Are you a candidate for most-hated passenger on the plane? If you're guilty of any of the following bad habits, you'll likely be the subject of disdainful glares, sanctimonious whispers, and violent revenge fantasies on your next flight. Here are 10 signs that you're the human embodiment of all that is wrong with modern air travel.
Your Seat Is in the Lap of the Person Behind You
Don't get us wrong: We support seat reclining -- within reason. Look behind you. Avoid reclining during mealtime. Maybe don't recline your seat at all if you're sitting in front of Shrek. This is how you can handle that button on the armrest with grace. But passengers who cruelly swing their seats back dentist-chair-style and leave it leaning from takeoff to landing? They give considerate recliners a bad name. Look behind before you recline!
Where are your shoes? If they are not fastened to the ends of your legs, then there is a problem. Don't tell me that your feet don't smell, because according to an extensive body of scientific research, the majority of people with smelly feet are completely unaware that they have smelly feet. And it's more than just your naked extremities: From supersonic farts to smelly snacks to bad breath, there are untold ways to offend the olfactory nerves of your fellow flyers. If you or your belongings emit a perceptible odor, we can pretty much guarantee that everyone in the neighboring rows wants you to go away forever.
Your Kid Is Out of Control
The polite tolerance of screaming babies is a generally accepted part of the social contract. A baby can't help screeching like a cat being murdered. Babies cry; this we understand. Out-of-control seven-year-olds are another matter altogether. If your kid is old enough to read (and doesn't live with a sensory-processing disorder or other medical impairment), he or she is expected to follow basic commands such as, "Don't touch that lady's hair." Otherwise, your failings as a parent will be noticeable to everyone on the plane.
You're Captain Grabby Hands
If you grab the seat in front of you every time you get up, you are the worst. There's not much more to say about this. Flying is uncomfortable enough without having your seat pulled back and released like a slingshot at unexpected moments. Don't touch anyone's seat unless you're about to fall and it's the only way to prevent a face-plant on the drink cart.
Yes, Bridesmaids is funny. You like jokes. We get it. But not everyone on the plane is watching the same in-flight feature as you. Many of your seatmates are actually trying to sleep. In the confines of an airplane cabin, your shrill cackle has the auditory effect of squealing breaks or the Aflac duck. Same goes for chewing food with an open mouth, listening to loud music on cheap headphones, playing any kind of game with sound effects, making bodily noises, crying because your vacation is over, or having a boisterous conversation.
You're Feeling Very, Very Friendly
In-flight dating apps like Wingman should be illegal. Can't the airlines do something to block usage of these hellish apps that enhance the possibility I'll be reaching for the barf bag? Airplanes are gross enough as it is. Even a platonic attempt at stranger-to-stranger human connection can quickly become inappropriate and aggressive when made in flight. The object of your attention has nowhere to hide in the event that he or she really isn't interested in talking about weekend plans and the weather. So whether you want to make a friend or a "friend," table it until the plane lands.
You're Doing Things That Should Only Be Done in Private
Use your imagination here. This could include anything from picking at your bare feet to examining your split ends. You might think that your seatmate doesn't notice that you're scratching at the scab on your arm throughout the flight. But trust us -- he does. And it's making him uncomfortable.
You Think You're a Special Snowflake
You may be surprised to learn that you are not the only person on this plane. Look to your left. Look to your right. There are other people! In the event that you are not flying on an empty ghost plane and that you have purchased a coach-class ticket, follow these simple rules: Do not use the flight-attendant call button as your ring-for-service bell. Do not snap your fingers at the flight attendant because you want more ginger ale. Do not spend 30 minutes looking at your phone in the bathroom. Do not ask to switch seats on a full flight because you are in the middle seat and you don't like it. And so on.
Basically, pack away your delusions of grandeur and try to behave in a cooperative fashion. If you didn't spring for a ticket upgrade, don't expect a superior, personalized flying experience.
One of the worst conceivable places to lose your inhibitions in a sea of SKYY vodka is on a flight. You're packed in a metal tube, where boozed-up conduct that would, at worst, garner an eye roll on the ground could easily attract the attention of federal authorities. Yell and use profanity in your local watering hole? You'll be asked to leave. Yell and use profanity at 30,000 feet? You'll face a police escort and disorderly-conduct charges in federal court.
You're Invading Space
Your carry-on items are commandeering the floor space of your seatmates. Your butt is in someone's face for an interminable period of time as you wait to use the bathroom. Your fat duffel bag takes up an entire overhead bin. Your elbows are poking across adjacent seats. If these statements describe you, then you're an airplane space invader and you need to be stopped. The solution is easy: Check your oversized bag, and keep your butt and elbows (assuming you know the difference) in check.
-- Caroline Costello