A Guide to Everyone You Hate on Planes, and How Not to Be One of Them

Illustration for article titled A Guide to Everyone You Hate on Planes, and How Not to Be One of Them

Ugh, people are the worst. Most days, I can barely even look at them. The way they eat, the way they breathe, the way they look at you all needy with their eyes wanting you to care about them. It's disgusting. So it's no surprise that a survey about things people hate most about other people on planes revealed that the thing we all agree is the most vile about people: their people-ness. So if you're flying this holiday season, please do us all a favor, and act like anything other than a human for once in your entire hideously gross existence you call a human life.


Don't think our aversion to actually interacting with you means we haven't noticed you! We noticed. Did we ever. Expedia dot coooooom noticed. They asked 1001 wackily numbered adult humans to rate 19 different ways people act just like people while 30,000 feet in the air, existing pathetically as the humans they dare to be. They wanted to know the top worst possible ways people could be themselves while seated for a coupla hours on a nonstop to Denver + a great deal on a rental car or whatever. And 1001 adults were not afraid to point their critical, germ-covered little fingers at their fellow passengers.

You know what they hate the most? That everyone does the following things, in this order, the moment they board a plane, and refuses to stop:

  • Pull a cord on a child's back activating nonstop tantrum mode
  • Kick the back of the seat in front of them
  • Fart or waft body smells
  • Get shitfaced
  • Begin yapping their heads off about their lives like a "Chatty Cathy." (p.s. I vote to change it to "Chatty Charlie")

In short, they act like people. So in order to Act Correctly On a Plane This Holiday Season ™, I would strongly advise the following rules:

  • No breeding
  • No movement
  • No farts
  • No drinky
  • No talky

Got it? It's so simple!

Let's go over them again:

  • No breeding
  • No movement
  • No farts
  • No drinky
  • No talky

Sure, you could ask why we do these things. Why must we breed, move, fart, get shitfaced, and start yapping when we go somewhere? Why must we act like ourselves in all scenarios under all conditions and why must it be so smelly and talky and sad? Can't we ever just be more like something we saw on television?

The answer is no. Instead, we hate these people who do these things. And we hate these things because we can't escape our smelly escapist selves. A plane is a mirror. It's where we've got nothing better to do but sit with ourselves until they finally let us turn our phones back on. It's a trying time for everyone, so pretty much literally all we can do is pass the time examining the many flaws of others, from their chosen brand of watch to their ridiculous facial hair, and hope they really want to hear about our Christmas plans.

The only acceptable response to this survey is self-loathing. Because to battle directly with these egregious instances of humanity would be to gaze directly into the fart-saturated flotation device of darkness. And who wants to do that?


[raises hand]


Why we hate them: Face it, people who have created tiny humans only remind us of our own vulnerability. Their inability to control their own spawn reminds us of how fragile and tenuous our own existence is. Also, kids say the same things over and over, and those things are often dumb things. "Why do we have a face?" etc.


Why we should give them a tiny holiday break: To graciously admit it's hard to make a kid act right is to graciously admit it is hard to make a person act right, and many of us are fully grown adults who do not, in fact, act right — seriously who are you bullshitting with your loud chewing and terrible cologne? Also, we're already raised. So it's a bit hypocritical to now be annoyed with fresh people as if we weren't little shits once making life miserable for all parties back in the day.


Why we hate them: Duh, no one wants their seat getting kicked nonstop except a seat-kicking fetishist and I KNOW for a fact I just made that up right?


Why we should give them a tiny holiday break: Restless leg syndrome? Nervous tic? Because with a kid, it's either the lesser of two evils, AKA, a seat kicking or a tantrum? Nah, this one is just unbearable and should've been number one on the complaints list. Physically repetitive kicking is far worse than crying and nonstop questions, which you can drown out. Ask them to stop, and call a flight attendant if necessary.


Why we hate them: Knowing you're going to be around a lot of people in close quarters for a hot minute ought to remind us to give everything the old rinse-off of compassion. Anyone who doesn't do this is a bad citizen, an egregious observer of the social code, and should not be allowed in our re-circulated air, right?


Why we should give them a tiny holiday break: Smells are complicated, some people don't even know how they smell, some people are depressed, some people think they smell awesome, and one woman's whiff of fresh-cut grass is another woman's gag reflex. Also, farts, which are prolly 98% responsible for Terrible Plane Smell, are unavoidable. Especially on planes. There is pretty much literally nothing to be done by passengers about this problem — I say we pass it off to the airline. Because what is the alternative? Mandatory showers? Who polices that? No strong smells? Define strong? Shouldn't anyone who purchases Drakkar Noir be eliminated from weighing in on its irritation quotient? Unsolvable.



Why we hate them: Disruptive drunks on planes are, well, disruptive. And sad, and angry, and possibly violent, and often leering. We hate them because they are irritating and no one wants four hours of hot rum-and-coke breath.


Why we should give them a tiny holiday break: They are an uncomfortable byproduct of the uncomfortable fact that planes are a kind of hellish, uncomfortable, existential torture in our lives, just like life itself for many people, where we can't escape ourselves or each other. Drinky types tend to want to do what they do best with such scenarios: drink. Give them compassion to a point, and flight attendant intervention when that point has been crossed with any violations.


Why we hate them: Hey lady, I'm trying to read here, not learn the unabridged history of your relationship with your estranged daughter in Tucson.


Why we should give them a tiny holiday break: You know, I'd have guessed the talkers would've ranked higher. We have mouths and we made a language and all, but for some reason the thing we hate the most is using it, and being forced to respond to those using it at us. Especially in close quarters. But the flipside here is you can learn about someone else's life for just a minute, and it might be real interesting. And that is good if for no other reason than that it lets you escape your own. Booze optional.

Image by Jim Cooke, source images via Shutterstock.


Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

I used to fly enough to probably have elevated cancer risk, so I'm like, an expert and stuff. Also, a lot of this is going to come out really cranky because I'm sick and hate everything right now.

A few personal thoughts on people I hate while traveling:

1. People in the TSA line: these rules are pretty much a decade old. It's time that you got with the program and figured out that you have to do the stupid taking-off-the-shoes and belt dance before getting patted down by TSAbots. Seriously, they announce it every 15 seconds. STOP NOT GETTING IT.

2. People boarding the plane: if you put your bag in the first bin you see instead of the bin above your seat, then you are a giant walking asshole. Stop being that person. Put your bag, wheels-first, in the bin above your shitty back-of-the-plane seat. You aren't special. If you were, you'd be flying in a private jet or at least in first class instead of being with the rest of us plebes in cattle class. Get over your indignity and put your bag where it belongs.

3. Chatty people: I'm not here to talk. I'm here to have 3-5 uninterrupted hours away from my shitty job and watch movies on my iPad. No, you don't get to look over my shoulder and watch the movie with me. My wife gets that privilege. You do not. I don't care about your life story. You aren't more interesting to me right now than whatever shitty movie I rented on my iPad. Can you make a car explode? No? Then shut up and let me have my quasi-solitude, please.

4. Flight attendants: seriously, if you don't want to help people for a living, get another job. I hear the DMV is hiring. I get it, you deal with insufferable people like me all day who have the audacity to ask for THE ENTIRE CAN of a drink. But seriously, do you think the airline is going bankrupt because my bored business traveling ass is asking for the privilege of a whole Coke Zero? No. It's going broke because airlines are a shitty business that usually break even in the best years.

Also, I never turn off my devices fully ever because airplane mode is fine even based on the asinine FCC regulations. Yeah, I'm a rebel. Take that.

5. Pilots: please stop announcing when we're over something. I hate having the middle seat person trying to lean over me to look at some barely discernible landmark. Seriously, can I just watch my movie cars explode?

6. People eating obnoxious smelling foods on planes: Fuck you. That is all.

7. Armrest takers: If I'm the unlucky middle seat person, I get both arm rests. Get. Over. It.


9. Regional jet airlines: please pay your pilots more. You're scary.

10. Finally, to the overzealous airport cops who like to harass me WHILE I'M UNLOADING THINGS, seriously? I'm unloading a bag. Telling me that it's a loading zone is kind of redundant WHILE I'M UNLOADING. We get it, you couldn't hack it in the actual police academy, but you still have a gun. Good for you. NOW STOP BEING A BUTTHOLE.

So yeah, seriously, when I have headphones on, please don't talk to me.