You’re welcome!

Board like a raging bull

Airport crowd

Airlines have systematic boarding procedures to make sure that people get in the aircraft in a certain order of priority (families with kids first, etc.). However, there are some passengers who think they are beyond waiting for their row numbers to be called. Having a pushy eager beaver who can’t wait to jump into their seat just makes the boarding gate look like a Black Friday sale stampede — so just don’t do it!

Plant your flag (and your bag) in the overhead bin

Sure, you’re entitled to that carry-on piece and a personal item, but that doesn’t mean you hog all the luggage space. Be mindful that others will also need to use the bin overhead. If you’re carrying a laptop bag or other flexible pieces of luggage, just make sure to scrunch it under the seat in front of you.

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Recline recklessly

armrest on plane

So you’re up in the air, and all done with your meal, and so it’s time to kick your feet up, right? WRONG! there’s probably an unsuspecting traveler behind you that just got a faceful of seat while trying to chow down on their meal. If you want to go back significantly, just keep in mind what the person behind you is doing, and if they’re in the process of eating just show a bit of understanding because it’s just the nice thing to do…and ‘nice’ always turns into good travel karma.

Rub elbows…the wrong way

The armrest on some planes don’t have room for one elbow, let alone two. So on a crowded flight, the armrest becomes a (sometimes uncomfortable) battleground for some aerial arm-support superiority. But take a chill pill — you don’t want to be the aggressor and take up too much space. Be nice and go 50/50 on the armrest and you might make it a pleasant flight for everyone in your row.

Be a high-altitude loudmouth

women on plane shutting her ears to keep out loud noise

There’s nothing more irritating on a long flight than a passenger who doesn’t seem to have any volume control. Worse still — they’re trying to shout over other seated passengers and even talk to friends behind them. If you’re one of these kinds of culprits who seriously lacks volume control button and you draw some stares from your fellow passengers then don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Be the bearer of bad food odors

While snagging a cheap international flight these days would entail having to sort out your own meals, that’s no excuse for burning some pungent smelling nosh on board. We’re all for bringing on-board cold sandwiches or pasta that doesn’t upset the nostrils of other passengers. But if you think bringing on board slices of durian (go ahead, Google how bad it smells) is going to win you any friends, then think again.

Act as a germ dispenser

woman sneezing while flying by commercila airplane.

Traveling does take its toll on the body (trust us, we know!) and so being ill while flying is almost inevitable for the modern traveler. If you’re one of those that need to sneeze or cough, just be a bit mindful of others on the flight. Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm and make sure you carry some wipes and hand sanitizer as you don’t want to inadvertently spread your germs.

Expose your bohemian toe-jammery

Regardless of how liberating and au naturel you think the practice may make you feel, it’s important to keep your twinkle toes safely covered in your socks, and preferably your shoes. But what’s worse than a totally barefooted traveler? Probably a barefooted traveler who goes to the toilet barefooted too. We know how plane toilet floors can get on a long-haul flight. Take it from us — you don’t want to be that guy/gal.

Set up basecamp in the toilet

Occupied lavatory sign on the commercial airlines.

There’s already a line of sleep-deprived, bladder-heavy travelers lining up to use the puny bathrooms on planes, so someone taking their time reading an onboard magazine and playing a game on their phone in there while also checking themselves out in the mirror is just not acceptable. Please finish your business swiftly, and let others relieve themselves promptly.

As they say, what goes around comes around, so the next time you hop aboard very crowded, cheap international flights, make sure you remember the approved etiquette for proper flight behavior.


What behavior by fellow passengers pushes your buttons? Tell us in the comments!

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About The Author

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ... Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!