Travel Tips

The 10 Worst People To Sit Next to on a Plane

Sartre was the first to say hell is other people. And never has that adage been more true than when you fly. Here are the 10 worst passengers in air travel today.

1. The Crying Baby


The poor child? Poor you. Nothing you can do with this one but grimace and smile and hope that you’re only on a commuter flight. Otherwise it will be a long one. Learn from past times and bring earplugs. Parents can be proactive: Offer an apology and maybe buy a round for those in closest proximity, it’ll make everyone nicer. Cash works too. If you’re feeling extra nice, offer to help the parent with hoisting their bags into the overhead bin, or keeping their drink on your tray–a less-harried parent can mean a much calmer baby.

2. The Smelly Person


Hygiene is a personal issue. However when we’re sharing four feet of space it is no longer just your decision. It affects all of us and yes, we do know if you forgot to pack deodorant. Recycled air pumping down on us doesn’t help the situation. Pretend a plane is a date, and please bathe. You can also bring a travel bottle of Febreeze to discreetly spray at them at the first opportunity.

3. The Talker

Did you know that your seatmate’s grandchild just won the spelling bee in their hometown in Iowa? No? Don’t care? Too bad because that is what you will be hearing about on that 5-hour cross-country flight. With your luck you’re in the middle seat between two talkers who eventually get sick of your halfhearted replies and start talking to each other over you. Pretend you’re a celebrity with this one and throw on a cap, sunglasses, and big headphones. Or pretend you don’t speak English.

4. The Sick Person

We’ve all been this person while traveling. You had a trip coming up and didn’t get enough rest (or maybe had one too many at happy hour) and now you’ve got a cold. Or the person behind you is apparently allergic to airplanes because they are sneezing into the back of your head every three minutes, and their parents didn’t teach them the golden rule of hand over mouth. Then there is the cougher, the sniffler, and the list goes on and on. People, if you’re sick on a plane, do us all a favor and pack throat lozenges and Kleenex within easy reach, and drug yourself with Nyquil prior to getting on board. A sleeping sick person is always better than an awake one. Take some zinc and multi-vitamins when traveling as plane rides are an easy place to get exposed to germs. Or practice holding your breath.

5. The Head Rolling Around/Can’t Keep Still Deep Sleeper


You want to sleep on a plane? Cool, so do I. Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to do when you are snoring incredibly loud next to me, drooling, and mumbling about the zombie apocalypse as you plane dream. If your head even starts to lean towards my shoulder the flight attendant button will be pushed. My only advice for this one is to maybe Benadryl yourself so you guys can sleep together. Take turns using each other as a pillow.

6. The Drunk Person


Leaning too close, talking loudly, and sweating out booze is some of the perks that come with sitting next to this one. That’s great that you wanted to use up every last second in the airport bar getting yourself hammered and then rolled onto the plane with the intention of seeing how many mini bottles of vodka you could put in your body, but please, please keep to your side of the armrest, or do us all a favor and pass out. Or maybe join this person on the road to sloppiness and tell whoever is picking you up from the airport to be ready to party!

7. People who Dress Inappropriately


Remember the days of yesteryear when a plane ride meant people wore their best clothes and dressed to impress? Neither do most of us. But according to Mad Men, this did at one time happen. These days cross your fingers that the man next to you isn’t wearing super short shorts, or the woman’s cleavage isn’t hanging out at every splash of turbulence (not everyone will agree with that last one though).

8. The Person Biting Their Nails

biting your nails person

Biting your nails, or smacking your gum, licking your lips, or some other weird personal tick you might have. This is not enjoyable for anyone but you. Please do it at home. Dirty looks are the best way to combat this annoyance.

9. The Pastrami Sandwich Carry-On


We all have the right to eat whatever we please. If you desire a smelly, onion-meat sandwich in your body please indulge, but do so in the terminal and not on the plane. When you’re sitting next to me and space out eating smelly food for the duration of the flight shoving the half eaten carcass in the seat pocket in between bites it is not enjoyable. For your digestion or me. For the sake of us all grab a granola bar. Bring some aromatherapy oils to sniff. They mix beautifully with stale cabin air and provide a slight relief from the pungent scent.

10. The Small Bladder Window Seater


You know who you are. If you need to use the restroom every 20 minutes maybe request an aisle seat and don’t buy the big gulp. Nobody wants to do the awkward plane seat shuffle more than once a flight. Someone will always trade you for that window seat. Promise.

For more travel etiquette tips, check out:

By Laura Lee for