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7 ways not to irritate your fellow passengers when flying

We spoke to the people at Fly.co.uk about what really irritates passengers when they travel by air. A little thought for your fellow travellers can go a long way so here are 7 top tips on how not to irritate them when flying. Of course, there are lots more – feel free to post a comment at the end if you’d like to add your own. 1. Rules are rules Watch and listen to the safety announcements, regardless of whether you’re a frequent flyer. Take note of any instructions and don’t think that rules apply to everyone except you. Switch off your phone if you’re supposed to, don’t get up if the seat belt light is still lit… and so on and so forth. The rules exist for your own safety as well as the safety of others. 2. Your seat If there’s one thing that’s sure to annoy your fellow passengers, it’s got to be suddenly reclining your seat into the face of the person behind you, no doubt spilling the said person’s drink that was delicately balanced on the seat’s precarious make-shift table. If you feel the urge to recline it a little, do so slowly and be sympathetic to whoever is sitting behind you. 3. Their seat Don’t pull on the seat of the person in front of you when get up – push off from your own seat. 4. Your / their arm-rest Nobody wants to feel cramped by whoever they’re sitting next to. If you’re wider than you are tall, book two seats. Better still, do some exercise and go on a diet. But if you’re of normal build, remember not to hog the arm-rests. Those occupying middle seats ought really to get use of at least one. 5. Incessant talking It might just be that your neighbour was looking forward to reading a book or maybe a rest on his/her flight. Don’t talk incessantly and bear in mind that if they’re engaging in conversation, it might just be that they’re being polite. 6. Babies and children If you have them, try to keep them under control. Don’t let them incessantly kick the seat in front of them. Come prepared with things that will entertain them for the duration. If your child ‘kicks off’, at least make an effort to calm the disturbance – there’s nothing more annoying than an unruly child and parents who seemingly don’t care. If you don’t have them, understand that sometimes babies (in particular) and children have their moments. They could be suffering from a change in air pressure or just having a bad day. Remember, you were their age once. 7. Don’t get drunk For your own personal health and comfort, you should be looking to keep well hydrated during a flight. Alcohol is dehydrating and its effects are magnified at high altitude. If you’re going to have alcohol, then do so in moderation.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. I don’t know about other big people, but as a big person myself, I purposefully make sure I don’t take more than my fair share of armrest. So don’t blame it all on us. You know who’s bad? Skinny people that sit next to big folks and inflate themselves to get as much as possible, including middle seat folks that try to take both arm rests. Perhaps I’m in the minority. Just saying it’s a two way street.

  2. I was recently on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town and witnessed the cabin attendant assisting 2 foreign travellers cram their huge heavy hand luggage into the overhead stowage. As soon as the safety announcements were done and just before take off they leapt up and removed their bags, obviously believing nobody would notice! I certainly did and was concerned that if we did have a crisis on the flight these bags including a metal briefcase would become deadly missiles. Fortunately the eagle eyed cabin attendants soon appeared and placed the bags back where they belonged and instructed the passengers to leave them there until landing in Cape Town. Why are people so very stupid?

  3. Also, please pack quiet toys for babies and toddlers. Soft books, puzzles etc.
    My mom once told me that during a flight in the 1960s, she didn’t stop my brother from kicking the seat when she realized the prime minister was seated in front of him. She said she wanted to see his face when he turned to look. He did and my brother stopped kicking. LoL

  4. I have two to add:
    1. Noisy headphones – either from a personal source or from watching a movie on the inflight entertainment. Keep it down, especially on night flights.

    2. Bags. When you get on a plane and other people are already in their seats, spare a thought for the passengers in the aisle seats. They don’t need your bag slapping them in the back of the head or the face because you’re only focused on finding your seat. This has happened to me twice in the last year. People are careful with the big bags, but not the ones hung over their shoulder.

  5. Things I would add:

    1. Hygiene – Make sure you have a shower and wear deodorant before ANY flight, and maybe bring your deodorant stick with you to reapply on long flights. Make sure you keep a clean shirt to wear for your flights, instead of one you’ve worn multiple times while traveling… there is nothing worse than sitting next to someone with bad body odour. On the other hand, be conscious of strong perfumes / colognes / body sprays, as they are intensified in the confinement of an airplane and can be very bothersome.

    2. Earphones – During a recent flight to South Korea, the man next to me was watching a movie on his iPad WITHOUT EARPHONES. I had my earphones in with music, trying to block out the sound to sleep (yes, this was over night), and could still hear the noise of his action movie through my own earphones. Despite multiple dirty looks, the man didn’t take the hint until he decided to go seep himself. I was hoping the flight attendants would be conscious enough to ask the man to be respectful but unfortunately no one did!

    -As for arm rests, I once read an article which made sense, in which the person in the middle seat should be given both arm rests. Let’s face it, middle seats are the worst seats, and if you’re on a window or an aisle, you get an arm rest by default, se it’s only fair the middle person gets both, at the risk that they won’t get a single one!

  6. The pulling on my seat to get up is my greatest irritant!

    I was amused by irritant no 6; kids. And the advice to “make an effort to calm the disturbance” and so, you inspired a blog post: https://www.babyabroad.co.uk/Blog/childrens-behaviour-on-aeroplanes-how-you-can-help-dear-traveller/

    I do think there are many things parents can do to help control children’s behaviour, but there are one or two things those travelling without children can do to help us out!

    May all your travels be irritant free (and I don’t mean I’ll be leaving the kids at home)!

  7. I know it’s involuntary but I live in fear of farting on flights! I always have extra perfume (usually non chemical) on my wrists to help me through these moments (and I do think about what I eat before a flight in case they’re mine)!
    Sarah (mildly giggling)

  8. “Better still, do some exercise and go on a diet.”

    Because throwing in some fat-shaming was totally necessary. Classy. Aside from that line, this was a pretty good piece.

  9. Hello Elle, thanks for dropping by. I’m certainly not looking to “fat shame”, whatever that may be (I get the gist). I would stand by that advice for a number of reasons:

    1. you’ll be more comfortable within your seat

    2. it’ll cost less (if you take one seat rather than two)

    3. it’ll be in the interests of your own health

    Disclaimer (for the sake of absolute clarity!): by “you”, I am not here referring to you, personally.

  10. You can use your mobile on most Emirates flights already. Doesn’t seem to be that much of an issue.

  11. Be quiet, clean, dress appropriately, don’t drink too much, don’t disturb others, be polite, and be considerate. Oh and lobby the airlines for more space – that would be the biggest improvement we could get!

  12. In reply to one of the commenters above: hygiene is important. Taking a bath before you fly is a good idea, plus it keeps you feeling fresh if its a super long flight.

    Also, in reply to the first commenter: people in the middle have a choice of arm rests, since they’re in the middle.

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