Are you a rude flyer? Here are the signs

We all have tactics to get through travel. 

It may be noise-cancelling headphones, only travelling with carry-on or good old-fashioned sleeping pills.

Well, those may all work for you, but what works for everyone around you?  Manners.

Here are some signs you are a bad-mannered traveller.

Space invaders

I get it, airlines seem to be labouring under the illusion we are all contortionists. They are giving us less and less leg room and seat size with every new cabin design. This naturally creates some problems with personal space. 

But don’t be a space invader. Keep to your own space by sharing the armrest if possible and keeping to your own leg space. If you need extra space, book an exit row or premium economy. Spoil yourself, even consider business. Use your loyalty points if you need to. 

And don’t hog the overhead lockers. Cramming in carry-on luggage, a thick coat and a personal bag is just plain rude. 

What’s your angle

Of course, we also must mention reclining. Your guide here is just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 

My rules for reclining are: never on short domestic flights, never at meal times, never if the person behind you has a child on their lap, and only if the person behind you is also reclining. 

All bets are off in business and first class, they are designed to recline.

Be organised

Have everything you need for your flight in reaching distance. Constantly getting up to remove things from the overhead locker is inconvenient for those around you and a sign of poor planning.

And when getting up, resist the temptation to haul yourself up using the seat in front. This can be a tad off-putting for the person sitting there. Follow the flight attendants’ example and balance yourself by reaching above for the bulkhead. 

Don’t intrude

You are crammed in a metal tube with a bunch of people you would never likely choose to be with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think of others.

Keep your voice down, don’t carry on conversations during ‘sleep’ time, don’t wear overpowering perfume or deodorant (but please wear deodorant), and stand up to let your seat neighbours through.

Be nice to the attendants

The flight attendants are there to look after you, but they are not your slaves. 

Unfortunately, there seem to be some lingering cultural expectations from when they were considered little more than eye candy. 

There is a bunch of stuff that people seem to think is acceptable in the air, that they would never try at the local café.

If an attendant says ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ you should reply. It’s not sophisticated to ignore them, just because you have flown a lot. 

Don’t touch them. You wouldn’t paw at the person making your coffee at the local, so don’t do it to a flight attendant.

They are working. Pushing the call button when there is food service or people are embarking or disembarking is not going to get you anywhere. Be patient. 

Clean up after yourself

Things I hate about some other humans: their seeming inability to clean up after themselves. Also an issue in cinemas. I do not want to go to these people’s homes. 

One of the world’s most annoying phrases is “it’s their job”. It’s not about that, it’s about being responsible for yourself and thinking of others. 

It’s just not that hard to keep your space clean. Flight attendants seem very keen on roaming up and down the aisles with bins, even on short domestic flights. Just put your rubbish in there. 

Can you add to this list? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: Feeling spooky? Discover five of Australia’s most haunted spots

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. I am generally very easy to get along with, but on a flight this week to Singapore a young couple who had the luxury of spare seat quickly hit the recline button as soon as flight reached cruising speed. It was so they could comfortably lie down together after lifting the arm-rests out of the way. I tolerated it for some time, but when they attempted to recline it again whilst I was eating, I pushed back on it. They got the message.
    The next flight a young lady did a similar thing, again when it was meal time. She got the message.
    I would be very happy if the airlines banned it in cattle class, unless the seat behind is vacant.
    We are all packed in like sardines, just don’t make it worse for others by being inconsiderate.

  2. I particularly hate the fact that some males when they sit down they have their legs wide apart, so the person next to them loses some of their precious legs room. I don’t know if they are unaware of what they’re doing, but I’m sure they are and hope you won’t say anything. If everyone used their manners the time on flights would feel less, and everyone would feel much happier by the time they reach their destination.

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