What is it about flights that seem to bring out the worst in people?
It’s probably both, because spending hours in a claustrophobic tube eating notoriously terrible food, as all chance of shut-eye is snuffed out by the incessant hum of ‘plane noise’, does not create an atmosphere of tolerance.
That said, people really don’t help themselves – here are 10 plane behaviours guaranteed to draw everybody’s ire.
1. Stealing the armrest
Armrest etiquette is not up for negotiation – it’s a matter of right and wrong.
Window sitters get the pretty views, and the ability to wedge up against the fuselage; aisle dwellers get legroom and easy toilet breaks. Those unfortunate enough to be stuck in between have an unalienable right to the adjacent armrests. It’s all they have.
2. Leaving children unsupervised
Parents of screaming children deserve limitless sympathy – it’s much harder for them than for you – and even shooting them a dirty look is a major cheap shot. Infants cry, and sometimes infants fly.
But there’s a special circle of hell for parents who distractedly sip gin and tonics while their spawn hurtle up and down the aisle, play video games with the sound on, and carelessly batter the seat in front.
3. Disembarking before your turn
We’ve all seen them – the inexplicably keen beans that leap up the moment the seatbelt sign turns off, and hang like coiled vipers ready to spring into the aisle ahead of time, earning them a maximum two places in the passport queue.
It doesn’t matter how many frequent flyer miles you’ve totted up, priority boarding only applies the other way.
4. Talking to strangers
Chatting with strangers is something of a lost art, and in most walks of life, we’re all for it. But a plane passenger is a captive audience – they have no choice but to bear your efforts at small talk, trapped by the knowledge that if they’re rude to you, they still have to sit next to you for however many hours are left.
It takes two to tango, and plane partners are all too often coerced.
5. Poor plane hygiene
There’s a special sub-genre of human that instinctively removes shoes and socks when they board, and hotbox the cabin with foot odour for the entirety of the flight. If you’re bored, watch a movie. Don’t absent-mindedly start flossing, or clipping your toenails.
6. Making inappropriate jokes
Oh, how funny you are, pretending to cough on your fellow passengers during a viral outbreak, and how original it is, to loudly remark “Well, if I did have a bomb, I wouldn’t exactly tell you would I!?”
If you’re lucky, you’ll just irritate everyone on board. If you’re unlucky, you’ll find yourself in a windowless room being strip-searched by the TSA.
7. Putting your seat back
If it’s dark outside, and the person behind you is both not using the tray table and under 5′ 9 (1.75m) … maybe you can put your seat back. Maybe.
8. Overhead locker abuse
You get one bag, and no more. Your metre-long poster tube should be in the hold, your bundle of clothes should be under the seat, and your second ukulele should definitely have been left at home.
And for the sake of your sanity and your no-claims bonus, do not trust the lockers with anything fragile. If it can’t be shunted against the back wall by a jet-lagged backpacker cramming in a bag of overpriced fridge magnets, it probably shouldn’t be up there in the first place.
9. Getting drunk
You’re crammed knee-to-knee with hundreds of your peers in the human equivalent of a sardine tin, so believe us when we say that no-one wants to hear your rendition of Stacy’s Mom.
In a club, pub or bar, the proprietor can eject you from the premises should you become drunk and disorderly. On a plane, much as your fellow passengers might wish it, they can’t.
10. Attempting to join the Mile High Club
There’s something almost impressive about mastering the geometry required to do the deed in a germ-coated shoebox that’s at least 40 per cent toilet, while a growing queue of passengers hop from one leg to the other outside.
Whoever said romance was dead?
Do you agree? What do you wish other people would stop doing on aeroplanes?
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