Skip to Content

Gross things people do on a plane!

People do disgusting things on a plane – and a train for that matter! I have sat next to some lovely people in the sky and I have sat next to some not so lovely people.

I’m calling out air plane etiquette defects that some people exhibit, after experiencing too many of these behaviours from my fellow passengers and I trust you weren’t one of them!

1. Do not put your feet on the arm rest in front of you

I know it’s tempting and sometimes I have even found myself with my toes wedged the gap, but if you were the person in front, that is just gross. ESPECIALLY if your feet are bare.

A solution is to try out one of those foot rest hammocks that hang over your tray table and allow you to take the pressure off the lower back by putting a foot in that. Kiwis can check them out at the Travel Store.

Which brings me to point 2…

2. Shoes, socks and bare feet

If you take your shoes off on a long flight, like I do, be courteous enough to throw a blanket or something over your shoes, lest their fragrance waft up the nose of your unsuspecting neighbours.

AND I always take slippers to wear when going to the bathroom. The chances of those splashes on the floor being from the basin are slim!

Feet on a plane
Oh puh-lease lady!

3. Do NOT cut your nails

Ugghh! When is it ever okay to take out your nail clippers in the middle of a row of three and start clipping your nails?

This happened to me, as I squished myself as far into the window as I could while Mr Fingernails set about trimming them and collating them in a little pile on his bag in front of him.

I guess it could have been worse, he could have let them fly off around me. What did I do? Why I tutted and hurrumphed and was very lemon-lipped, while the woman on the aisle started flicking her clothes and joining me in the tutting.

He then stopped, gathered the little pile and, I’m not sure if he was looking for the sick bag but to no avail, so he pocketed them.

Gross things on plane
No. This is NEVER acceptable! Pic Flickr/iMorpheous

Incidentally, it is not just bad etiquette but bad luck to cut your nails or your hair – or anything else on your body – in Vietnam. I found this out when I trimmed a snag off my thumb nail while on a tour.

The guide was standing almost beside me talking to us all on the bus and nearly had a conniption. Apparently to cut something from yourself means you will crash. We didn’t crash.

4. Use deodorant, please!

On the rare and very lucky occasions when I get to turn left and sit in a Business Class seat, I expect to feel a little bit special.

What I don’t expect is to spend the entire flight gasping for air against the window because of Mr Armpit who has settled in across the aisle.

What is it about not putting a clean shirt on and giving your armpits a bit of a spray before you board a plane?

And yes, he removed his shoes too. So that, and combined with the outcome of his strenuous activity required to get them off, the blend of fragrances was startling.

Sitting next to Mr B.O. in economy is so much worse because we are that much closer! They really should carry deodorant up the front along with the defibrillator.

Bad passengers
I needed this breathing suit sitting next to the Stink Bomb! Pic Flickr/Kyle Simourd

5. Do you have to eat that smelly food?

I get that on domestic flights you don’t get a meal provided, but seriously I wish people would stop and think about the pungency of what they are buying in the terminal to bring on board. Or just the sound eating it will create for your neighbour.

I sat next to this girl on a high speed train in China and she donned a plastic glove on her left hand and proceeded to open a container of chicken feet and suck and munch them. Hideous to look at, hideousER to listen to!

She’s got her glove on and that box of chicken feet is too close!
Eating chicken feet on train
The chicken stump!
Chicken feet on train
Don’t worry hun, I’m not going to grab it!

6. Don’t use the little towels to clean your bits!

You’d think this goes without saying, but I have seen (as I’m sure you have) people using the rolled up moist towel you get given on some flights, not just for their hands and face, but their armpits. I even have it on good authority from a former air crew girlfriend that people also clean their, ahem, bits with it.

These towels are NOT for pits and bits. They are for hands and faces only.

7. Don’t hog the armrest

I once read that the person in the middle has right of way when it comes to armrests and I’ve abided by it ever since.

It makes sense because the passengers on either side can lean outward. However, when the Man In The Middle overextends his arm so that his elbow sits permanently under your rib cage, it is definitely not okay.

When he moved to get something out of his bag at his feet I wedged my elbow by the side to protect by flubber!

It was a silent battle but I feel like I won.

If you’re planning a cruise, you really need to read my hugely popular post covering 11 things NOT to do on a cruise!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!