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Don’t Be One of These 11 Annoying Travelers

One of the things I notice when I travel is how wonderful some people are to have as traveling companions and how annoying others can be due to various liberties they take with both traveling etiquette and respecting personal space. The intention here is to poke some fun and remind us all NOT to be that person. Did I miss your favorite annoying traveler? If so, please let me know in the comments section.

Here’s my list:

The Talker

Chances are, we’ve all had several travel experiences nearly ruined by the The Talker.  They come in many forms and test our patience in ways we can barely control.  They’re on their cell phones right up to the minute the doors close. They carry-on loudly about everything from board meetings to physical ailments or family disputes that we never wanted to know about.  Then, as soon as the cell phone is off, they proceed to talk your ear off.  The slightest nod or greeting provokes their entire life story going back to early childhood.

The Talker

Gate Zombies

You’ve seen them. Their ticket says they are in Zone 3.  But once the pre-boarding announcement is made, they, in a slow unrelenting creep make their way forward and position themselves in a defensive position and block the boarding path.  Undeterred by the passengers who need assistance, families with small children, they make way for no one.  Not even our men and women in uniform who serve our country. Watch out Gate Zombies, I will roll my heavy carry-on over your feet.

Airport Gate

Germ Spewer Extraordinaire

Too sick to travel?  Can’t decide what sick means?  You’re all excited about your vacation when you notice continuous blowing, sneezing and other wheezing sounds coming from your seat companion. They are obviously too sick to be anywhere, yet here they are in your personal space.  Now you’re paranoid.  Will I get sick too?  If you’re lucky they’ll take some medication and fall into a deep sleep.  Unlucky and they’ll cough and sneeze on you the whole trip, nervously sharing the story of how and why they’re traveling in such a state.  These folks are potentially lethal to any vacation, beware!!

Germ-Spewer

Armrest Clasher

They can be large or small, thick or thin, male or female…you never know who will take over the armrest and never let go.   They seem nice enough and then suddenly they make their move and it’s gone.  You don’t get to rest your right or left elbow for the rest of the trip.  Sometimes I lay in wait for the moment to reclaim the armrest, like when they get up to use the restroom.  Usually it’s a fleeting victory because the Armrest Clasher is an expert with the ability to reclaim this valuable asset in seconds.  Yes, you’ll find a way to be comfortable without the armrest, but you can’t quite forget about the inconvenience.

Armrest

Overhead Binger

The Overhead Binger couldn’t possibly know that one overhead bin is allocated for the 6 seats below.  So they think it’s all theirs.  Yes, it’s all about you and your belongings!!  Go ahead and store your carry-on and your rather large personal bag up there.  Don’t forget your coat, umbrella, newspaper and gigantic tote bag.  I don’t think anyone else is bringing anything on the airplane.

Overhead Bin

Backpacker Boxer

I know backpacks are super comfortable, the good ones almost sculpt to your back so it doesn’t even feel like it’s there.  Here’s the thing…it is THERE.  And as you make your way up the aisle and turn back to hear something your friend just said:  YOU ARE HITTING ME IN THE HEAD WITH IT.  Please make a note and manage your spins accordingly.

Backpack

Boozy Bonehead

One of my least favorite travel companions is the Boozy Bonehead.  When they slide into their seats, it’s obvious to everyone they have been drinking in the terminal.  They are off-balance and usually smell of scotch or whatever they have been enjoying.  Jittery and impatient, they start drinking as soon as possible after boarding.  You pray silently that they are quiet and relaxed vs. irritable and annoying.  If possible, get another seat far-far away.  It doesn’t hurt to let the flight attendant know about any passenger that is one step beyond tolerable limits.

drinking-on-airplane

His/Her Royal Highness

While this traveler is annoying, they are also a little entertaining.  I know you know who I’m talking about.  They are looking for special treatment from everyone.  My favorite is when they have to be the first to board, due to some special situation.  Then they have to be the first one off the flight because they have a VIP function, are late and their limo is waiting.  Or some other dramatic nonsense.  They always travel in special princess/prince attire and will stomp on your foot with their fancy shoes if you try to get on or off they flight before they do.

princess

The Concert Pianist

You’ve seen them on every mode of transportation.  Mr. or Ms. All Business board and they’re instantly grabbing their laptop out of their case.  Once it’s out they start frantically pounding on the keyboard as if performing Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 in C minor.  Yes we get that you’re a little behind on e-mail.  Save it for Carnegie Hall people.

Beethoven

Team Drill

Not just one, but a group of people, who once the plane lands and the seat belt light goes off, immediately jump up to get their carry-on, which they hold perilously over their heads and bring down into the one inch of space between them and the next person waiting in the aisle. You almost took out three people but you saved 30 seconds.  Nice job.

Aisle

Annoyingly Amorous

Have you ever been on a flight and an overly affectionate couple gets into the seats in front or behind you.  You glance their way and notice them and then hope they settle in for a nice quiet journey.  Reading your book or watching a movie, you think the storm has passed when they start up again.  You’ll swear they are seconds from joining or re-joining the Mile High Club, right in the seat behind you.  Behave yourselves people!  You are not alone, you have traveling companions.

Amorous

Who is your least favorite traveler?

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This Post Has 55 Comments
  1. Sadly the worst offenders… the airlines frequent flyers who think “they didn’t mean “I” couldn’t bring on 6 things or expect “ME” to put ANYTHING under my seat” LOL!

    Not to mention they assume that since they didn’t get the First Class upgrade they are still allowed to board with First Class.

  2. The recliner – the person (usually the one sitting in front of me) who reclines their seat all the way to the point where I want to ask … would you like for me to provide you with a facial? And usually they do this with absolutely no warning or checking, so god forbid I be bending down to pull something from under the seat in front of me.

    1. Yes. THE absolute worst! They always do it so sudden and fast and it ends up slamming into my knees or head!

    2. Yep , this is my pet peeve when flying – the inconsiderate recliner!
      Maybe since airlines are making huge profits now, they should show a gesture of good will towards us passengers – their cash cows. Give us enough space to have arm / elbow rests for each passenger, enough space for a reasonable recline without inconveniencing the passenger behind.

  3. A variation on the Overhead Binger is the person that thinks it’s ok to move every one else’s things around, in an already full overhead bin, in order to fit their bag in. It’s even more annoying is when they aren’t even sitting in a seat near that overhead bin.

    1. Well…with overhead bins, they run out of room on most flights. That is why some people are forced to use overhead bins that aren’t by their own seats. I’ve had to put mine about 15 rows up before. Also, if there is ROOM to move things around, (most of the time even though it appears to be full, there are ways to make more room), then the people who first packed their things did so wrongly, and that’s on them. You bet I’m gonna re-arrange something if my bag can end up fitting because of it. Otherwise, I’m forced to check my carry on which usually has breakable things! We all need to stop hating on the people who are effected by the airline’s issues.

      1. Not what I said, Pickles. I had a guy hand me some else’s bag to hold, while he started banging other people’s stuff around, which like YOUR bag, may also have breakable things. Guess what? He still couldn’t fit his bag, because the overhead was full. I’ve had several variations on this, including one which resulted in a camera bag being dropped on my head. I have no problem even helping someone find room for their bag, if there is room to be found. What I was talking about is people who have no regard for someone else’s stuff. We all need to stop hating on other passengers who might have gotten on the plane before you.

  4. The back seat kicking kid and their parent who make little to no attempt to get them to stop. Even when asked politely asked, the parent glares at you like there’s something wrong with you to complain about being kicked in the small of the back for hours.

    1. I think I hate that the most!! Made a trip from CA to TX seem extra long on a night when I was extra tired. Started out politely to ask them to please stop. Then tried again. Then a 3rd time to no avail. The mom just looked at me. sigh.

      1. I agree with the back kicking child. I have had back surgery so am very firm the second time with parents and suggest they switch seats with me so their child does not further injure my back which would require me to bill them for any further medical issues. Has worked so far.

  5. We refer to the Gate Zombies as Gate Flies since they are circling the gate like flies on a piece of (insert your own analogy) fruit! Also, don’t know what to call them but the children who insist on putting their feet/toes in the space between the seat back and seat bottom thus hitting the person infront of them in the rear.

  6. I think you got them all!
    100% agree with the person who said “The Recliner”. I’m 6’3″ and this person makes uncomfortable flying excruciating.
    (And his/her younger variant, “The Rockette” practicing their kick routine into your seat, while Mom/Dad do nothing OR get mad at you if you ask the kid to stop.)

  7. The Headphone Screamer: primarily young people (but a few who apparently want to lose their hearing in older age) who put on their headphones, or earbuds, and then turn them up so loud that you get to share their music, video or game, whether you enjoy it or not.

  8. Parents with unsupervised small children. I know it can be hard to travel with an energetic toddler. All I ask is that they not give them free rein to run up and down the aisle of the airplane, or the airport waiting area, or the restaurants in the airport. Corral those little whirlwinds, get a leash if necessary. Just keep them under control.

  9. The Personal Travel Guide: The traveller who is so experienced they want EVERYONE to know that they’re THE traveller to get in touch with to find out the know how of everything on the ground. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local flying home and they’re just landing for the first time, they’ll be sure to tell you that their transportation plans into the city and their choice of cafes/ restaurants/ sites are 10x better than whatever you would recommend

  10. These are all excellent reminders of why I hate traveling, especially by plane. Staycations for the win, and I’ll watch Travel Channel to see everything else. 🙂

  11. The Seat Graber : They conviniently sit on the seat that are not theirs. When you claim your seat, they have numerous reasons why they have to get that seat and make you take another seat. Sometimes the help from flight attendants can force them to move, but sometimes they are too stubborn for their selfishness. This is mostly happen to window seats.

    Toilet Nightmare : Yes, they already spend quite some time on the toilet plane, that makes you have to wait like forever. But the worst part is they don’t flush and threw tissue anywhere. Yuck! Sometimes I just get out and decided the take another toilet because I can’t stand the view and smell. Do please flush and use toiletries properly.

  12. The Colossal Carry-On. This person can’t seem to figure out, or respect the fact that there are carry-on size limits. This person brings a carry-on and a personal item that is bigger than the suitcase you checked into cargo and insists that it is able to fit in the overhead. When asked politely by flight staff that their “carry-on” be stored underneath they will refuse and insist on moving all of your things and try using some black magic to shrink their hopelessly huge luggage in hopes of just being able to get the compartment shut.

    1. I volunteer to gate check my carry on a lot! I have my personal bag with me, and in my experience grabbing my gate checked bag still saves me a ton of time over waiting in the luggage claim area.

  13. Little Kickers and the mom who doesn’t care. Once on an overnight flight to Europe, a small child sat in the seat behind me and KICKED the back of my seat, very annoying. Even more annoying was when I looked back and his mother saw what he was doing, looked up at me with a sheepish grin and went back to diddling on her phone. UGH!!!!! After two hours of steady, constant kicks, I finally asked the flight attendant if I could possible move to another seat because the mother apparently was too inconsiderate to make her child stop. Yes, I said it loud enough for her to hear it too. The flight attendant obviously understood my problem and graciously moved me to another seat.

  14. Ok, I’ll admit it! I’ve been guilty of being a “gate zombie.” But it’s only because everyone else is one, too. I just want to make sure I get a little space in the overhead bin for my belongings! But the thing that has always bothered me is the leg-room hogger. This is the person, usually a man, who splays his legs wide open so that they are taking up part of my space. And, what makes it even worse is that sometimes the person is touching my leg with his leg making for a very uncomfortable situation, in more ways than one!

  15. They pretend to be asleep in front of the window you selected to view your anniversary destination … too worn out and needy to invite being wakened to move to their assigned seat

  16. I’m gearing up for a trip to Budapest, and looking forward to every aspect except the flight. Your article reminds me to just keep my sense of humor handy at all times!

  17. While I agree with all the “reclining chair” comments, it really should be noted that the airlines are to blame for this situation. When they reconfigured the plane seating to add more rows it made the reclining seats a nightmare for everyone. They also do not keep up on repairs and many seats, through age or defect, recline WAY beyond what was originally intended. This is just one more way the airlines try to pit passenger against passenger instead of laying the blame where it belongs – with the airlines!

    1. Thank you, Ann Mac. Airlines are fully to blame for all onboard space issues (including overhead bin sizes). They drop routes and cut way back on service, which means practically every flight is full these days. They cram more and more smaller, less cushiony, closer-together seats into coach, ignoring the fact that much of the population is larger and taller than a few decades ago, which makes everyone feel trapped, like a sardine.

      I also want to mention something most people never consider: there are a lot of medical conditions, like back issues, that make reclining the seat necessary to avoid being in horrible pain through the whole flight, so please think about that before going off on them for being an inconsiderate jerk.

    2. I agree. I have a plate in my spine that makes not reclining very painful. Sorry, but the seats recline because that’s less uncomfortable. If you’re going to sit upright, that’s your call, but don’t blame me for using an “amenity” I’v paid for and need if I’m not going to limp off the plane.

      1. Gina, you are correct. I WILL recline if I damn well feel like it. Those of you who do not like it, can damn well stay home. I paid a fortune for this flight, and I will recline!!!!!!

  18. The seats are shaped like the letter C. For someone my height, my head hits just at the plump part at the top of the seat back. If I want to actually be able to walk off the plane and not be crippled, I have to recline. Airlines need to make seats that can work for short people as well as taller folks and give us enough room so we can be comfortable.

  19. The Poker Game Addict who has to shuffle the deck of cards as loudly as possible, and often, for hours.

    The Tray Table Dumper who lets the table fall down every time they need it, instead of guiding it down.

    The Two Seat Grabber who cannot get up from their seat without holding on to their seat and the seat in front of them, thus shaking the seat vigorously or even grabbing on to your hair.

    The Need A Bath traveller who infuses the cabin with either their natural or artificial powerful perfume or their shirt that needs to be laundered.

    The Oversized traveller who really needs to book two seats instead of overtaking their neighbors’ space; it can get claustrophobic.

    The Knee Spreader who extends their legs into your leg room so you have to place your legs sideways and get a back cramp, unless you want to rub legs with your new friend.

    The Critic (who is most likely also the Gate Zombie) who will size you up and down as you enter the aircraft waiting for others to move into their seats.

    The Gum Popper who are so nervous or oblivious that they chew and pop their gum in close vicinity to your ear.

  20. I just now thought of one! The small kid who kicks the back of your seat, right in the middle of your back, all right in front of the parents!

  21. I was on a flight where an annoying woman was leading a group-sing for about 20 middle schoolers. Who wants to hear that? Not me. And she was LOUD.

  22. The ones that use the bulkhead as their own personal foot rest. They plant their dirty shoes on the bulkhead, usually right on top of the magazine pouch. They would not think of putting their feet on an office wall and they don’t realize an airplane is the crew’s office.

  23. You forgot one. Ms. Perfect traveler who criticizes everyone else for not being as perfect as they.

    What an insulting article! Do you actually think it’s acceptable to say such things about those who don’t travel as often as people like we do?

    Sadly, you just lost a fan.

  24. The ones who constantly climb on their seats to get to their belongings at the overhead bin…then holler to someone a few seats or rows away! I promided myself never to take that airline again. The noisiest 14 hours trip!

  25. As a frequent flying mother across the Atlantic, I know it actually IS possible to control your child and keep them from kicking the seat. 🙂 What I find frustrating is the glares I get from people who look at my child and think she is going to be a problem. I always book an aisle seat and center so she is disturbing me if she has to go to the bathroom. Last year on a hopper flight (3 hrs) I couldn’t do this. Window and center. The woman on the aisle leaned across to her husband and made a comment like “She better not be making me get up every 5 minutes or I’ll tell that mother off.” We actually never got up. The woman did, numerous times. Know that we mommies are way more worried about our children disturbing others than you are that they are going to disturb you.

  26. Having flown about 3MM miles over my career, the strangest of them all for me were:
    a. Lady next to me with a baby places baby’s head on my arm while I snooze a bit, then pulls out one of the “girls” and feeds the baby. Imagine my surprise.
    b. Sitting in bulkhead, lady next to me with skirt on, places bare feet on bulkhead and then starts applying lotion to the full length of her legs. Very uncomfortable.

  27. What about the B.O. traveler? I had one recently I could smell before he even sat down thank God it was a short flight!

  28. 1) on the backpacks hitting you every time the wearer turns-I agree. THis is also a huge problem with women and their purses. They seem to forget or just dont care that the purse on their shoulder adds to their space and they constanly hit me and others with this extra appendage when they turn or walk by. Be aware of your purses ladies.
    2) On the drunks that board. There is actully an FAA regulation that forbids airlines from allowing obviously inebriated persons to board and fly on a commercial flight. If they allow this, the airline is breaking the law.

  29. I barely recline my seat, just enough to keep my weak back from catching. I just feel if I can keep from it, I will out of consideration for others. BUT in the last few instances I’ve flown, there has been a passenger in front of me that reclines their seat all the way back so I can’t even put down my tray for reading my book. THEN they pull up their long hair and flop it over the back of the seat, allowing hairs to drop on my lap, lunch, whatever. If you have long hair, be considerate of those behind you when you flop it over the seat.

    I don’t find this article insulting. It’s just a gentle reminder we are all cooped up in a small area and we need to be mindful of others. Sadly, in this day and age, articles such as this need to be published as some people forget their manners and consideration of others. Is it uncomfortable? Yes, but a necessity. I appreciate all the comments and will remember some of them when I fly next time.

  30. I’m constantly surprised/annoyed by people who when in a crowded small space such an airplane (also any function with people being put into
    close proximity with one another) choose to wear very strong perfumes/body sprays/cologne. This happens to me constantly with both men and women and I have had it happen multiple times on flights. We don’t care about your signature scent when we have to sit RIGHT within 2 inches of you for multiple hours. Especially when we are prone to migraines 🙁 . The cabin pressure is enough to kick me off into migraine territory without your cloud of smell engulfing me to help it along. Take a shower, put on clean clothing, use deodorant and leave it at that. We will all appreciate your CLEAN smell.

  31. The Seat Back grabber – folks who grab the seat back in front of them and use it as leverage to get in/out of their seats. When they “release” the seat back the person in that seat is treated to a slingshot ride. I get that some folks have mobility issues, so if you MUST use the seat back as leverage, please release it gently. For everyone else, the seat back in front of you is NOT a handle.

    Needs a bath – this is the worst, worst, thing. If you are traveling, please bathe AND wash your hair. Please don’t subject everyone around you to your personal funk.

    Loud Talkers – this is usually women on the plane that “get to chatting” and boom everyone within two rows gets to be part of the conversation.

    Sad Sack Lunchers – bringing a sandwich or food on the plane is a necessity these days, but do you REALLY need those raw onions? Or the garlic bagel? Really?

    Knee jostler – we all know folks that jostle their knees – we work with them or live with them. But on a plane? For two hours straight?

    Gate Zombies/Team Drill – I am guilty of these infractions however, I do try to be respectful, am very careful with my bags and stay off to the side at the boarding area so others can pass.

  32. I know I’ll get hate mail on this but here goes. Anyone that travels with a pet that isn’t a seeing eye dog. And here’s a newsflash, for everyone one person that oohs and ahhs over your pet, there are 10 people wishing you and Fifi drove instead of flew. Another news flash, there’s a new things called kennels, give one a try.

  33. RE Armrests: I read the “rules” for this in an etiquette column. The person in the aisle seat gets the armrest by the aisle. The person by the window gets the one by the window. The person in the middle gets both the middle armrests. Well, I guess someone has to get the extra one. And it seems a small compensation for being squeezed in the middle, so it seems fair to me. Don’t know, though, who gets two armrests if you are on a plane with two seats per row instead of three. Although, I think those usually do have two armrests in the middle.

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Don’t Be One Of These 11 Annoying Travelers
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