The Top 7 Annoying Things People do When Flying

Ed Nathanson
8 min readFeb 16, 2021


I am not someone who enjoys flying (just ask my wife and kids). Every bit of turbulence that hits I get white knuckles and probably freak out everyone sitting near me. Traveling is great when you GET to the destination, but I personally hate with the power of 10,000 Death Stars the “airport experience”. My business for 25+ years has been people, and overall I love my fellow men and women. However, I turn from Bruce Banner into The Hulk when I see how my fellow humans behave at airports and on planes. For whatever reason, any shred of intelligence or humanity we have in our normal lives gets thrown out the window the moment we enter an airport. This blog was going to happen sooner or later, but what inspired me to do it now was a recent conversation about a past travel experience I had. I had paid for an upgrade at the terminal to get a “more space but not quite first class” seat. I was excited — it was a long trip across the country from CA to MA and I was going to be able to get some needed sleep in a much better seat. I sat down next to a very nice elder gentleman and a younger teenage boy. I opened my book and the plane lifted off. For the next 5 hours it was a conversation. Singing happened too — seriously. It was late and all I wanted to do was sleep. Nope. They were way too nice for me to tell them to leave me out of their conversation (really — they were good peeps) but dammit if a flight where I paid extra to get some stretched out sleep turned into a conversation that I most definitely didn’t want to have. My point — just because we sat next to each other on a plane doesn’t mean it’s social time. I even tried to put on my headphones at one point and they didn’t get the hint. Anyway — onto the list. If you are any of these people I beg you, DO take offense and change your ways. For the sake of all that is good in the world — learn from this post.

7. You will get a seat, I promise — You are at the terminal. The Airline employee announces the plane will be boarding soon. You have an economy seat in zone whatever. You proceed to stand up and wait right in front of the terminal ticketing space like a ravenous dog in fear you won’t have your seat on the airplane. And I hate you. Look at your ticket, see that “seat number”? That means you have a seat and no one else will be able to take it. This is one of those social phenomenons that I love/hate watching at airports. Does waiting in line for something you aren’t going to be called for in 20 minutes while others who actually are called for have to edge their way by you and your carry-ons make you feel better? Trust me, you will get on the plane just fine and they aren’t going to leave without you if you sit the hell down while you wait for your seats to be called to board the plane. Instead, what happens is a clusterfuck of people actually following the process who have to “excuse me” their way by you and your 100 other mindless compadres clogging the whole area. Now I hear you already saying/thinking — “well, I have my carry-ons and I want to make sure they get put in the overhead and not in luggage”. To you I say: THEN DON’T BRING MORE THAN YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO AS CARRY-ONS. If you are in a zone that will be loading later in the on-boarding process, suck it up and check that thing. It will make things better for all of us. Yet, most of you fight this to the very bitter end, getting in heated discussions with the folks at the terminal or start smushing other people’s bags to try to squeeze your backpack or duffle bag into areas they cannot possibly fit. If you can’t tell, my blood is boiling just writing this.

6. Farters and Coughers (who don’t cover their mouth) — Look — I get it. These are bodily functions we all do and sometimes can’t control. HOWEVER — when you are in a large metal tube thousands of miles in the air with no air circulation, this can become a MAJOR problem. Coughing (especially if you are sick) is one of those things you probably cannot help. What you CAN help is covering your damn mouth when you do it. Back to my story of the two peeps who talked my ear off for 5 hours last week. One of them let out a big cough and did not cover his mouth. Wouldn’t you know it, almost in slow motion I watched his disgusting phlegm go right in my drink. Needless to say I wasn’t thirsty anymore. As for farting — this is something you definitely can control — if you can’t you should probably go take a dump and solve the problem instead of gassing me like a death row inmate. I always say to people who tell me they “couldn’t help it” that what would you do if you were on a date and you “couldn’t help it?”. Exactly — you suppress that thing like a good boy/girl should do. So when you let out silent but deadly farts that you think no one smells — think again. We all smell it and are repulsed by it. Planes have these things called “bathrooms”. If you REALLY cannot help yourself, get up and do your thing in there. Heck — we all like the smell of our own brands and in your solitude you can enjoy away. Just don’t subject me and the hundreds of others on the plane too.

5. Hovering over the carousel like Zombies ravenous for brains — Much like reason number 7 here. Your bags will be there — I promise you (unless you fly American — a whole other story there). We have all been on a plane for several hours and the last thing we want is for people to be uncomfortably close to you once you are on land. I think. Well — maybe not. Because like clockwork, once you get to the baggage carousel people crowd up on you and jostle for position to be right next to/on top of the frigging thing. If we all just took a deep breath and backed up a scoche we can all see our bags rolling by and grab them comfortably. Instead, I have to pull my best Cam Neely fore-checking to get my bag every single time. Additional rant — the people who can’t seem to figure out what bag they packed and proceed to pick up 10–20 other bags that aren’t there, look at them quizzically and then put them back on the carousel. Here’s a helpful hint — look at the bag you packed and try to remember what it looks like. Please?

4. The Seatmate Chat Crew — I am often traveling alone, so of course I am sitting next to complete strangers. Yes, we are sitting way too close for human beings who don’t know each other for an extended period of time, but this in NO WAY means we have to be buddies. Nor does it mean I care about your life story or your business. I am a networker at heart for sure, but flying is one of those times where I like to disconnect. Yet, without fail, people just cannot shut their mouths and feel the need to discuss everything from sports to politics to world economic conditions. Here’s the kicker — as you are literally stuck with this person for several hours, you HAVE to feign interest and engage. To do otherwise would make the flight even MORE uncomfortable. Try to sleep. Read a book. Listen to music or watch some movies. Just please don’t turn to me and engage in conversation.

3. The chair all the way back peeps (in Economy) — We all need to share a common space (a very small common space) for several hours. Also, 98% of us aren’t sitting in first class. We should all come to a mutual understanding that we need to throw the word “comfort” out the window when we enter the aircraft. The space to operate in economy these days is pathetically small, yet people still don’t seem to get that it is totally not cool to lean your chair all the way (possible — those things suck too and go back not that far) back in front of the person behind you. Why? OK — let me help you inconsiderate jerks understand. See — there’s this thing called my “legs”. I can’t move them when you do that. Also — say I want a drink or something to eat? You know that tray thingy that you have too in front of you? When you lean back it becomes obsolete. I read the other day in the news that a flight had to do an emergency landing because some dude choked the person in front of him for doing this. Now — I don’t condone violence, but I understand why that dude was really pissed off.

2. The person waiting for the bathroom with their ass in your face — If you can sense a theme here, it has to do with personal space and bodily functions. Yes — we all need to go to the bathroom and sometimes the need arises thousands of feet above the earth. I also understand that because space is so cramped, there isn’t a lot of places to wait while someone else does their business ahead of you. HOWEVER — what is totally NOT COOL is to wait in my face — literally. People love to just come right up on you when they are waiting and I just don’t get why this is OK in the air when they would never in a million years do that on the ground. It is not cool to have someone’s butt or crotch in your face while they wait to relieve themselves. Also — when doing this please don’t start reading my book or watching my screen too. That just makes me double hate you. Helpful hint — if there is a crowd for the bathroom, go back to your seat and watch for when the line lessens. THEN you get up and go.

1.10,000 years to get off the plane — All of the things above upset me greatly about flying, but this one is number 1 by leaps and bounds. Let me explain. When you land, we all want to get the hell off of that plane and stretch out, etc. Yet, for some reason beyond comprehension, the group of folks in front of you take their sweet ass time getting off the plane, leaving you stuck waiting for what seems like ages. They flounder around their seats, pack up some stuff, put on jackets, take their sweet ass time getting their bags from the overhead, gab — whatever. The thing they SHOULD be concentrating on is getting off the plane — fast. But nope. People seem to lose 20 IQ points in this scenario and just cannot seem to get their acts together. The whole disembarking thing should take 100+ intelligent people no more than 5–10 minutes — tops. Time this the next time you fly. Last week? 27 minutes. Unacceptable. If you are one of those people who are not prepared for getting off of the plane and take your sweet ass time doing so, then you have no soul.