As a travel writer, I spend a great deal of time on planes. Now, I know that my career grays the lines between work and play and while I love what I do, I’m not always as enthusiastic about airplanes and pending trips as everyone else on board – totally fine. But there are some common airplane courtesies which I feel should be respected and upheld by all…and yet….they just aren’t.
I’m not writing any of this to be a dick. I just want you to know the things you might do on an airplane that make other people think you’re a dick. You know…so you can stop doing them. No one likes a dick. Or, um… You know what I mean…
What not to do on an airplane:
1. Disrespectfully recline your seat:
I’m not a big fan of reclining chairs on planes as it is. Mostly because I don’t want to cramp up the person behind me. I think it’s inconsiderate. If, for some reason (like on a red eye flight) I really need to kick back, I prefer to ask the person behind me if they mind my reclining. I believe the person behind you should have a say in whether or not you recline. (Please take note, douchebag from Texas, who reclined his seat into mine without asking on the way to Frankfurt, and spilled my wine all over my lap).
2. Talk to your screaming child in a volume louder than their scream:
I’m no parent, but even I know that screaming at a kid doesn’t make them shut up. The only thing worse than a screaming kid on a plane is a parent screaming at a screaming kid.
3. Go to the bathroom when the flight attendants are serving:
You know, this is only going to lead to you waiting impatiently in the narrow corridor and them being even more frustrated because they don’t want to move their entire cart to one side of the plane just to let you through. I’m not saying to hold it if you’re in a desperate state during this time, but if you can hold it…well then…yeah. I think you should. Nothing other than urgency should come in between me and my mini bottle of Cabernet.
4. Make everyone wait for you to get your carry-on luggage:
Sure, some people get annoyed with those who are over-eager to get off the plane, who stand for minutes on end when the plane lands. And then there are those who wait, unwilling to get up before the aisle is clear for them to exit the plane.
Try to be in between these two kinds of people. There’s no reason to grab your overhead stuff 15 minutes early; but as a courtesy to others, make sure it’s in your hands before the aisle is clear for you to exit the plane. And with that said, don’t bring carry-on luggage that is too heavy for you to carry. It’s not anyone else’s job to assist you with the lifting of your luggage.
5. Pray out loud:
I’ve witnessed this one more times than you can imagine. Praying is fine by me. Go ahead. Pray when the plane takes off and pray when it lands. I hope your prayers work and we don’t crash. But please don’t pray out loud. From a Hasidic Jew singing chants next to me from Los Angeles to New York to a family of four holding hands and praying in tongues in front of me from Puerto Jimenez to San Jose, I’ve seen it all on the praying-on-planes front. Personally, your praying out loud makes me nervous. And take off and landing are the only times during a flight when I don’t have the ability to listen to my iPod. Please, respect the other people on the plane and pray inside of your head. I bet God hears it that way, too.
6. Talk to the person next to you if they are asleep, have headphones on, or seem disinterested in you:
Airplanes are not dating sites. We’re not fated to be in each other’s lives just because we were assigned seats next to each other. Period. If we’re both feeling chatty, then fine. There are no rules m (yet) saying we’re not allowed to have a conversation. But there are rules of courtesy saying that if I’m obviously not paying attention to you, then you leave me the hell alone.
Avoiding these six annoying airplane habits will make the world a better place. I’m sure of it.