June 2, 2023

  • In my ten years as a flight attendant, I have seen countless mistakes made by airline passengers.
  • Flat floors are usually dirtier than they look, so I don’t recommend walking around barefoot.
  • Bulkhead seats may have more legroom, but they also increase your chances of sitting near your baby.

After 10 years as a flight attendant on commercial and private jets, I have witnessed all kinds of behavior by passengers. At this point, I don’t see much.

These are the most important things I advise travelers not to do while in the air.

The floor can be dirtier than it looks, so you shouldn’t be walking around barefoot

aircraft interior

Passengers should always wear shoes, even on long flights.


The number of passengers walking up and down an airplane aisle with bare feet never fails to amaze me. Some people entered the bathroom without even wearing socks or shoes.

But if the plane encounters turbulence while you’re in a small restroom, it can create a mess you might not want to step into, especially when you’re barefoot.

There are plenty of other ways to keep yourself comfortable on long flights, like putting hotel slippers in your carry-on luggage.

Not only are they lightweight and easy to put on and take off, but you can throw them away at the end of your flight to avoid bringing plane germs home.

Being rude to the crew won’t get you very far

Air travel can be stressful and exhausting, but taking your frustrations out on people trying to make travel easier and safer isn’t the right solution. Unfortunately, almost every flight attendant I’ve encountered has had a passenger speak to them in a rude or aggressive tone.

You want the crew on your side. After all, they will feed you and treat you in an emergency.

Remember, flight attendants can be awake twice as long as you. Some may have worked another flight or two that day. Kindness goes a long way.

Think twice before leaving items in seat pockets

aircraft seat back

Do not store food in seat pockets.


The next time you put a sandwich in your seat pocket for easy access during a flight, don’t do it.

The planes are cleaned every time they land in a new place, but there is often not enough time between flights to thoroughly sanitize the inside of each seat pocket. On many planes I’ve worked on, that compartment is usually not cleaned until the plane returns to base for a deep cleaning.

It goes without saying that passengers shouldn’t use seat pockets to store things they don’t want the crew to fish out, but I still encountered countless dirty diapers and underwear in the carriage. So think twice before storing any food there.

Even if you’re a frequent flyer, don’t ignore flight attendant safety instructions

Frequent flyers may have heard flight attendant safety demonstrations hundreds of times. The repetition can be annoying, but the crew is just doing their job and trying to keep passengers safe.

There are important reasons why flight attendants ask passengers to fasten their seat belts or find emergency exits. They usually don’t detail or worst-case scenarios to avoid causing panic.

Also, not all aircraft have the same exit locations and operations, so passengers should listen to specific instructions each time they board.

A bulkhead seat may have more legroom, but it also increases your odds of getting close to a crying baby

Seats next to the dividers, built-in dividers between sections, seem like a win. They tend to have some extra legroom and sometimes there’s no one behind you. Benefits aside, you should weigh your options before reserving these seats.

The frontmost partition in a row is usually where the bassinet is placed, making it a hot spot for crying babies.

The rear bulkhead is appealing because no one pushes or kicks your chair from behind, but it can be an uncomfortable ride as you often can barely lean back.

Bulkhead Seats on an Airplane

Flyers should consider the advantages and disadvantages of bulkhead seating before booking.


Pace yourself with alcoholic beverages – you’ll feel the effects faster in the air

low humidity on an airplane can cause dehydration and low cabin pressure can cause lower blood oxygen levels, so people tend to feel the effects of alcohol more quickly on a plane. Many times, they don’t realize how intoxicated they are until it’s too late.

Heavy drinking has played a role in many of the in-flight medical mishaps I’ve seen, especially when passengers mix alcohol with drugs.

I’ve also witnessed travelers drink so much and behave so aggressively that they have to be restrained, arrested and banned by airlines.

I’m not saying passengers of legal drinking age shouldn’t drink beer, but they should pace themselves and hydrate with plenty of water. That way, they’ll feel better when they land.

Also, it’s illegal to drink your own alcohol on a plane, so never open that bottle of gin you bought at the duty-free store.

If you haven’t taken sleeping pills before, don’t try it for the first time on a plane

I understand the desire to rest on a long flight, but it’s not a good idea to try sleeping pills in the air for the first time, whether prescription or over-the-counter.

I’ve seen some passengers wash off the pills with a few glasses of wine, which has resulted in a serious medical emergency. I’ve also seen passengers wake up lethargic after taking sleep aids, which can be a problem if they need to get up and be alert in an emergency.

Whatever you do, talk to your doctor before taking sleeping pills on an airplane.

I recommend sticking to bottled water

Stewardess serving bottled water on plane

Drink bottled water during the flight, just be extra careful.


Staying hydrated during the flight is essential, but I recommend avoiding unbottled water on the plane.

In recent years, research and various studies have a question Regarding the quality of tap water on planes, found it possible Varies by airline. Many flight attendants are like me, stick to bottled water and recommend doing so.

It’s fine after drinking plain water. However, I used to drink straight from the tap and was familiar with airplane toilets.

My advice is to be on the safe side and drink water from an airtight container, which is usually available on planes and provided to passengers anyway.

Disregarding other people’s personal space is a surefire way to anger other fliers

From the moment you step on the plane, you should be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of the space of others.

There’s nothing worse than having the person in front of you recline in your seat. No one wants to put your toes on their armrests, even though you might want to stretch.

Also, think twice before you start painting your nails or opening an at-home egg sandwich. The air conditioning system reeks of the whole plane.

The call button should be reserved for emergencies, so don’t press it unless you have one

Call button on pane ceiling

Passengers should only press the call button in an emergency.


In my days as a flight attendant, passengers using the call button to make small requests were my biggest annoyance.

This button is there to get the attention of the crew, who are happy to help all passengers. However, you should not press it during meal service because you want the flight attendant to retrieve your bag from the overhead compartment.

Using it for non-emergency matters may divert the crew’s attention from passengers who have a medical emergency and need urgent care.

If you do need immediate help or attention, I recommend pressing the button multiple times.

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