7 Things You Should Never Do on a Plane
Tips & Tricks
7 Things You Should Never Do on a Plane

Every frequent flier knows there are unspoken rules that everyone must abide by while on a plane. A kid kicking your seat, someone eating a particularly pungent food mid-flight, or a passenger rushing to grab their bags as soon as the plane lands, are all considered big no-nos. Whether this is your first flight, or you’re a seasoned passenger, read on for our list of things you should never do on a plane.

Don’t Stand Up as Soon as the Plane Lands

Airplanes waiting at gates.
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This particular rule has gotten a lot of press in the last few years. It’s been scientifically proven that waiting for each row to grab their luggage from the overhead bins in order is faster than if everyone stands up at once, vying for their bags. Unless you’re in a desperate situation, and run the risk of missing your next flight, stay seated and wait for your turn.

Don't Eat Smelly Food

Man holding a sandwich and looking out the window on an airplane.
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There’s nothing worse than settling into a flight and the person behind you opens egg salad or a hot, steamy meal from one of the airport restaurants. Breathing space is scarce while flying, so bring snacks that aren’t pungent or at least wait until the food is served on a long-haul flight before digging in. Your seat neighbors will thank you.

Don't Drink the Tap Water

Plastic cup of water of airplane seat tray.
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The drinking water systems on airplanes aren't the most sanitary. This goes for not only the “tap water” but also the hot water that goes into making coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. This is one of those moments when sealed bottled water is the only way to go, for the sake of your health.

Don't Take up Extra Space in the Overhead Bin

Two carry-on suitcases in overhead bin on plane.
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You’ll commonly hear flight attendants reminding passengers not to take up extra space in the overhead bins with personal items or accessories. Overhead bin space is reserved strictly for carryon luggage and is often limited to begin with. Unless it’s a roomy flight, it’s best to either bring less items if you don’t like cramped leg space, make sure your loose belongings can fit into your overhead bags, or to just tuck your purse or backpack under the seat in front of you. Those straggler passengers will thank you when they can easily tuck their suitcase above their seat.

Don't Sprawl Out

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This is a common annoyance and perhaps one of the worst grievances among flight goers. Airplane seats are already tight and personal space is limited, unless you’re lucky enough to fly first or business class. Try to keep your hands, feet, and, well, everything else, to yourself at all times. The same goes for reclining your seat unnecessarily. Although this is in the same vein as sprawling out, it can be a little harder to abide by if you’re flying overseas or across the country.

Don't Be Rude to Flight Attendants

Close up on two flight attendants, a man and woman.
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Flight attendants are your friends and allies in the sky. Need some earbuds to watch a movie? They’ve got your back. Want extra water because the dry air is getting to you? Voilà, it will appear at your seat in minutes. Once you’re on a flight attendant's bad side though, good luck. Being rude is only going to earn you potentially poor service, some ugly glares from your fellow travelers, and a general disdain from the entire cabin crew. Remember, flight attendants are hard at work while you recline in your seat in the sky. Treat them with respect.

Don’t Take Over the Armrests if You’re an Aisle or Window Seat

Empty airplane seats in the cabin.
Credit: Atstock Productions/ Shutterstock

An unspoken rule that many may not be familiar with is that the middle seat gets the armrests. Window and aisle seats already have a bit of extra room. The window seat can lean against the plane wall while the aisle seat gets to spread out a bit more. Giving up a sliver of space so your middle seat friends are more comfortable is a small price to pay so everyone on board is happy and relaxed. After all, the flight is only a fragment of your trip and everyone is uncomfortable to begin with.

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