Over the past few years, I’ve traveled quite a bit and been pretty lucky when it comes to airplane seatmates. I’ve been fortunate enough to sit next to friendly, polite, interesting people who respect my personal space but will happily tell me thrilling tales about their childhood spent in a religious cult when prompted. That all changed this weekend, when, over the course of four short flights, I encountered a morning talker, an excessive ball scratcher, a sulfurous human gas machine, and a man who was smugly eating heaping bites of slimy homemade coleslaw out of a plastic bag. This is ridiculous, I thought, there should be laws against smug coleslaw crunching on airplanes! Since we managed to outlaw smoking on planes, here are some of the in-flight infractions that should be next…
1. Excessive genital touching/scratching/adjusting. Listen, I grew up with three brothers, so I’ve heard many lectures about how ball sack adjustments are “a necessary and beautiful part of life,” but dude, when we’re sitting this close together, reaching down there more than a few times per hour is going to make things awkward. And when it’s often enough that I’m not sure if you’re touching yourself for, well, business or pleasure, then it’s definitely TOO MUCH.
2. Talking before 10 a.m. I don’t necessarily want to talk to anyone before 10 a.m. even in my normal day-to-day life, but when I’m traveling in the morning, I’m generally even more groggy, grumpy, and overwhelmed than usual. As wonderful as my seatmate might be, morning flight quiet time is a must.
3. Eating loud or pungent foods. Leave the tuna salad and Limburger cheese at home, OK?
4. Farting. I understand that there are times when gaseous emissions are unavoidable, but if there’s any way to regulate your flatulence or save it for the bathroom, everyone else on the plane would really appreciate it. It’s shocking how quickly a 747 can transform from a state-of-the-art flying machine to a Metal Fart Tube From Hell.
5. Loud snoring. Again, I know that this is sometimes an unavoidable fact of human existence, but do what you can to keep it under control.
6. Letting your kids run wild. I almost always feel compassion and sympathy for parents who have to endure the glares and sighs of every other passenger on the plane as soon as they get in line to board, but all of my generous feelings disappear the minute you let your kid sprint up and down the aisle or throw his juice cup at my head.
7. Taking an aisle seat when you plan to sleep for the entire flight. This forces people in the middle and window seats to wake you up by awkwardly poking at your shoulder saying, “Excuse me? Excuse me?” whenever we need to pee. Unacceptable.
8. Reading over your seatmate’s shoulder. I have no idea why my issue of SkyMall would be any more interesting than yours, but come on buddy, you’re creeping me out.
9. Taking off your shoes. If you’ve got fresh socks and/or very clean feet, this isn’t a problem, but otherwise please keep those shoes tied. An enclosed space full of stale air is not the place to air out your sweaty tootsies.
10. Fighting with your significant other. Remember on “Seinfeld” when Vegetable Lasagna got stuck between Elaine and Puddy as they were breaking up–and getting back together–during a flight? So freakin’ awkward. Travel is stressful, and fights happen, but there are much better places to hash out your relationship drama than 40,000 feet in the air in front of a captive audience. You know the saying, “Never go to bed angry”? Yeah, never board a plane angry either. Duke it out in the airport instead, and then buy each other a bagel sandwich and call it good.
Alright guys, what awful airplane behaviors would you add to the list?