20 Types of Airline Passengers to Avoid

Random Articles for Travelers

This is likely an exercise in preaching to the choir but let's face it; the traveling public desperately needs a lesson in common courtesy. There is something about flying that can turn ordinary people into inconsiderate passengers.

Here is a shortlist of types of offenders, along with some tips to respectfully alleviate the problem, where available. The following list is mostly in jest and it is understood that people sometimes behave in an inconsiderate manner unknowingly or accidentally.

1. The Horizontal Space Monopolizer

This person reclines the seat, especially when done abruptly and without regard to the body position of others in the aft direction. A tip that was given on another website devoted to airline travel prescribes opening the air gasper (air vent) and putting it in the full forward position. In this position, air will be blowing directly on the head of the person in the seat immediately forward when their seat is reclined.

Feeling a little cramped
Feeling a little cramped

2. The Lateral Space Monopolizer

Using the armrest isn’t a faux pas, but sticking extremities into the seat space adjacent is. That is exactly what this person does.

3. The Overhead Luggage Wrangler

Watch for these passengers when they are removing their carry-ons from overhead bins directly above to avoid a concussion. They seem to have no concern for the people around them, are generally not very strong, and oftentimes try to remove very heavy bags…. the worst combination possible.

If you see this scenario about to occur, offer a helping hand.

Stuffed in an overhead bin
Stuffed in an overhead bin

4. The Groomer

Flying on airplanes is not the time to pull out the toenail clippers or any other type of grooming for that matter. No one wants your clippings, dead skin, hair, etc on them so keep your grooming habits to yourself.

This is not the place to cut your nails
This is not the place to cut your nails

5. The Gate Hoarder

Gate Hoarders are passengers who, when the announcement for pre-boarding and first-class begins, crowd the boarding door and are a hindrance to the proper order of boarding passengers. Things will move a lot smoother if you stick to your designated boarding group – the plane isn’t leaving without you!

6. The Chitter Chatter

Although inherently not a gaffe, when the person next to you doesn’t take the hint that you are not in a talking mood and would prefer to sleep it can become a problem. If this happens, politely mention that you enjoyed the chat and would love to continue the conversation after you have had some shuteye.

7. The Lounger

Shoes come off and bare or socked feet are propped up. Let the relaxing begin! This person is often a combination of Lateral and Horizontal Space Monopolizers. An airplane is not your lounge room so please be respectful of the people sitting around you.

Feet up
Feet up

8. The Complainer

When travel plans are awry, everyone within earshot (and beyond) is going to hear about it.

9. The Disc Jockey

This passenger lacks earphones and plays movies and music for an unwitting crowd on their portable device.

10. The Carousel Blocker

Sure, everyone wants to be in a good position to retrieve their luggage from the baggage claim but these people stake their claim at the front of the crowd and seem to make it their mission to stop anyone else from picking up their bags.

Crowded carousel
Crowded carousel

11. The Silent but Deadly

Airplane engines are loud enough to mask the sound of passing wind…..this does not give you free rein to let it rip throughout the flight.

Is there a gas leak
Is there a gas leak?

12. The Dis’owner

Kids will be kids there is no doubting that, and as much as we hate to have a screaming child nearby it is generally an unavoidable situation. The Dis’owner parents are a whole new breed though, letting their children run amuck without any concern for the people around them. It is sometimes difficult to know if they are in fact the parents.

Screaming kid
Screaming kid

13. The Aisle Hog

There is a simple rule when boarding (or exiting the plane) – Find your seat as swiftly as possible, place your gear in the overhead locker then take your seat. This is not the time to hang out and chat with your friends in the aisle forcing the people around you to wait. TheAisle Hog can also be found seated during the flight with their legs blocking the aisle, similar to the Lateral Space Monopolizer.

14. The Carry On Abuser

We all want to try and save a few dollars by packing light and taking carry-on luggage only. Unfortunately, these people have no concept of what will fit in the overhead bin (nor do they seem to care). You will recognize them as they make their way down the aisle, dragging their bag which is bashing into seats left and right.

Oversized luggage
Oversized luggage

15. The Human Infection

Yes, there are times when it is unavoidable and we happen to be sick when flying…..no one’s denying that but seriously show a little decency and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and if possible wear a mask.

A trio of surgical masks
A trio of surgical masks

16. The Obstacle

This person seems to make it their mission to create the biggest barrier possible for you to get by. Sleeping with your head on the tray table might be comfortable for you but it creates a Ninja Warrior course for those trying to get by. The Obstacle often leaves their tray table down for extended periods of time before and after meal service.

17. The Stinker

The Stinker boards the flight with major B.O. To avoid this, pack a small deodorant in your carry-on and apply it regularly. Of course, showering before you arrive at the airport is a no-brainer too… but sometimes we are forced to sprint between gates to make our next flight and a little sweat is unavoidable.

18. The Drunk

No explanation really needed for this one. This passenger feels the need to exploit the free bar by downing as many drinks as humanly possible.

Drunk passenger
Drunk passenger

19. The Seat Grabber

Pushing up off the back of the chair in front of you is not on. To avoid this, simply ask the person next to you if they can stand up, or use the handrest to prop yourself rather than annoying the person seated in front.

20. The Eavesdropper

You are entrenched in your book, magazine, tablet, or other media device and have a feeling that someone is watching over you…. this is the Eavesdropper at work. It is not cool to invade someone’s privacy by reading over their shoulder at any time. The worst offenders can’t help but look over and watch the movie that you have selected in the in-flight entertainment.

Whatcha readin
Whatcha readin?

It is important to note that we have tried to outline situations that can easily be fixed rather than legitimate issues that often get discussed (eg. overweight passengers). That being said are there any types of airline passengers you would want to avoid that we may have missed?

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Michael Glass

Michael is the founder of Backpacker Travel. He also runs walking tours in San Francisco and is a freelance travel writer. Michael is extremely passionate about travel and loves to explore festivals around the world.

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