Whether you’re an avid traveler or this is your first time holding on for dear life as the plane taxis down the runway, there are a few common mistakes that many passengers make. Some of these seem as though they should be obvious no-nos, while others, even the most experienced travelers are guilty of.
1. Sleeping During Takeoff or Landing
You know how air pressure can cause that super uncomfortable feeling in your ears during take-off or landing? This is because the air pressure around you changes faster than the air inside your ears. Usually this is easily fixed with a yawn, sucking on candy, or chewing gum. However, if you sleep through the air pressure changes you’re not able to equalize the pressure in your ears, which can result in an ear infection, eardrum damage, dizziness, nosebleeds, and as a worse case scenario, severe hearing loss. Solution: Absolutely no snoozing during take-off and landing.
2. Using the Overhead Compartments as Closet Space
There’s no need to stuff jackets, shoes, blankets, every piece of carry-on luggage, and everything else but the kitchen sink in the overhead compartments. Most airlines allow two carry-on items, which means that you can have a smaller personal item one under the seat in front of you as long as it doesn’t block the path to the aisle, and the bigger piece can go overhead. More and more passengers are trying to avoid baggage fees, so competition for carry-on space is getting fierce. Solution: Don’t push your carry-on allotment to the max and leave the overhead compartment as minimalist as possible.
3. Treating The Tray Table as a Baby Changing Station
Just don’t. This is unsanitary as tray tables are not cleaned between flights and in a few hours someone will be using that same table to have their lunch, or even just rest their hands or items on. It’s also inconsiderate to your seat-mate, especially if the diaper is particularly smelly. Solution: Most airplane bathrooms have a changing table. If not, you can use the closed toilet seat as a makeshift table. Put down a cloth or blanket for sanitary reasons and dispose of the used diaper appropriately (ie: not in your seat-back pocket!).
4. Barefoot or Sock Only Trips to the Bathrooms
See that puddle you’re standing in? It’s quite possibly urine. Imagine if you’re barefoot or in just socks while standing in someone else’s urine. Let that sink in for a moment. As flight attendants don’t clean bathrooms during the flight, whatever mess—no matter how innocent it may appear—you encounter, could very well be a health hazard. Solution: Keep your shoes on. If you want to air out your toes, throw on slippers during the flight. Nobody wants to see or smell your feet inflight.
5. Constantly Ringing for Flight Attendants
While flight attendants are there to help and serve, ringing the call light simply for a refill on a drink or some other trivial matter wastes their valuable time. They are not your personal butler ready to fetch you a blanket at whim (unless you are trapped in your seat by sleeping seat-mates). That button should be used in the case of emergencies, or to highlight the urgency of a situation, or to ask an important question. Solution: If it’s a simple request, take a trip to the back galley and ask for what you want there.
6. Consuming Too Much Alcohol
It isn’t that flight attendants don’t want you to get your drink on, they just need to monitor how much you’re consuming for your safety, and that of those traveling with you. There’s no set number of drinks they can serve each passenger, so it’s left at a rather vague guideline of not serving any passenger who appears to be intoxicated. Most of us have been on flights where that guideline was loosely interpreted. And in case you were wondering, you’re not allowed to bring your own bottles of booze onboard, even if they are under the 3oz rule. Solution: Have a cocktail or two if you must, but don’t go overboard with the booze. It tends to hit you harder at higher altitudes.
7. Flight Attendants are Working; You’re Standing in the Galley
When you make the galley your chill-space, you are effectively slowing down flight attendants and their process of serving or attending to other passengers. When the front galley is blocked off it’s even more serious, as this means the pilots are on deck. Think of the galley as their cubicle in a busy office, and imagine what it’d be like if people continuously parked themselves there for no other reason than to spark conversation or doddle around. Solution: If it’s urgent, by all means interrupt as you must, otherwise, give the busy attendants their privacy and space.
8. Being Inconsiderate with Food Choices
Gone are the days when airlines served chicken or beef options to all passengers. Now we have sketchy a la carte choices, so many of us are bringing our own sustenance onboard. Yesterday’s lunch might be the most delicious thing in the world to you, but if it smells horrible, is dripping, squirting, or leaking all over the place, leave it in the fridge at home. It’s an easy way to show consideration for other passengers and the cabin crew. Solution: Choose foods that have pleasant and muted aromas, or easy combinations like sandwiches sans stinky condiments.
9. When the Bathroom’s Your First Stop
The seatbelt sign is lit during taxi and after take-off and passengers are supposed to stay in their seats with their seatbelts fastened for safety purposes. If you’re busy headed to the bathroom during this time you could delay take-off, as you’re not in your seat. Solution: Have a little foresight and use the bathroom before boarding. There will be a period of time—during taxi and after take-off—when the seatbelt sign is lit and passengers must stay put.
10. Bare Feet on the Seats or Walls
Your feet should remain on the ground, in shoes, or at least in socks (if you’re not going to the bathroom). You’re not supposed to put your feet up on the walls or seats, especially if they have a pungent odor. Be respectful of your fellow passengers. It’s just unpleasant to have to look at strangers’ feet. Solution: Keep your feet clear of the bulkhead.
11. Ashtrays to Open Bathrooms
You might be giddy with excitement or tired after traveling for days, but remember to read signs carefully. Use the “push” option to open bathroom doors, instead of accidentally pulling out the ashtray. Yes, you’re not allowed to smoke on planes these days, but there are still ashtrays in many airlines’ lavatories as they’d prefer rogue smokers to extinguish their cigarettes in an ashtray rather than the combustible garbage. It’s hard not to identify this metal object with a picture of a lit cigarette tapping against a line, but some people mistake it as the door handle. You could pull so hard it’s dislodged, which leads to stressing yourself out over possibly destroying airplane equipment. Solution: Read the signs carefully and use the push button.
12. Manicures With Stinky Nail Polish or Remover
Fumes are toxic and as aircraft utilize recycled air systems, they can be harmful to passengers and cabin crew. These fumes can’t be properly filtered and that means an entire flight breathing potentially toxic air. It’s because of this that the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits use of both nail polish and nail polish remover on flights. Solution: Use these products before or after landing. Frankly, don’t take care of any personal grooming issues in your seat (nail clipping, nose hair trimming and the like). Your seatmates don’t want to see that!
13. Impatience After Landing
The more people rush, the slower things go. Before you’re even out of your seat, you should make sure that the plane has landed safely and is in its parking position. During this time the doors won’t be open either way, so waiting is necessary. Remember, everyone is going to get off the plane and rushing to do so first could end up harming another passenger or cabin crew member, or yourself. Solution: Take a moment, breathe, and be thankful that you’ve made it to your destination safely.