The Most Annoying People On Your Flight

Nobody knows why airline travel brings out the worst of the worst.

23/09/2016 3:27 AM AEST | Updated 25/09/2016 7:49 PM AEST
Peter Cade
Just try to respect the person you're sitting next to and don't sleep on your neighbours' shoulder.

It doesn't matter if you're a frequent flyer or whether you travel once in a blue moon, you'd have to be a saint not to find at least one of your fellow passengers competely, utterly annoying.

In the interests of stress-free flying, The Huffington Post Australia has consulted frequent traveller, Lachlan Burnett, from Wendy Wu Tours, and etiquette expert Anna Musson for a checklist of the most annoying habits of airline travellers. What do these people do that throw you into a rage? Are there any simple rules we all should follow in regards to what NOT to do on a plane.

For starters, here are just some of the most annoying things your 'plane neighbours' will try to get away with:

  • Taking both arm rests;
  • Using a phone and being on a phone call;
  • Bodily noises like sniffing, snorting and throat clearing;
  • Not putting phone on silent so everyone can hear the tapping sounds;
  • Dressing for a camping trip, leggings, singlets, tracksuit pants, ugg boots;
  • Pushing forward to try to be first off the plane from row 23.

Getty Images/Vetta
Don't push up against the chair of the person in front of you. Even a patient person will get annoyed very quickly.

Boarding The Plane

"Don't rush to board the aircraft; nobody is going to take your allocated seat! On a long-haul flight you're going to be sitting there for hours anyway, so try and minimise the time you spend in your seat by a few minutes – it all helps!" Burnett said.

If your bag is on the large side, it's better to check it than try to squeeze it in or worse yet, put it above someone else's seat in business on your way through.

"It's always a nice gesture to offer to help others with their bag and this is particularly helpful during disembarking when time is of the essence. If you're feeling fragile or nursing an injury, a pleasant, 'Sorry to trouble you, would you mind helping with my bag please'?' is the best way to ask," said Musson.

"Say hello to those you are seated next to, it sets a pleasant tone for the trip, but leave it at that. Small talk is fine if they are looking bored, but if they are obviously reading or trying to work, leave them to it. Choose one arm rest. You can only have one."

"Place your bag at your feet and not at the person next to you's feet. This can be tricky if you have a chair leg in the middle of your footwell, but make it work. Keep your shoes on."

Love Thy Neighbour

Unless you're seated next to your favourite movie star or politician, having a seat-mate who wants to talk to you constantly can be annoying. Burnett told HuffPost Australia, as a constant traveller, he doesn't want to hear about his neighbour's adventures.

"I used to politely nod and pretend I was listening but now I'm not afraid to politely say, 'I hope you don't mind, but I'm travelling for work and I really need to get some work done or relax so I'd actually prefer not to chat.' It might sound harsh, but you can get away saying many things if you smile," Burnett said.

"I also don't think males should wear singlet-tops on aircraft – particularly when travelling from destinations with a hot climate, such as Asia. You mightn't be able to smell your own BO, but the rest of the aircraft certainly can!"

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Try not to spill your food across your neighbour's lap.

Food Glorious (?) Airline Food

Musson suggests travellers wipe down their food tray before using it or consider placing a napkin down to avoid contact with a food tray that has likely never been cleaned.

"When they come to clear the trays, it's perfectly acceptable to pass your neatly packed away remains but do not stack them up on another person's tray to clear your area for the TV screen. It may be a while to hold an empty drink bottle and food waste but it's your empty bottle and food waste," Musson said.

"Eat quietly and with minimal mess. It's not good form to leave a special project for the cleaners who are under pressure to turn the plane around quickly."

Burnett gets particularly annoyed when people leave their seat reclined when the meal service is on.

"I always make sure my seat is upright for meals, and then when the service is completed I turn around and ask the person behind me if they have finished their meal yet as I would like to recline my seat. Whatever you do, don't ask them if you can recline your seat – they may say no – and then you're in between a rock and a hard place," Burnett said.

Disembarking The Plane

Here's a tip: there's an art to disembarking and it's just like leaving the church after a wedding ceremony.

"Let the row in front of you disembark completely first. It is helpful to pass others the content of the overhead locker if you are seated in the aisle and closest to them. It is also helpful to pass a bag to a passenger who has been in another seat. A pleasant, 'Thank you' is all that's required as you pass the flight attendants on the way out. They deserve that, at least," Musson said.

Burnett's Favourite Passenger Horror Stories

I once saw someone finish their meal then (before the trays were taken away) take out nail clippers and proceed to cut their finger nails and then (if that wasn't bad enough) their toenails and put the clippings on to their meal tray.

One time I saw a lady change a baby's nappy on the spare seat behind her. It was a "number 2 job" as well. I can't begin to describe the aroma that permeated through the cabin. It's a wonder the oxygen masks didn't drop down.

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