16 Things one should never do on a plane

October 11, 2017
Katie Uniacke

Flight attendants tending to passengers are shown here

Plane travel can be a joy. Having a bit of time to yourself to catch up on reading or binge-watch podcasts or films without feeling guilty is never a bad thing, in my book.

However, there are certain things that can really ruin a plane journey, both for you and for your fellow passengers. Some of these are no-brainers, like watching something without headphones or eating a tuna sandwich.

However, there are certain unspoken, and slightly less obvious rules that everyone expects everyone else to follow so that you all get to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Not sure what makes a good traveler?

Never fear.

Think of this as a code of conduct for you to follow to make sure you have a smooth flight, for your own sake as well as everyone elses’.

Here are a few things you really shouldn’t be doing on a plane.Don’t be too free with your elbows


1. Don’t be too free with your elbows

No matter how small the space allotted to you may seem, it is, unfortunately, all you’ve paid for. It’s true, those seats are getting smaller and smaller, but the person next to you has paid for their space too.

There’s nothing worse than someone being all elbows and invading your own bit of personal space, so try and stay within that imaginary box.

The armrests are usually the preserve of the person in the middle seat, and those in the aisle and window seats shouldn’t fight them for them.


2. Don’t try a new drug for the first time.

You may have been recommended an amazing sleeping pill by a friend, but whatever you do don’t try it for the very first time onboard a plane.

If it turns out you’ve had a bad reaction to any medication you take, a plane is probably one of the worst places you could be. You really don’t want to be the person that causes the flight attendants to ask if there’s a doctor onboard.

Only take things you know you react well to.


3. Don’t be a rude recliner

Some people object to any reclining whatsoever, but let’s face it, it does make those chairs slightly more bearable.

Stick to reclining your chair when no food is being served, as it can play havoc with the tray table of the person behind you.


4. Don’t ignore the safety briefing

You’ve been lucky up till now, but that safety briefing could save your life.

Even if you don’t need to watch the steward put on a lifejacket, make sure you know where the emergency exit is and, if you’re seated in an emergency exit row, that you know how to open it. Delaying dozing off under your eye mask to keep you safe is a good trade!


5. Don’t overdo the alcohol

You might be nervous, or you might be in the mood to party, but either way, alcohol isn’t the answer.

A glass of wine with your meal is fine, but any more and you’ll sleep poorly and get dehydrated. If you go overboard then rowdy behavior won’t be tolerated.


6. Don’t sleep while resting on the window

If you happen to sleep with your head on the window you might not need turbulence to come and give you a bad neck ache. Prolonged sleep in a particular position can cause a bad neck ache or even spinal discomfort.

Try to travel with a pillow or if you really need to change your position frequently just fold up your blanket and rest against that so that you mitigate stress on your neck or back.


7. Don’t skimp on the water

A plane cabin is an incredibly dehydrating environment, so say yes to every (non-alcoholic) drink that you’re offered.

Try and bring a water bottle on board with you. You could even ask the crew to refill it for you (from a larger bottle, as tap water on board is questionable), to save all of those plastic cups.


8. Don’t be thoughtless with your carry-on

If your bag will fit under the seat in front of you, please put it there. Overhead locker space is often at a premium, so don’t take it up unnecessarily.

Do your level best to put your carry on bags in the overhead locker that’s actually above your head rather than halfway down the plane, so that it’s much easier when everyone gets off.

Your jacket can be the last thing to go into a locker, once everyone’s got their main carry-on in.


9. Don’t be inconsiderate with your feet

I’m the first person to take my shoes off on a long flight, but if you have smelly feet, try and leave them on.

Don’t stick them out into the aisle, as you’ll trip people up and get bashed by the trolley, and put them back on when you go to the loo, for your own sake.


10. Don’t sit down the whole time

The low pressure in the cabin can wreak havoc with your circulation, and that, paired with sitting for long periods increases your risk of developing blood clots.

Choose an aisle seat when possible, and get up and move around as much as you can.

If you’re trapped in a window seat, be sure to make circles with your ankles and tense and relax your leg muscles every so often. When sleeping, move your legs every time you surface.


11. Don’t sleep during the day

No matter what time it was when you left, once you’re on a plane you need to start adapting to your new time zone, to help fight the jet lag.

Change your clock and only let yourself doze off if it’s the right time wherever you’re going.


12. Don’t join the Mile-High Club

Appealing as the idea may seem in the movies, if you and your partner actually tried to get intimate in the bathroom on a plane, I wouldn’t mind guessing it wouldn’t be quite as romantic as it’s made out to be.

There’s no subtle way of two people going into one bathroom, so the whole plane would know exactly what you’re doing. Save it for the hotel!


13. Don’t be too loud

Talk quietly, especially when the cabin lights have been dimmed, and keep the music down.

By all means, say hello to and have a quick chat with the person next to you, but don’t make them speak to you for the whole flight, especially if they get out a book or headphones.


14. Don’t eat the food that makes contact with the tray table

Hygiene is important. Remember most airlines turn their planes around within minutes of landing so that they can depart towards their next destination which means there is little to no time to sterilize a tray table. Other passengers place all sorts of items from cash or different items that have the potential to carry bacteria hence it’s better to be safe!

Other passengers place all sorts of items from cash or different items that have the potential to carry bacteria hence it’s better to be safe!

While you are at it avoid putting your contact lens on the table too if you like to remove or clean them during flights.


15. Don’t delay turning off your electronic devices

Managing a flight isn’t easy so it’s important that you turn off your electronic devices when the flight attendants come round so that you avoid an unpleasant interaction with the crew. After all its for safety reasons.


16. Don’t try to rush out after landing

You might be all too familiar with people bumping you on the head or squeezing past you to reach the overhead bins after landing. This can be quite an inconvenience.

Most of the time people leave linearly and no amount of haste after landing can help you save a few seconds. So try your best not to inconvenience others.



Smartertravel, The Airplane Seat: Narrow, Cramped — and About to Get Worse
NBC5, EPA tests show high percentage of airplanes having bacteria

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