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10 Things You Should Never Do While Flying

by Toby Oliva
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Flying is a magical experience that allows us to defy gravity, explore new horizons, and, if lucky, catch a glimpse of the world from above. But just like any other grand adventure, it comes with unwritten rules. In this high-flying exposé, we unveil the not-so-secret list of ten things you should never do while flying.

Related: 10 Mesmerizing Deserted Places

10 Ignoring Safety Instructions: A Risky Game

British Airways | Safety Video | The Original Safety Briefing​

Ignoring safety instructions while flying is like trying to ride a unicycle on a tightrope over a pit of hungry crocodiles. It’s a daring act of stupidity that defies logic and common sense. As the saying goes, “You can’t fix stupid.” In air travel, that couldn’t be more accurate. So unless you want to earn your stripes as an honorary member of the “Ignorance is Bliss” club, here are a few terrible ideas to avoid while soaring through the skies.

  • Unbuckle your seatbelt when the “fasten seatbelt” sign turns off. Who needs that pesky restraint when you can be a human projectile?
  • Stand up before the plane has reached the gate. Who cares if the cabin crew hasn’t given the green light? Your need to rush to the bathroom is more important.
  • Open the emergency exit door to get fresh air. After all, it’s just a tiny door. What could go wrong?
  • Start an impromptu yoga class in the aisle. The pilot’s skills will surely be bolstered by your warrior pose.
  • Engage in a heated debate about conspiracy theories with your seatmate. It’s always a good time for a passionate discussion about lizard people.
  • Tug on the oxygen mask cords to test their elasticity. They’re practically begging for a game of airplane bungee.
  • Ignore the safety demonstration and try to teach the flight attendants some new dance moves. Safety schmafety, right?
  • Attempt to open the cockpit door with a knock-knock joke. Who can resist a good punchline?
  • Use your phone during takeoff and landing because rules are meant to be broken, and you’re the renegade of row 23.
  • Announce your need for an immediate exit via the plane’s inflatable slide for “dramatic effect.” Who cares about the bewildered looks of your fellow passengers? It’s your time to shine, action hero!

9 Getting Tipsy Before Takeoff: Alcohol and Altitude Don’t Mix

Getting tipsy before takeoffs might seem like a fun way to start your aerial adventure. But it’s like strapping yourself into a topsy-turvy roller coaster—a recipe for regret. While liquid courage can soothe pre-flight jitters, turning your airplane seat into a personal pub isn’t first-class behavior.

Besides being a potential annoyance to fellow passengers, alcohol dehydrates your body at high altitudes, which can make you feel even more lethargic during the flight. Not to mention the inevitable parade to the cramped airplane lavatory, a sobering reminder that booze and bladder capacity don’t mix well.

Instead of starting your journey on the wrong foot (or should I say “wing”?), save the drinking for your destination, where you can fully enjoy the local libations without the watchful eyes of flight attendants. After all, you don’t want to be the traveler who becomes the cautionary tale in the airline’s next staff meeting.

8 Overloading the Overhead Bins: Space Is Limited

The Right Way to Put Your Luggage in the Overhead Bin | Travel + Leisure

In the great game of “Tetris: Air Travel Edition,” some passengers treat overhead bins like their personal Rubik’s cubes. You’ll spot them at the gate, expertly maneuvering their roller bags and backpacks, channeling their inner packing gurus as if they’re auditioning for the airline version of America’s Got Talent.

But here’s the plot twist: Overloading the overhead bins is one of the top ten things you should never do while flying. Why? Well, it’s not because we want to deny you the thrill of a high-stakes game of Jenga with your carry-on luggage. No, it’s because an overstuffed overhead bin can turn into a mess faster than you can say “turbulence.”

The result? Frustration, chaos, and maybe even some lost patience points from your fellow passengers. It’s like bringing a watermelon to a juggling contest—impressive until it all comes crashing down. Let’s all agree to spare ourselves the airborne drama. After all, it’s about getting to your destination with your sanity and good karma intact.

7 Playing Loud Music or Movies Without Headphones: No One Wants to Hear Your Jam

Aircraft/Airplane Headphone Adaptors

Ah, the glorious symphony of playing loud music or movies without headphones during a flight. It’s an experience that can transform a tranquil cabin into a chaotic concert hall. As much as we cherish your impeccable taste in cinema or music, subjecting your fellow passengers to your audio preferences without the courtesy of headphones is a surefire way to earn disapproving glares.

In the grand opera of in-flight etiquette, this act is the villain’s aria. Passengers yearn for serenity amid the clouds, not a surround sound extravaganza of your favorite blockbuster. As the volume rises, so does the collective eye roll.

So, dear travelers, if you must indulge in cinematic or musical delights, invest in some quality headphones. It’s not only an act of auditory kindness but also a testament to your sophistication. Save the in-flight symphonies for your ears, and let others enjoy their peace.

6 Reclining Your Seat Without Consideration: Space Is Precious

Should you recline your airplane seat?

The classic problem of reclining your seat on a flight! It’s a tale as old as time, a drama played out in the cramped quarters of economy class. We’ve all been there—the siren call of that recline button is just too tempting to resist. But should you give in to its allure without a second thought? Absolutely not!

Reclining your seat without consideration for your fellow passengers is like declaring yourself the Emperor of the Skies. Sure, it’s your seat. But remember, you’re not alone in this metal tube. There’s a human being with knees behind you, probably crammed in like a pretzel, desperately trying to enjoy their mini bag of peanuts.

Before you go full La-Z-Boy on your seat, take a moment to look back and consider the consequences. Your decision to recline impacts the space, comfort, and sanity of the person behind you. Instead, why not strike up a conversation, share a smile, or engage in some friendly in-flight bonding? You’ll be the benevolent monarch of seat etiquette, and you might even make a new friend.

5 Taking Up Extra Space: Share the Armrests

Reclaiming the Armrest || ViralHog

When flying, we’re all on the same plane (pun intended). Still, not everyone seems to have received the memo about respecting personal space. So let’s talk about taking up extra space while soaring through the skies. It’s like an unwritten rule of the friendly skies that somehow got lost in translation.

You see, there are countless things you should never do while flying, and hogging your neighbor’s legroom or elbowing them into submission is one of them. We’ve all experienced the elbow battle royale with a fellow passenger who thinks their armrest is the border to a newly discovered country. And who can forget the awkward dance of the knees with that person reclining their seat like they’re auditioning for Cirque du Soleil?

In an era where legroom is the new currency, we implore you: don’t be that person. Airlines have enough problems these days without us adding to the turbulence. So let’s make flying friendly again by respecting the sacred boundaries of armrests, foot space, and personal bubbles. After all, it’s called “economy class,” not “economy of personal space.” It’s time to rise above, quite literally, and give your fellow passengers a breather. Remember, taking up extra space is only cool if you’re a celestial body, not a seatmate.

4 Excessive Time in the Lavatory: Be Quick and Efficient

How To Use A Bathroom In An Airplane

Excessive time in the lavatory on a flight is like trying to set up a campfire in a rainstorm—it’s bound to leave you and everyone else feeling a little soggy. While nature’s call is a force that cannot be denied, there are limits, even at 30,000 feet. So, let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the airplane cabin: spending an eternity in the lavatory.

First and foremost, consider the line forming outside while you’re in there plotting your escape from in-flight boredom. It’s like a scene from a blockbuster thriller: a queue of passengers, each with a growing sense of urgency, all wondering if they’ll ever return to their seats in time to catch that riveting in-flight movie.

Moreover, airplane bathrooms are compact spaces—they’re not meant for yoga or elaborate grooming sessions. When it comes to lavatory lingerers, the sky is not the limit. Be considerate, do your business, and return to your seat. The airplane is not a spa, and there are no awards for the most time spent in the bathroom at 30,000 feet.

3 Trashy Travelers: Clean Up after Yourself

How to Properly Throw Away Trash on an Airplane (3 of 4)

Trashy travelers, those wandering wonders of the world who couldn’t care less about the planet or their fellow passengers. When it comes to jet-setting etiquette, they’ve mastered the art of leaving a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons. Picture an airplane cabin littered with discarded snack wrappers, a minefield of spilled soda, and a lingering odor that could challenge even the bravest of noses. These are the telltale signs of trashy travelers in action.

But what drives these airborne litterbugs to forsake decency and common courtesy? Perhaps they believe the flight attendants moonlight as janitors, ready to swoop in and clean up their mess with a smile. Or maybe they’ve just watched one too many Fast and Furious movies, mistakenly thinking that creating turbulence in the cabin is all the rage.

Alas, flying isn’t a trashy free-for-all. It’s a shared experience, and the golden rule of the skies should be: “If you brought it on board, take it off with you.” The next time you spot one of these airborne scofflaws in action, remember that trashy travelers are just like shooting stars. They may be brief, but their impact is nothing short of unforgettable. So do your part to make air travel a cleaner and more pleasant experience by always disposing of your trash responsibly.

2 Complaining Excessively: Stay Positive

Airline: TOP 6 WORST Entitled Passengers | A&E

Complaining while flying is like trying to empty the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon—it’s futile, exhausting, and guaranteed to annoy everyone around you. We get it. Flying can be a stressful experience with its share of inconveniences. Still, there’s no need to transform into a human foghorn.

First, remember that airline personnel are not your therapists. Complaining incessantly about the in-flight meal or the lack of legroom won’t magically conjure up a gourmet chef or stretch out the aircraft. Besides, the flight attendants are there to ensure your safety and comfort, not to listen to your grievances.

The next time you feel the urge to turn your seat into a confessional booth, take a deep breath and remember: You’re on an adventure, hurtling through the sky. Embrace the marvel of modern aviation, smile, and save the venting for your travel blog—not the whole cabin.

1 Being Rude to the Crew: They’re Here to Help

What Airline Attendants Are Trained To Do When Passengers Become Unruly

When it comes to in-flight etiquette, being rude to the crew is like using a jet engine as a hairdryer—it’s noisy, unnecessary, and bound to make you look ridiculous. Flight attendants are not your butlers, and they certainly aren’t responsible for your in-flight tantrums. Treating them like your punching bags won’t get you anywhere except perhaps on the no-fly list.

When you summon a flight attendant with a button, consider what you’re about to say. Yelling, demanding, or acting entitled won’t get extra peanuts. Politeness can go a long way—a simple “please” and “thank you” can make a difference.

When you’re soaring through the heavens, it’s best to leave your rudeness on the tarmac. Be a gracious passenger, and you might just land with your dignity intact. After all, being rude to the crew is about as charming as turbulence during a meal service.

fact checked by Rachel Jones