In a week when a video of a plane passenger sleeping with her bare feet resting on two windows has gone viral, the issue of annoying airplane passenger behaviours is back on the minds of many frequent travellers. 

Bare fee in the aisle of a plane
Taking your shoes off midflight is a contentious issue © Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy

The video was shared by the Instagram account @PassengerShaming, and it showed an unidentified woman sleeping on two seats, with her bare feet up in the air resting on two of the plane’s windows. The reactions on Instagram and Twitter suggest that fellow passengers do not appreciate this kind of behaviour when travelling within the confines of a plane cabin. Close proximity means bare feet or strong perfume can really make the journey uncomfortable for your fellow travellers. 

reclining seats.jpg
Passengers are often divided on the etiquette of reclining © GaudiLab / Shutterstock

Leaving aside the current threat posed by the coronavirus, 40% of American passengers are most annoyed by being seated by someone who is sick with a regular illness but has chosen to travel, according to Expedia.com's 2019 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Study, which surveyed 18,237 respondents across 23 countries. According to the survey, those who are ill and must travel should clean up around themselves and ask to be reseated away from fellow passengers. Those encroaching on other's space are also annoying, particularly if they're hogging the armrest or falling sideways when napping, and the report advises those who think they'll need more room to stretch out during flight to consider paying a bit extra to upgrade their seat.

The behaviour that drives people mad includes having their seats kicked by children in the row behind, particularly when their parents blithely ignore what's going on. The subject of the person in front reclining their seat is always contentious, but it's particularly annoying while the passenger behind is eating. We all understand that babies will cry on a flight due to pains in their ears – even George and Amal Clooney had to deal with that issue. 30% of passengers are annoyed by the inattentive parents who merrily read their books or catch 40 winks while their darling offspring are running around the cabin or making noise.

Bare feet 2.jpg
Passengers baring their feet is a contentious issue © Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

Then there are the neighbouring passengers who insist on talking while you're trying to nap, and those on the inside who keep getting up and down to retrieve things from the overhead bin or visit the bathroom. Drunk passengers were actually deemed to be the most annoying globally, 43% of global respondents ranked them the worst, and we have all been there when a someone has had too many pre-flight drinks and is loud and lairy on the flight, disturbing the peace and making demands of the cabin crew.

You might also like:

The dos and don’ts of flying etiquette from a frequent traveller

Explore related stories

Dominical, Costa Rica - An aerial view of a car driving along a dirt road surrounded by water on either side.  © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Destination Practicalities

Getting around in Costa Rica

Jul 3, 2024 • 6 min read