Everything You Shouldn’t Do On An Airplane


“I can’t go to the bathroom back there. It wouldn’t be fair to those people.”

So said the old man to his wife in the aisle across from me on this very airplane, just minutes ago. I am currently sitting in the 23rd row, across from this gentleman, who apparently has a bathroom issue so severe that it could contaminate everyone in the back of the plane. But not dire enough that it actually requires him to use the restroom at all, as he has just now sat calmly back down, and is paging through a magazine. What could that be?! Is it contagious? Is there any possibility he could explode? I’m starting to get afraid. He’s just sitting there reading Skymall, being not unfair to the people near the bathroom. But what about me, old man? What about me?!

Although flight attendants give an extensive dissertation on the rules of airline travel before every flight, they leave several crucial issues undiscussed. Obviously I have to buckle my seat belt and not smoke Marlboros in the lavatory, but what if I want to eat a tuna fish sandwich? Is stinky food simply inappropriate, or explicitly illegal? Can I take off my shoes? Other people take off theirs, and I want to know why. When did sneakers become such an ungodly prison of discomfort? And what about Old Man Walton over there? Is whatever he is afraid to do in or to the bathroom actually verboten?

In an effort to answer some of these questions, and distract myself while the man across from me tries not to die, here are a list of things you must never do on an plane.

Be the Annoying Seat Swapper: “I’m flying with my boyfriend, and he’s in row 20, would you mind trading seats?! We’d realllllly appreciate it!!” And then she smiles and blinks her eyes, as if three seconds of flirting is the necessary fix-all for any situation. Well, let’s see, Blinky Deville. I booked this flight three months ago and specifically requested an aisle because I’m tall like a circus clown. And you and your boyfriend (who seems like a great choice, by the way, because Ed Hardy is totally still a thing) got two unconnected middle seats, which means you bought your tickets, like, Tuesday. So am I gonna give up my precious-as-gold aisle seat so you can sit next to one of the Home Improvement kids and talk about Jagermeister together? No I am not. Even with your tantalizing promise to “realllllly appreciate it.” I will always swap with someone who’s part of the aisle brethren, but I’d sooner sit in a panini press than in the middle seat of the airplane. Enjoy this opportunity to not have to make conversation with Eddie H. Believe me, a few hours into the vacation, you’re gonna miss it.

Be the Annoying Aisle Seat Person: As an aisle seat devotee, I know this scoundrel well. “Don’t worry, guys!” he says with confidence to the people in his row. “You can get out whenever you want, just ask!” Then ten seconds later he falls asleep for ten hours straight. You poke him, you ask him, you cough louder than anyone’s ever coughed before—nothing. I see it happen around me all the time. The desperate look of a window seater that’s screams “If you don’t wake up, I’m going to be on you, and it will mostly be an accident!” If you’re on the aisle, stay awake, or be easily awoken. Don’t give my people a bad name.

Be An Overhead Compartment Piggy: We all know what bags are permitted and what bags are not. That roller suitcase the size of a Buick fits distinctly in category “Not.” Don’t be a piggy.

Hit The Call Button: Even the devil looks at people who hit the call button on an airplane and says, “Really, dude? Kind of a dick move. Who do you think you are, Jesus Christ?” Get up and get your own damn ginger ale.

Puts Your Seat All The Way Back: You know that hard thing you feel as you ram your seat all the way back the second we hit cruising altitude? That’s my knees. And my patience. And your dignity. If you put your seat back, then I have to put my seat back, then the guy behind me will do the same, and the guy in the last row, who can’t, will commit suicide. It’s not like airplane seats immediately become comfortable with two extra inches of pitch. They’re a nightmare at any angle. But, If you need to go to sleep, fine. However if you just want to read US Weekly in luxury, go buy a Barcalounger.

Throw Up In The Bag: As someone who frequently gets airsick, let me tell you this: it blows. I mean, there is no more awful feeling than realizing you’ve become horribly ill in public, reaching for the airsickness bag and hoping it will save you from complete embarrassment, then realizing it’s about the diameter of a garden hose. When’s the last time you actually looked at one of these things? The mouth is about the size of a playing card, and the bag itself is like three inches deep. When did this change? I mean, what airline executive looked at airsickness bags and “Sure, they work, but can we make EVEN SMALLER?!” They house puke! How about we give ‘em a little extra wiggle room?! Yeah, you might perfectly thread the needle and get your mouth into the opening, all while your body violently convulses, but then you have to adjust the volume to make sure it doesn’t splatter back on your face, or more importantly, anyone else. Have you seen what happens when someone tries to puke in a toilet? THEY MISS. Pretty much every time. And toilets are gigantic. What do you think happens when they try to throw up in a bag the size of a 12 year-old girl’s shoe? I’ll tell you what happens. A whole lot of people get puked on. Which is about as fun as it sounds. Believe me, travelers, I feel your pain. But please, empty your stomach in the bathroom if it all possible.

With that being said, the man across from me has now peacefully fallen asleep. I’m not sure what will happen next, but if you never hear from me again, please tell my wife and family that I loved them. (Or rather, my girlfriend and her cat.) 

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