6 most irritating actions of infrequent flyers

Tap, tap, tap...hello? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Tap, tap, tap on my seatback…hello? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Over time, most frequent travelers adopt an unruffled, zen-like attitude when it comes to flying. But at times, especially during the peak summer travel season, infrequent flyers exhibit certain behaviors that get under their skin.

Below are my top six irritants. What are yours?

1) Seatback tappers- You know,  the ones who repeatedly tap-tap-tap on the seatback entertainment screen to play games, change channels or who knows what. Since they don’t fly much, they don’t realize how irritating it is for the person in front of them to feel that constant knock that hits square on the back of the head. As soon as you think they’ve quit, it starts over again. After about 15 minutes, I’ll turn around and give ‘em an arched eyebrow… what about you?

My most famous foot photo ever (Chris McGinnis)

My most famous foot photo ever (Chris McGinnis)

2) Feet people- These travelers must think their pink toes are cute, but their seat mates think they are pretty gross. Pack your flip flops in your carry on and wear shoes and socks on the plane, please. On long, overnight flights, it’s fine to remove shoes, but please put them back on when going to the lavatory (that’s not just water on the floor in there…). And when you get back to your seat, never, ever prop those puppies up on the wall, tray table, armrest or elsewhere. 

Beware of pushy recliners! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Beware of pushy recliners! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

3) Pushy recliners- These folks can do real damage to an open laptop, or knock a drink right out of your hand and into your lap. They apply full backward pressure on the seatback, and then POW! They discover that that funny little button is what makes the seat go back– and right into your personal space. I can’t say this with complete authority, but from what I observe, most frequent travelers no longer recline their seats unless they are on an overnight flight. Do you still recline?

4) Aisle hogs- During boarding, these are the folks who think they can yank their overstuffed wheelie-bag down the aisle, and act surprised when it doesn’t fit and they keep running into seats and knees. Pick the bag up already, and get down the aisle! There are 150 people behind you! And once you’ve stuffed that monster into the bin, don’t go back and block the aisle while you fetch your magazines or iPod. Sit down in your seat and get outta the way. You can go back to your bag after we take off. (Check out what my colleague Spud Hilton has to say about those whale bags.)

5) Boarding line breakers- These are the novices who act like they are deaf or don’t speak English, or can’t read when gate agents are boarding by zone, and wander into the zone 1 group when they are actually in zone 5. What are even more irritating are gate agents who don’t pay attention and let these slouches board anyway. Back off, Jack!

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Please cover in close quarters! (Photo: Placbo / Flickr)

Please cover in close quarters! (Photo: Placbo / Flickr)

6) Typhoid Marys- Most frequent travelers know that when they are in tiny tubes darting through the stratosphere, they should keep their germs to themselves. (See feet above.) Most infrequent travelers haven’t learned that yet, and sneeze or cough without covering. These are the same folks who grab their bags in overhead bins by the wheels (which have rolled through all kinds of muck), and then touch seatbacks, tray tables, armrests, light switches or air vents. If you are seated by the window, these are also the hands passing drinks and food to you. Yuck! Bring on the Purell and the face masks!

Okay, now that I’ve let off some steam, it’s time  for me to retreat back into my frequent traveler zen skin and to remember that now’s the time to offer tolerance (and maybe even help) to the infrequent flyers, especially during this peak summer travel season. All of us were novices at this game at one time…

But… what about you? What habits of infrequent flyers irritate you most? Please leave your comments below!

(I ran a similar version of this story last summer, but it’s always worth repeating during the busy season!)

–Chris McGinnis


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