Airplane Etiquette 101: Keep Your Shirt On At All Times

I was flying from New York to Miami a couple of days ago and had an interesting seatmate. To start, he had a rather unique “fashion sense,” but that describes 90% of the people traveling between New York and Miami…

As boarding finished up he started a conversation in Spanish with someone four rows away, for all to hear.

Then after takeoff the flight attendant came around with the drink cart:

FA: “What would you like to drink?”
Passenger: “What ya got?”
FA: “We have juice, coffee, water, cocktails, etc.”
Passenger: “I’ll take whatever ya got.”
FA: “Well, which of those would you like? We have juice, coffee, water…”
Passenger: “Yes.”
FA: “Yes to which to one?”
Passenger: “Something to drink.”

Since she noticed he was speaking Spanish earlier in the flight and he had an accent, she assumed he maybe wasn’t understanding her, so she said:

FA: “Agua, cafe, jugo?”
Passenger: “I speak English.”

Sadly it was the same game when it came to ordering breakfast.

FA: “For breakfast did you want the eggs or cereal?”
Passenger: “What?”
FA: “Eggs or cereal?”
Passenger: “Yes.”

But the real fun came after the breakfast service when he decided to nap. I don’t know whether he just bought the wrong size button down or if he took the captain’s announcement to “make yourselves as comfortable as possible” a little bit too literally, but…


The best part was that the flight attendant walked by, noticed it, and looked mortified. The guy was sound asleep, so the flight attendant leans over to me and says “I’m so sorry.”

The flight attendant then grabs a blanket and places it over the guy’s stomach. The guy wakes up while he’s doing it, says “oh, thank you so much,” and proceeds to take the blanket off his stomach, bunch it up, and put it behind his head as a pillow. Oy! I don’t know whether he didn’t realize that he might as well have been shirtless, or if he thought he was just being sexy, or what…

Then 15 minutes later the flight attendant did the same thing again, except this time the passenger stayed asleep. 10 minutes later he went to use the lavatory, and when he returned he was back to struttin’ his stuff.

I’ve witnessed a lot of bad airplane etiquette in my years of flying, though this was among the worst.

What’s the worst etiquette you’ve witnessed by a fellow passenger?

Filed Under: Travel
  1. only the guys with a 6-pack should be allowed to take their shirt off… on just on a plane… but everywhere!
    they should actually be required by law to do so for the enjoyment of the rest of us as often as possible.

  2. United LHR-LAX flight week ago in F, aisle passenger changed clothes to sleepwear at seat. Glad he kept his underwear on.

  3. Can we add perfume and cologne to the list of etiquette? That is NOT wearing fragrance it and forcing those around you to endure it? (not trying to be mean at all, but a lot of people, besides not liking the scent, get headaches and asthma attacks from it, so it would be nice to be considerate of those that may not appreciate the smell and chemical exposure).

  4. Last summer I flew first class from Toronto to Chicago. Everyone in the first row planted the soles of their shoes firmly on the carpeted wall in front of them. Classy.

  5. The picture really makes the post.

    The weirdest thing I’ve heard or seen on a plane was actually a sweet-looking older lady flight attendant. After being asked a normal question by another passenger, she turned to me and said “I wish I had a taser for all of them.” Super weird, but not as interesting as this guy.

  6. If a woman can whip out a boob right next to me to feed her baby then I guess is stomach isn’t a whole lot worse huh? I think both should be a no no.

  7. @ Steven, or others bothered by feet up–

    Honest (perhaps ignorant) question: What’s wrong with putting feet up on the bulkhead, assuming the offender isn’t making the surface look dirty afterwards?

    It’s not directly disturbing anyone, like feet or knees pushing on a movable seatback, or smells or sounds. It’s not a surface anyone has a reason to come in contact with for another purpose, like a seat cushion or armrest (and think about the carpet next time you put a personal item under the seat in front of you). It’s not classy, but it’s not like being half naked without a six-pack either.

    Thanks in advance for sharing your perspective.

  8. That is sad…..our era of virtual living has made it too easy to lose our manners……..we’re all guilty in some way or another and I am glad you posted this for us to ponder……..I would say perhaps it is a response to MH370 and thinking about what is really important in life……….some things we can’t control but we can control our civility to each other…….

  9. I once sat I’m first class next to a man who’s body overflowed into my seat
    He too off his shoes and his feet emitted a miasmic stench of rotten Parmesan cheese
    He fell asleep and proceeded to start snorkeling like a blubber walrus
    I got the FA’s attention and immediate commiseration
    She tried to awaken him on the ruse of asking for his food order
    He mumbled and went back to sleep for the duration of the JFk. Lax flt.
    The FA said there was not a single open seat to move to. So I turned my back away from him and turned up my headphone volume

  10. Susan Lucci’s agent at WME once tried to punch in the face because he said Wayne Player (Gary’s son) and I were yucking it up too loudly on a flight to LAX. He swung, missed and then yelled an anti-jew slur. The captain got involved and took our side, cut him off, and issued him a level 1 warning.


  11. Forgot to mention, make sure you read through the “Recent post by others on Passenger Shaming. There is a picture of a guy that actually took his entire shirt off!

  12. ^^^

    Didn’t JRL post a picture to instagram of a lady attempting to unbutton the pants of a guy in a very suggestive manner?

  13. You should fly more with Cattle Class.. You’ll witness these things more often.

    For me, the most terrible things passengers do: parents who change their kids diaper just in the seat (tray table), and then keep it there till they’ll go to the bathroom themselves.

  14. All I keep hearing is Right Said Fred “I’m too sexy for my shirt… so sexy it hurts…”

  15. @Paul- I must have missed the part where this gentleman fed a hungry baby with his bare stomach. Believe me, no nursing mother wants you staring at her boobs….she just wants to feed her child so you won’t complain when the baby cries.

  16. Wow. That guy has some serious passive-aggression issues, and he was trolling that flight attendant something fierce. I’m glad that she didn’t lose it on him.

    I’m always amused by those who get bent out of shape by women breast feeding on planes. It’s human, it’s life and all that, and it’s legal.

    Delta got into a bit of a Twitter pickle over this subject recently:

  17. @Dima NO! That’s why we are on this blog so we’ll NEVER have to ride in cattle class and see these horrors…….

  18. @JRL what was really needed was to get get a full frontal shot of their faces so they could be immortalized on the web and all their co-workers, friends and relatives could recognize them

  19. Tie between the guy who blew his nose and put the kleenex on the middle section between us in first class and the guy who flossed his teeth after dinner and then put it on MY tray in business. No, flosser guy wins.

  20. I’d like to think this is a medical condition but I fear not …

    pigs are pigs … this guy belongs in a trough – if you spilled something on him he’d probably not notice …

    I’m not suggesting a course of action here …. but things do spill … especially in turbulence …

  21. 2010, NRT-ORD, UA 747 in first, with a screaming drunk passenger calling out for oral sex. I had seen him drinking copious amounts of bourbon in the United first lounge at Narita (note to airlines: self-serve booze is a really bad idea) and was filled with dread when I saw him board the flight. I mentioned to one of the FAs that I had seen him drink himself silly in the lounge, but she said there was little they could do. It was all downhill from there. Periodic drunken screaming (sometimes as he would wake up from sleep/being passed out.) Soliciting female FAs and passengers for oral sex. Throwing food. The captain came down at one point to chat with the FAs, as he was considering putting down in Anchorage to get ride of the offending passenger, but there seemed to be some unexplained reticence. Perhaps it was the fact that he and his work colleague were both Global Services. (I saw the passenger list.) Much as I might have hoped for a greeting by the Chicago police department at ORD, there was no such thing. Instead, there was a greeter who welcomed him to Chicago (and it was not a ruse). This added significant insult to injury, as UA screwed up my award booking. I was supposed to be in first on Asiana.

  22. A guy on a CX flight HKG-SYD in business class took off his pants at his seat showing his boxer briefs. Sat there in them eating and watching tv then slept in them the whole flight (no blanket)even going to the toilet. Did not put his pants back on until landing!

  23. years ago, the grossest seatmate was on my AA flight to LAX, he boarded in DFW and proceeded to chew & spit tobacco the entire flight into his pepsi cup. and he tried to talk to me the whole flight in between spitting of course –

  24. i don’t get down with fat shaming, but maybe he was just hot. I know big guys produce a lot of heat. It also would have been tactful to actually dialogue with the man and tell him why it’s impolite to expose his stomach. Some people weren’t raised right. Also, if the guy doesn’t make a choice, then move on or give him one of each – why waste your time.

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