How To Deal With People Not Using Headphones On Airplanes And In Lounges…

Filed Under: Advice, Travel

Perhaps this is more of a “big picture” life question than something specific to airports and airplanes. However, with the summer travel season in full swing, I feel like I’ve been noticing this more than ever before, and I can’t decide if it’s my place to do something or not.

People not using headphones properly…

For some reason, a surprising number of people think it’s appropriate to do various activities without headphones in public — this includes FaceTime conversations, playing video games, watching TV shows, etc.

Frankly I don’t get it. At all. I don’t expect the whole world to be like Japan, but how is it that people think this is appropriate? It’s bad enough to do this in public or in a terminal, but it’s even worse to do it on a plane (which is a confined space where you can’t leave) or an airport lounge (which is supposed to be a place to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of the airport).

A couple of examples from the past 24 hours

Just to give a couple of examples that I’ve witnessed in the past day…

I was on a flight where a young kid was playing a “shooting” video game without headphones for over 15 minutes with volume up and no headphones. It literally sounded like 15 minutes of gunfire.

Logically I might have said something, but:

  • His dad seemed pretty “macho,” and I didn’t want to set him off
  • They were seated in row one, right across from the flight attendant, and she said nothing
  • There were five deadheading pilots and flight attendants seated around them, so I figured they would have said something

Then I was in what’s otherwise a very nice lounge with a relaxing ambiance, and an older gentleman seated across from me proceeded to watch several Trump speeches without headphones, and then had political conversations on FaceTime without headphones on. His argument was “the problem isn’t guns, it’s video games.” Ironically I wish he had been on the flight with the kid playing the shooting video game, so he could have told him to stop.

In fairness, in the second case I should have probably just gotten up and sat somewhere else. But I was also oddly intrigued by his FaceTime debate, for all the wrong reasons.

How do you handle these situations?

I’m curious how you guys feel about this. Am I off base for finding this terribly inappropriate, or am I in the minority and need to get over myself?

If you’re as annoyed by this stuff as I am, what’s the correct way to deal with it? I’m a much more passive person than I used to be. I avoid conflicts at almost any cost, because I’m just damn tired and don’t think they’re worth it. But I also hate myself for not saying anything, if that makes sense.

So what’s the correct thing to do ?

  • Not say anything, and just deal with it? That’s what I’ve been doing, but I’m also irked, so…
  • Say something directly to the person? This would be the most satisfying, but is also most likely to lead to a confrontation.
  • Bring it to the attention of the flight attendant and airport staff? I hate putting them in an uncomfortable situation, and in the case of the flight with the flight attendant seated across from the kid, I would have felt even more awkward about it since she didn’t do anything about it.
  • Buy headphones in bulk, and passive aggressively hand them out as needed? This actually seems sorta fun and productive. 😉

  1. The pacing around the SkyClub on Facetime drives me crazy and I’m sure the person on the other end is getting motion sickness just talking to these people. I’ll never understand…

  2. You’re right. It’s not really your place to say something even if it annoys you. At least that’s what I think…

  3. This is an incredibly common occurrence these days and it really annoys me. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who complains after a few seconds, but as the minutes go on, I get increasingly angry that this person doesn’t have any respect for my or other passenger’s ears.

    I will then politely ask for headphones to be used.

  4. On the plane you should ask them to stop. You’ll have the whole plane on your side. The lounge is not a library, however. You can leave whenever you want.

  5. Be loud and obnoxious like they are for a couple minutes !! Most are so ignorant they think they are the only ones in the room .

  6. I first start off with a look. If they don’t react, I then do the head phone motion with my hands. If they still don’t react, I ask them if they realize the volume is on. Most of the time, by this point they’ll have stopped without confrontation other than occasional eye roll. If they still persist, I ask a flight attendant to help. I’d say it’s happened at least once a month over the last few years.

  7. This is one of my travel pet peeves as well. It’s usually older people in lounges watching videos who, for whatever reason, refuse to wear headphones. It’s exceptionally rude. No one wants to hear your granddaughter’s 3rd grade concert!

  8. On airplanes, grab a flight attendant. In the lounge, you are out of luck – go to another area

  9. I find myself in the same situation quite often. And for some reason, in my country most of those people refusing to wear headphones are always men (and that increases the odds of an awful confrontation).

    I’d never buy headphones in bulk. For me that’s the equivalent of rewarding people for their bad behavior.

  10. Alas, I am non-confrontational and an introvert, so I’m always a “not say anything” kind of person. That doesn’t mean I agree with @Daniel Darian though and think its not my place to say something, just that I find it psychologically very difficult to call people out and confront them. Unfortunately, I don’t genuinely think there’s a polite way to tell someone to not do something. No matter how nicely you phrase it, their gut reaction most likely is that you don’t have the right to tell them what to do.

    As a side story. I was on a commuter train in the UK once. I got a call from a friend living in Asia who I hadn’t spoken to in a long while, so I took the call. I tried to speak quietly on what was mostly an empty train car, but I also wasn’t going to defer this call considering the time difference and the long-distance nature of the call. Well, evidently my speaking tone was still not quiet enough because an older man came over to me and said to my face “Why don’t you just shut up!”. I looked at him for a bit, didn’t respond and continued my conversation.

  11. I think contacting staff is appropriate. Ideally, you wouldn’t need to because (1) people would police themselves and be courteous (2) staff would be proactive. But saying something makes sense to me if it is a problem: you’re paying for the space and the experience and people acting inappropriately are actively diminishing the experience for you and the rest of the paying customers. It’s a common area and there are appropriate ways to act and misbehaving is taking from others. It’s the staff’s job to curate the space to maximize the enjoyment for all of the customers.

  12. #Onemileatatime promotional-branded earbuds.

    ‘Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.’ Machiavelli.

    Avoid the confrontation as you don’t know or can control other people’s actions. Otherwise, just loud enough to bring attention of others in the area, in a polite tone but pointed, ‘excuse me, I just wanted to let you know you are in a public space/[insert venue].’

  13. Great article Ben and one that’s so timely arrived, for I recently had a similar situation in which the person ‘enjoying’ a video at an airport lounge was doing it loud enough for everyone to hear.

    I think one must always speak up, politely but firmly, for if not the transgressions regrettably doesn’t get called and timely resolved.

    I would simply approach the perpetrator or his/her representative in a low voice, and request if he/she can lower the volume of the device at hand, as I explain that I’m unable to otherwise concentrate on what I’m doing due to the loud sound. If dealing with a reasonable person, this should suffice. If not, I would take it up with whom ever is in charge of said venue and politely make my request to action!

  14. The problem on the plane is a situation that I would have taken on with a comment to the Father. In a surprisingly high number of these instances, the parents are just immune to the noise and will gladly oblige. If the father ended up being an obnoxious jerk, I’d just turn the matter over to the FA. And if the FA decided to ignore it, I’d fire off a complaint later to the airline.

    The lounges today, sadly more resemble more a bus terminal than a business silent working environment. In the case of the Trump guy, I would have just moved. People who loudly engage in political discussions in public venues, no matter what their political persuasion, are just looking for confrontation. I spent some time last week in a Flagship First lounge and it was really a huge step up from the carnival atmosphere of the Admirals Club, especially in the summer with large numbers of families with young children running everywhere.

  15. Oh so irritating!

    And what to do about people who are skiing with actual speakers in backpacks rather than ear buds or helmet speakers, blasting their (usually terrible) music all over the mountain. It is noise pollution.! Inconsiderate to the max. Suggestions?

  16. tl;dr: I’d ask staff, and only intervene if it’s really bad.

    Approaching a person just *anywhere* and asking them to change their behavior is not really OK – we all have quirks, and are sometimes ignorant or aloof, and don’t notice how we bother others.
    However in the spaces such as airplanes or lounges there are certainly rules, and checking with staff seems fair. Lounges generally have R&R for dress code, etiquette etc.

  17. On a plane, I would either ask them to stop directly or alert a flight attendant – though I notice FAs (especially on Southwest) are getting more proactive about nipping that in the (ear)bud. In the lounge, I would have no qualms about discreetly asking the lounge reception staff to intervene. AmEx Centurion Lounge personnel are usually on top of that without my having to say anything.

  18. Many times, I’ve been the person telling the offender to put on headphones or turn down the volume on the plane. In lounges, Facetime conversations and watching videos with audio blasting is annoying, but I have the option of moving somewhere else. I don’t usually intervene in that case.

    But once in flight, I have nowhere to go, so I don’t hesitate to raise the concern sooner rather than later, usually in good humor rather than being accusatory. I’ve never had someone refuse to cooperate yet. Though there are crazy pax everywhere – I’ve certainly run into my share but not over a request to turn down/off sound.

    A couple weeks ago on AA PHX-LHR, the flight attendant told a child to turn off his tablet sound almost immediately after he started playing a game (mother beside him was oblivious). I was relieved not to have to pick on a kid – and wish this was done more consistently.

  19. Look them dead in the eye, tell them the video is loud and hand them your headphones to borrow to watch the video. Just be direct. Or sit next to them and start watching the news on full blast. I’ve done this several times to people on Facetime calls, because baby-boomers….

  20. @Lucky I feel EXACTLY the same as you!

    I’m shocked at the level of ‘selfishness’ and extreme rudeness many display. Surely they must know it’s off putting, but could care less.

    Saying something could end up in a situation you’d rather not have. I would inquire with the FA, as the noise is disturbing.

    Recently I was seated in front of a couple from (Canada) who demanded that the teenager next to me not recline his seat; because it was interfering with their ‘leg room’; they were quite tall.

    I mentioned in a polite demeanor that the teen has as much right to recline as anyone else. (who are they to demand such nonsensical requests). His family paid for his seat, as they paid for theirs.

    The flight was over 14 hrs long. The so called confrontation lasted several hours, to which the guy directly behind me started forcibly shoving his legs into my seat (form of retaliation and attempted intimidation).

    I ignored him, which proved to be more upsetting to his ego. He proceeded to stand up next to my seat and stare me down. At that point I continued to ignore him, I was extremely sick and had little energy to go up against him (which I would have done, had I been feeling well).

    He eventually gave in (as a toddler with a tantrum would do, they give up after not getting their way) and did his own thing the remainder of the flight.

    Point being, it’s not worth the irritation and juvenile behaviour many self centered individuals display.

    I’d keep your ear buds in so you don’t have to hear others. Is that fair? No, but it’s a lot less hassle than the alternative, which could escalate quickly and further ruin your trip.

    Also Japan has the incredible culture they do because they haven’t allowed illegal immigration to ruin their culture. As you know it’s incredibly well structured and proves how they are able to maintain a society that works.

    Sadly the USA has been flooded with illegal immigration and the politicians want open borders for their own benefit (lining their wallets). I’ll leave it at that.

    I look forward to hearing if you’ve come up with a solution that works! Thanks for sharing, you’re not alone!

  21. BEST Method: I have a friend who was so upset about this while we were resting in the Air Canada Mapple Lounge in Frankfurt. Gues what I did: we went close to the guy and silently FARTED one of those nasty smelly farts you get after eating burritos. It was so hilarious the guy stopped everything and spent the next 10 minutes checking if that was coming from the sofa his fat ass was sitting on.

  22. @Justin
    The guy who told you to shut up was entirely correct. He (and everyone else) could give a damn about your long lost friend and doesn’t want to hear your conversation. He should have grabbed your phone and thrown it out the window. What a self-entitled little prick you are.

  23. Spot on, Lucky, and I’ve been noticing this increase over time as well.

    It seems like it’s part of a growing trend in society where people just do whatever they feel like without regard to how it affects others around them. (I also, for example, see people on running trails in otherwise bucolic/natural environments who blare music on their phones as they walk.)

    The attitude seems to be: “Oh, you’re annoyed? Not my problem. That’s why they invented noise-canceling headphones.” True of some other plane situations that I won’t mention because doing so would stir up a different kind of hornet’s nest… 😉

  24. Reminds me of a story I read in an airline magazine: one guy was in the airline lounge, having loud conversations on his phone. When he left a message he mentioned to return his call at . Another man overheard the guy giving his phone number and wrote it down. Later, in the middle of the night the man called the loud mouth guy asking how he enjoyed his time in the lounge.

  25. Agree, I hate this trend! Seeing it more and more… I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to do these things without headphones! I don’t want to hear your noise!

    I haven’t been able to make myself say anything, but I’ve come close to bringing some sets of cheap earbuds to hand out.

  26. I found a rather creative approach at times sometimes work. I used these techniques with noisy neighbors. Consider the guy chatting politics loudly on facetime:

    Make him want to drop the call, but make it his idea.

    How? Interrupt him and say you were eavesdropping and agree with everything he just said. Then spew off the most dumb, boring ideas like the stereotypical annoying “First time flying” passenger. Smile at what he says. He’ll feel that you’re intruding on his conversation and annoying his friend on the phone and drop it. Mission accomplished. He won’t want to be angry with you since you just agreed with his opinions and apparently mean well.

    The kid with the FPS video game? Go up and ask him what game it is and explain you used to be a programmer of that gaming series (ok, lie). Impress him. In any case, engage him in conversation. Then ask the FA next to him if you can get headphones because YOU want to play games/listen to music at your seat. It’s a subtle hint. He may even offer to loan him yours. Say he should probably keep them himself because you worry about disturbing other passengers.

    I read about this technique in “How to make friends and influence people” which largely about using indirect methods to motivate people to do something. I’ve found them useful on my 3 year old.

  27. Right, it’s super annoying but I don’t feel right to say something about it myself. By seeing many people using no headphones, it almost feels like that is what it supposed to be. So I just quietly use my earplugs + noise-cancelling headphone + relaxing music. Yes, I’m super noise sensitive… From the viewpoint as a Japanese (thank you for your recent kind comments about us!), we are having a bit of hard time to deal with different manners & standards brought from overseas, including the noise-in-public thing.

  28. If you think handing out earphones is gonna solve your problem, ya all haven’t seen the real world. I flew once on China Eastern from Shanghai to Beijing in A330 business class (they called it domestic first), and the jack ass sitting across from me was watching some K drama on his phone, speaker full volume (Didn’t even know phone can be that loud tbh). I flagged down a FA & quietly pointed out the “atrocity”. She went to the purser and the purser approached the jack ass with a headphone (those single use cheap ones). The jack ass turned it down and insisted he isn’t comfortable with using headphones and he prefers speaker…. I was like #$&@$…. I think the root cause is not headphones (or lack of), there’s just wayyyyy too many Jackass around us.

  29. I agree, it annoys me immensely too. But I’m not sure it’s always motivated by selfishness. Sometimes it’s just lack of awareness.

    For me the deciding factor is whether I have an out. In a plane, usually not, so I’m more likely to complain. In an airport terminal or outside, you can more easily move so I probably wouldn’t.

    I wish aircraft had quiet zones akin to Amtrak’s quiet car.

  30. When you figure out how to solve this problem, please let me know how to politely inform the person in the next stall over that the toilet is not the appropriate place for a phone call. Or a riveting NPR podcast.

  31. All symptomatic of a culture in which individual desire is prioritised above collective satisfaction. Why would we expect these morons to be sensitive to others when they’ve been conditioned by literally every aspect of our culture to believe they’re at the centre of the universe?

  32. I’ve been finding that hiking, of all things, is where people annoy me the most with their speakers.

    Hiking is, in part, about the peace and solitude of the great outdoors. But if you want music or other noise, fine! Headphones people.

  33. @AJ: F off Troll. There’s no rule against speaking quietly on the phone in a train car (this was not a designated quiet car), it was off-peak hours with maybe 2 other people in the entire car. This was a standard phone call, not face time so no one could hear the other person. I was deliberately speaking quietly, and certainly no louder than had I been speaking to a real person seated next to me. Say what you said to my face and way from the anonymity of the internet jerk.

  34. most of the time I have my earbuds in watching my own video stuff, so I don’t notice others not doing the same.

  35. This happens a lot anymore. On a plane I just put in my earphones and forget about whatever silliness is going on around me. Much worse, my wife and I were at the movies recently, and a teenage girl there with her brother and mother at the movie, proceeded to hold a long facetime type call during the movie, not seeming to be trying to stream the movie to the other person or anything like that, but literally incapable of not talking to another human when she deemed convenient. Not to mention the brightness of the screen out of the corner of your eye in a dark movie theater, very distracting. All around beyond rude. And what are you supposed to do when the parent is sitting right there and doesn’t care? So we gave her the stink eye periodically and eventually she ended the call.

  36. For me it’s mostly middle-aged Chinese women, who seem to think speakerphone conversations and shouting at each other is perfectly OK. But I have also seen the Very Important Businessman, and the Oblivious Kid.

    Do not put up with it.

    STARE at them! Rustle some papers, sit next to them and start your own conversation. Anything to remind them there are other people in the room.

  37. Her/him/them: “yakyakyakyakyakyakyakyakyakyakyakkkkyakyaaaaak…”
    You (yelling from other side of plane/lounge/gym/parking lot/lake): “WHAAAAT?”
    Her/him/them (pausing their noise): “Huh…?”
    You: “What was that? You talking to me?”
    Her/him/them (indignant): “hmmpff.. NO…!”
    You: “Oh…sorry….I thought you were talking to me. Yeah… All the way over here.”
    Her/him/them: “….”

  38. Funny(ish) story – I was once in a local kids bookstore buying something for a little friend of mine, and as I walked in I noticed a Kinks song playing, I think from VGPS, which I thought was so cool for a kids store to not pander and have inoffensive grown-up music. Next up, a Beatles song, so I thought they had a British thing going. Then an early-REM song came on, which I still thought was pretty cool but it struck me as not quite having the same vibe as Kinks-Beatles. But I just kept book shopping.

    Then a Pixies song came on – “Here Comes Your Man,” which has a really peppy sound but at this point I felt like the bookstore was maybe sort of pushing it. At this point, too, it occurred to me that every song I heard was one that I liked very much and that I in fact had on my Spotify so I took my phone out and sure enough, I had been walking around kids book land with my phone playing all these songs.

    So close to what, 15 minutes total and not a soul said to me, “Hey, do you mind?” – which struck me as odd… (FWIW, there was actually NO music playing in the store so I was the jukebox for that brief spell…)

  39. Thanks for making a post about this! I also have noticed a drastic increase in this behaviour in the last couple years. It’s definitely a new thing and I believe completely inappropriate. People are becoming more and more self centred and unaware of their surroundings.

    I’m also non-conformational so don’t know what the answer is. It seems like people are set off by the smallest criticism so it’s probably not worth risking someone losing it.

    I was recently on a commuter flight and someone watched a movie on an iPhone sans headphones- nobody said anything.

    It would be great if part of the flight attendant announcements included a brief be courteous statement. Seems obvious but propel need some re training!

    I seek out the quiet area of lounges and would definitely say something there.

    Looking forward to seeing other ideas on this!

  40. Craig says:
    August 7, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    All symptomatic of a culture in which individual desire is prioritised above collective satisfaction. Why would we expect these morons to be sensitive to others when they’ve been conditioned by literally every aspect of our culture to believe they’re at the centre of the universe?
    Sadly, Craig, I think you have it just about right.

  41. These people are self centered. I tell them they are being rude, put some fing earphonea on you self centered mfer. These people care only about themselves there is no reason you need to be nice about it.

  42. Happened to me last week. Leaned over and said, “I guess you forgot your ear buds.” Handed to her a spare Delta pair that I always carry.

  43. This is a thing that drives me absolutely crazy!
    I used to keep quiet (and fuming inside) about that sort of thing, but I got tired of it. Why should I? They don’t care about you or your comfort, so you can at least suggest they stop that.
    Nowadays, if I can’t change my spot or don’t feel like it, I just tell them to kindly use headphones or turn off the volume. It’s impressive, but it works almost 100% of the time. Sometimes they give me a stink eye or mumble something, but they have no arguments for this kind of behaviour. And after that I can chill in peace.

  44. I’ve interfered directly only once. In the otherwise very quiet breakfast room of an average four star hotel in Rome, a man sitting at the table next to me was watching YouTube videos with the sound on. I got up, took the two steps to his table and asked in a friendly tone: “Did you have your earphones with you?” That did the trick and he put his phone away.

    I mostly fly Finnair, and sometimes this is a problem in flight. Since I’m confined to my seat, with the same neighbours, for the entire flight, I don’t find it comfortable to interfere directly. What I’ve done perhaps twice is that I’ve walked up to the galley and asked the FA for help. When a Finnair Plat (OWE equivalent) makes such a request, they do interfere without hesitation. And hopefully, the guy in question doesn’t even understand that I was the one who complained.

  45. If someone does this on the tube (London Underground) you will never see so much hatred and anger directed at a person

  46. To add to my post above, in case it’s not completely clear, I was absolutely mortified when I realized that my music was playing out in the open like that and if anyone had said anything, I would have apologized profusely. What Lucky is describing is just steps away (above or below? I’m not sure) from driving down the street with music blaring at ear-shattering levels, being so arrogant as to force everyone around you to listen to what you’re listening to whether they like it or not.

  47. This is a problem not only in the travel world. I’ve had many a restaurant meal ruined by the parents of a young kid who think it’s perfectly fine for their precious spawn to watch cartoons or play video games at the table, at top volume, with zero consideration for other humans. Nice manners to teach your kid.

    Worse yet, I was at a FUNERAL recently where a horribly rude couple allowed their son to watch cartoons DURING THE SERVICE, with no headphones. (The kid was 8 or 9, old enough to be told “NO,” but apparently had never heard that word before.) I was absolutely appalled. I mean, is there a better time to teach your kids what’s appropriate and what’s not?!

    I went to lunch recently with a friend and her toddler. As soon as the kid was settled in his highchair, she handed him the tablet. No headphones. I asked her if he had headphones and she laughed and said, “Yeah, but he’d never wear them!”

    Haha? NO. If I’d refused to wear headphones as a child (if we’d had such technology then), my parents would have said, “If you don’t wear headphones, you don’t get to watch.” PERIOD. If a tantrum ensued, we would have left the restaurant and gone home.

    This mom, instead, found it perfectly fine to subject me and the diners around us to her kid’s unnecessary noise. I was hugely embarrassed and apologized to the people nearby. I told her I won’t eat out with her again unless her kid either wears headphones or stays home.

  48. Reply to David:

    “It would be great if part of the flight attendant announcements included a brief be courteous statement. Seems obvious but propel need some re training!”

    YES YES YES to this! Why can’t flight attendants add something like, “If you are going to listen to a movie or music, or play video games on your device, PLEASE be courteous to those around you and use headphones?”

    Can’t we petition the airlines to add this?

  49. For the FaceTime or speakerphone pacer in a lounge: “Would you please stand still, so you only annoy a few people instead of the entire lounge?”

  50. I had 2 recent experience in a restaurant. One incident was in a high end hotel restaurant and the person was doing Facetime with another person on speaker phone. The second incidence was someone in an airport restaurant sitting on a bar table having a loud conversation with her headphones on but yelling profanity every sentence and discussing an unpleasant conversation that doesn’t need to be share with others. In both occasions, I asked the waiter to help and the issue was resolved by telling the person to stop in the first situation and moving me to a quieter area in the second situation. I think people should be more conscientious to how their actions affect others but unfortunately, it seem like it is getting worse. I suggest in your situation to ask the flight attendant or lounge staff to intervene.

  51. You can’t really “deal” with a anything because there are no standards and people are totally self absorbed. Just take a look around the next time you’re in an airport . Do you really think anyone cares any more ???

  52. @Amper Sand I have to call you out on this racist bullshit – it Simplus isn’t true

    “Also Japan has the incredible culture they do because they haven’t allowed illegal immigration to ruin their culture. As you know it’s incredibly well structured and proves how they are able to maintain a society that works.

    Sadly the USA has been flooded with illegal immigration and the politicians want open borders for their own benefit (lining their wallets). I’ll leave it at that.“

    Japan has been systematically operating their own very formal programme of ‘illegal immigration for years’. Illegal because farms, companies etc. were allowed to abuse a training visa scheme to bring workers in the country for ‘training’ that infact turned out to be long term work. Japan is so desperate for workers that they formalised this system into a proper immigration system for low and medium skilled workers. Japan has a very low birth rate and would fall apart without immigrants coming in to do the jobs that Japanese are disinclined to do. Next time you are in japan, look at the name badges of the people serving you, as likely to be Vietnamese, Indonesian, Malaysian etc. as Japanese.

    I’ll leave you to draw your own comparisons with the US system.

  53. I usually politely say something, but it’s very ymmv. Some people don’t care and just keep keeping on, some stop, and some get confrontational.

    While at the AC Cape Town there was a family at breakfast with 3 kids, each with absurdly loud tablets. I didn’t want to cause a scene at the overcrowded restaurant, so I asked a staff member to talk to the family. The father got very indignant and loud with the staff member. He kept demanding who had asked the staff member to say something. So I did say it was me, because I felt bad about how the staff member was being treated (she had been polite and he was a complete jerk in response). The guy’s response to me wasn’t any better, but then a couple other people also chimed in saying the noise had bothered them, and the guy backed down. I was very happy not to bump into him again during my stay.

    I also always think of carrying around cheap headphones to “give” out but haven’t done that yet.

  54. @Mike & @Dave, how do people respond when you give them headphones? I am curious about how peoples’ responses, especially since they are already flouting norms by having their volume up.

  55. Satisfaction comes to the confrontational. Otherwise, you’ll have to suffer.

    It probably would be a good idea to save the cheap earphones they give out in domestic first to hand out to people.

  56. Passive aggressive response:
    Start singing to yourself. Sing the same song over and over. Even better if you sing off key. Then start singing a little louder but never yelling, because this could cause you to be kicked out of the airline club.

    How about Barney the dinosaur song?
    I love you, you love me We’re a happy family With a great big hug And a kiss from me to you Won’t you say you love me too?

  57. It’s troubling how many people in the comments here think this is okay. No civilized person would do this in a public place.

  58. It would be helpful if all lounges and planes broadcast, posted, and enforced detailed rules about expected etiquette. Since many people prefer to avoid confrontation, they should have the option to report it to the lounge staff or a flight attendant who is trained to address such situations. Some of this already exists, of course, but it could be improved significantly, and there should be consequences for violations.

    If you want to try the personal approach in a shared space like a lounge, when someone is disturbing you, wait a minute, approach them calmly, apologize for interrupting, and ask if they would mind reducing or stopping the behavior. The goal is to avoid confrontation unless necessary, set a tone of mutual respect, and make a request instead of a demand.

    It almost always works, and they even apologize sometimes. Thank them and say that you appreciate it. It can also help if you acknowledge something about their situation. For example: “I was trying not listen, but I couldn’t help hearing half of what sounded like an intense conversation. We’ve all been there.” Or something like: “That video game sounds pretty amazing, but maybe too much like we’re in an actual war zone.” And maybe try to genuinely smile!

    OK, that last part might be asking too much. I know it sometimes seems like a losing battle these days, and some people truly do not care how their behavior impacts others. They are probably unreachable, at least at that time. Most people, however, are worth a try. I understand that some of them might be tired, stressed, oblivious, not personally bothered by what bothers me, cultural variations, etc. When it does not work, at least I respectfully tried. It is up to them to decide whether they care enough to alter their behavior.

  59. OMG, this is my absolute worst travel pet peeve. I think it’s unfortunately a societal change more than a couple inconsiderate people. Maybe they’ve been doing this at home since they were a kid and their parents are also desensitized to it. I really wish the airline personnel would be more proactive in keeping this from spreading. A Southwest flight attendant made my day once when he announced over the intercom that headphones needed to be used if you were watching a movie…pretty much directed at one person. Perhaps the industry needs to launch some sort of public awareness campaign, lol.

  60. For me, it depends upon whether I want to bother (a mixture of my mood and how put off I am). I think the idea of having an extra pair of crappy headphones (whether bought or just give away ones you’ll ever use) to offer is a good first step. If that doesn’t work, as a slight escalation, I’d offer to talk to the responsible people – depending upon where you are – to see if they might have some better headphones that he can use. Obviously, that’s NOT what I’d say as a follow-up with management, but again it keeps focus on trying to solve an issue versus just complaining.

  61. I’ll usually give it a minute and see if they are just watching something short. If it seems like it continues, I’ll just say “Can you please use headphones?” No one has ever reacted negatively. Usually they give a surprised “Oh, sorry”, like they didn’t realize they were bothering anyone.

  62. @Gerard Some take the headphones and use them, some just turn the volume down or get up and walk away. All of them give me a shitty look. haha.

    Full disclosure: Even though I’m a teddy bear, I’m a pretty intimidating dude at 6’5″ and built.

  63. Yeah Japan is pretty nice. It is a proper 1st world country where people mostly follow the rules. Those who do not, including immigrants find out pretty soon that life will be difficult for them.

    America on the other hand is rapidly devolving into a 3rd world country and thousands more are pouring in every day. This what you get in a society where anything goes and nothing is illegal.

    Enjoy it.

  64. Need more signs that say “Keep the noise level down. This is a public place”. Just like on trains and announcements in Japan.

  65. @ Lucky you have hit upon the one thing that irritates me the most in this world. Why does anyone think that I want to listen to their music, video game, you tube videos or even phone call. Alright I can understand the occasional phone call that must be taken, but it had better be quick and to the point. Manners are a dying trait.

    In the past, I would react with a glare to the offender or his/her parent if present. If that didn’t work I would swoop in with a direct comment. However, that always left me with a confrontation or feeling like a complete ass who had overreacted.

    Lately I have taken 2 different approaches. Option 1, I notify whoever is responsible for the facility, steward, lounge employee, etc. and ask them to take care of the annoyance. Option 2, I put my own noise cancelling headphones on and retreat to my inner quiet place. I think I am getting old because I no longer feel the need to be the etiquette police and find myself taking option 2 more and more. Its just not worth the extra stress.

  66. These days you can’t say anything while in the USA, because they could be MAGA people who will shoot you dead for anything

  67. Last Monday at noon JFK Admirals Club Terminal 8: young woman walks into the bar area and throws her stuff right next to me (lounge was empty). I turn around so as not to embrace her as it seemed she was looking for some attention. Had my AA headphones on but could hear her LOUD TALK and sense her pacing the lounge in 20 foot paths…… back and forth…. loud talking on the Apple EarBuds. I felt sorry for her and simply got up and left. Lounge is nice and big.
    Those EarBuds do more harm.

  68. I’ve wondered the same thing before. Obviously people who do this are complete idiots … It’s basic common sense and human decency not to blast sound in public like this. If they don’t have the intelligence to know that already, how can you hope to teach them? On the other hand, it upsets me to let them “get away with it”.

    IMHO, people should be kicked off of planes for doing this if it is before takeoff, and fined/banned from airlines if it is already in the air. If airlines stood up and took a stand here for the benefit of the 99.9% of reasonable customers, the problem should go away quickly.

  69. GAH! This is such a pet peeve of mine! Even though I have my own Bose headphones, I carry several pairs of the American Airlines headphones the flight attendants pass out on the (soon to be gone, sigh) aircraft equipped with IFE. I have every intention of passing these to offending people, but never do. THANKS for those of you courageous enough to tell these people to have some respect for their fellow passengers.

  70. You could always sit down next to them and crank up your own volume, but I save the cheapo on-board giveaway headsets and hand them out with a disgusted look. Never had a problem, occasionally receive applause from others.

  71. considering how often you fly, I’d say accept the free ear buds they offer in the air (I have several unopened sets from AA myself) and keep a couple on hand for these circumstances.

    I always say give people a brief chance, but if loudness persists and they show no sign of stopping, I’ll say something- usually by way of the flight attendant or lounge rep. Maybe unfortunate for them, but it’s one of the things they are paid to handle and they have the backing of the airline on their side. Someone can ignore me or lie and claim I said something different, but ignoring crew instructions can get you kicked off the flight.

  72. From our monthly flying experience it’s getting out of hands. In airlines lounge areas kids are running and screaming all over the place, touching the food, opening and closing any cabinet door available and parents are just oblivious and do not react. The lounge employees should remind people it is a quieter area to relax or do some work before or even between flights. People are not respectful of others at all. Some people should never be parents to humans or animals.
    In flights there are more kids sitting in first class seats which we just do not get.
    The airlines need to step in and issue some rules. Same applies traveling with “emotionally support animals” and “nice service dogs” that turn wishes and bite people. People can get seriously ill just by contact with a dog, never mind being licked by one. Who is responsible if a person have to have limbs amputated after being licked by someone’s animal in flight or at the airport? Passengers need more peace, quiet and protection from all that we get exposed to and have to endure on regular basis when flying.

  73. Thank you for addressing this issue. I find under our current political administration; people think they can do whatever they want. Manners no longer exist.

    It is a HUGE problem on NYC ‘s subways. I recently asked someone on, and the teenager called me a racist. Other people of her race came to my defense and reprimanded her. She exited at the next stop, and people apologized to me. I was mortified they felt the need to apologize.

    At the ORD Delta Club, a woman was asked to stop talking loudly on her phone without a headset, and the club banned her. The incident is in her profile. Kudos Delta!

    In another instance, I did what another commenter suggested and joined her conversation. It drove her crazy, and she moved. The people surrounding me applauded the idea.

    Clubs and airlines need to post notices and enforce rules, but, sadly, common sense is not so common.

  74. @Ed

    What was said that is racist?

    @August 100 Percent Agreed.

    Happy Wednesday or Thursday to you lovely people!

  75. Buy some Bose noise cancelling headphones. Then you can listen to your favorite sounds.

  76. ben, i pocket the ones the flight attendants hand me on planes and use them to hand to someone who is doing this. almost always they look up and say oh, sorry and pull out there own headphones.

  77. As a society, we’ve lost couth and if that means it’s my job to politely remind people to not act like complete and utter turds, so be it.

    I politely tell people to cut the noise. In lounges, in planes, in quiet places. If they don’t listen, I get a FA or lounge employee involved. I’m not about to break a nail by getting physical with some luddite.

    Like small children, if you don’t call them out, they won’t learn.

    I am not going to coddle them into simple manners.

  78. Good lord! You hit a sore spot as the number of comments indicate.

    I read the first 10 replies and then skimmed to the bottom.

    Look, if you’re going to approach someone, the best way to get compliance is to crouch down before them and look up at them so you’re not threatening — and then ask them to put on earphones/buds — or else give them to them.

    Failing that, ask the lounge attendant. It won’t be the first time they’ve had to do it.

  79. “Die Freiheit des Einzelnen endet dort, wo die Freiheit des Anderen beginnt.” Immanuel Kant
    “Individual freedom ends where the other’s freedom begins” Immanuel Kant

    If someone is inytruding in my space – in what way ever – he crossed a border. I am not willing to accept this, be it in an airplane or in a longe. And in particular not in the quiet zone of a lounge (why do people always choose recliner chairs before they start their conversation, preferrably on speaker) or the restaurant.

    And, no, it is NOT me who should move somewhere else, it is the other person who should learn his manners.

    Oh, by the way, I am a different Alex than the one above.

  80. I get up & move if I can. This actually happened recently with a kid & his video game in an IC unit. I gave him cheap ear buds & asked his mom why she didn’t have any for him?? I mean where next…church?

  81. @craig is right. But it is up ti5tye flight attendant to do something about it as well as staff in the lounge. They need to be told and ask them, and insist they do something about it. It as hideous as seeing people with barefeet, ugly ones or not, etc on board. Show respect to fellow passengers. Its not your loungeroom.

  82. If they are talking on speaker phone, I will interject myself into the conversation. Isn’t that the message they are sending by using speaker in a public place?

    One time a guy was on a business call on speaker while having a bowel movement in a Walmart bathroom stall. Like any reasonable person, I made very loud moaning noises while using the urinal next to him.

  83. You’re right to be pissed. These are the worst people in the world. I cannot fathom how anyone could be that outrageously inconsiderate.

    I have confronted these assholes in lounges, on airplanes, etc., and yes, they often get all hot and bothered, but they put in their frikking headphones like 99% of the time.

    I do think you should confront this behavior wherever you see it. It’s insane that people have to be taught not to do this, but apparently, that’s what our society has come to.

  84. Being Australia, we tend to be more upfront rather than pussyfoot around ha ha.

    So what I do is walk up to them, face to face ( so no yelling across a room ) and I say to them, so at least one other person in the lounge can hear me:

    “G’day mate, do you know why they call them personal devices?” as I point to the phone or the tablet…. they usually look-up at me and then I say “Because they are Personal!” and before they can say anything back, I walk away.

    It works every time.

  85. For those who think lounge space is somehow different than the airplane, or any other public space, think again. These are all examples of shared spaces. While an airline seat has been purchased and some may feel it’s personal space, it’s only personal in that the seat is reserved for that passenger’s butt. It ends there, unless said seat is placed into a cocoon or bubble. Said another way, seatback IFE never had speakers – one had to purchase headphones or use their own to hear the sound. That should be the first clue.

    @Craig really nailed it though. It’s societal and frankly, Americans are the worst. We have become a society of prioritizing self-satisfaction over common good. Instant gratification consumerism with complete disregard for others. It’s a huge combination of so many ills.

    That said, those who are passively avoiding confrontation are effectively saying ‘it’s ok to continue what you are doing.’ Saying something does not mean one is being confrontational, simply addressing the issue. Politely done, this can result (in my experience) with both sides being mutually satisfied. If that doesn’t work, the FA, lounge attendant or any other person of authority should be asked to step in.

  86. Several years ago I was on a flight from Paris to Minneapolis. My husband and I were seated in the coach bulkhead seats (an upcharge) and across the aisle were two adults and a year old “lap”child. Shortly into the flight several other family members came up to “party” with our across the aisle neighbors. To entertain the child they started throwing him up in the air and catching him. The kid shrieked with either pleasure or terror—I couldn’t tell which. The decibel level was enormous and included people standing between our seats and the bulkhead. I asked the flight attendant if she would ask these people to quiet down and take their seats. She told me she couldn’t because they would get angry. I said, “but that’s your job”. She called a male flight attendant and he did what he could.

  87. I hit the UA SFO & LAX clubs pretty frequently. The ones that annoy are the (usually guys) who have the combo earpiece and microphone attached to their ear. They are usually talking to someone in their office about the next big deal/meeting or whatever. Then, as previously mentioned are the ‘wanderers’ who walk around talking about something really important. Then there’s the guy at the large LA horseshoe shaped bar who is oblivious to those around him who could care less about how so-and-so is a loser and should be fired, etc.
    I was at least hoping to pick up some stock tips, but I can only hear the guys one-way conversation. Maybe there’s really no-one on the other end, just likes to hear himself pontificate…the clubs need a little business card mentioning the obvious rules.

  88. Lucky… you always tell people to put on their headphones when they dont like so-so noise and why aren’t you? You sounds very controlling. Just grow up and put on your headphones.

  89. So now “illegal immigrants” are to blame for loud talkers and video games on planes? Eye roll. Thank you, Ed, for calling it out.

    As to the core question, why not ask, “Sorry to trouble you, but could you possibly turn that device down or use headphones?”

    Collectivist cultures do have greater recognition of mutual obligations/respect and the shared public sphere; the culture of narcissism is sadly thriving in many individualistic cultures.

  90. Engaging with noisy/impolite people is only going to bring you grief. Don’t do it.
    Manners and decorum are a fading artifact of the US South (with sarcasm) / Victorian era England that is fading quickly.

    Buy some good headphones – disappear into your own world.
    Or learn how to fart on demand to piss them off ….

    They don’t understand, they don’t want to understand, they won’t understand. You are an annoyance in their self centered lives..

    Don’t get killed pissing them off.

    Darwin will take care of them sooner of later.

  91. Maybe he put the Trump Telecast on speaker phone so you all could enjoy it. Let strat looking fo rthe good in people

  92. This drives me to the edge and I am utterly aghast that people think anything they say, do, watch or listen to is so damn fascinating that we all must be aware of it.

    I agree that the NYC subways can be the worse, but you definitely have to be selective about picking those battles as one could very well end up dead or at the least beaten and bruised.

    Is there one association that governs or monitors all airlines, because if so we could most certainly flood their Twitter page, Instagram, etc.. with complaints and request they implement a new regulation in all public areas. With the cost of flying these days, at the very least I would expect is an announcement at the beginning of every flight and signage in all public spaces. If Megabus, OurBus, etc….has this standard as their norm (drivers always make an announcement a the beginning) I think airlines should at least rise to the level of economy bus lines.

    Oh, and AmperSands…..are you trying to imply that Central Americans are the ones having conversations sans headphones because everyone whose ever annoyed the hell out of me has spoken perfect English and tend to be suburban kids and their parents who obviously are living out that line in Paris is Burning, “Everything is yours…..You Own Everything”

  93. @Ampersand,

    I go at no problem w the people coming here to work, or build a better life. I just dislike the overentitled ones who think they own the place. Go back to where you came from!

  94. I’m pretty good size guy and happened to be a blackbelt, so i just use it to intimidate them. I asked them in a firm voice to shut the hell up, and it often works. I never really get in a fist fight when asking them because they perceive me as someone who would not back down.
    Latest example was a flight from SFO to SEA, this dude was annoyingly loud and obnoxious. He was blasting his phone watching videos. So I got fed up and just straight up told him to use his headset or we will have a problem. He complied and other passenger gave their nod of approval.

  95. On planes, I nicely and directly ask people if they’d mind wearing their headphones. No big deal. Once this older woman genuinely thought she was already wearing them, which was kinda funny.

    Sometimes people are crazy though. Once this woman on a plane was watching a full volume program about the violent sexual assault of children including interview footage, which was very disturbing. She refused to wear headphones when asked by two different passengers, myself included. People like that are disgusting and it’s not worth trying to talk to them, they’re obviously being obnoxious on purpose. These days, I go directly to a flight attendant or someone in authority when a sociopath is the offender.

  96. I’m not confronting anyone directly and I’m certainly not doing anything like giving out cheap earbuds. I’ll speak to a flight attendant or lounge staff, discreetly, maybe. What I always do is travel with noise cancelling headphones. For situations where more is needed, I also always travel with really effective earplugs – not the kind in amenity kits, but rather the kind jackhammer operators would use. Then I retreat into my Private Idaho and read a book or nap.

  97. The ones who get under my skin are those who wander around the lounge with their mobile phones pressed to their ears Having Very Important Business Conversations (sometimes coming very close to sharing serious proprietary information with anyone who would care to listen.)

    Just once I’d love to try wandering in a path that occasionally intersects with one of the numpties with my mobile pressed against my ear and the following conversation:

    Hi, Steve, you’ve been really hard to get hold of today. (Pause)

    Yeah, I’ve been trying to call all day. (Pause)

    I’m on my way to (Fiji / Davos) for a (vacation / Very Important Business Meeting) and just wanted to check on my portfolio before I get on the plane. (Pause)

    (Stop dead in my tracks) What?!! (Pause)

    Oh my God! (Pause)

    Oh my God!!! (Pause, looking panicked)

    Sell!!! (Pause)

    Sell it all!!! (Pause)


  98. People have lost a sense of decency today and feel totally entitled to blast videos wherever they are at full volume without any regard for others around them. It’s saddening. People feel it appropriate to have video calls in public, again at full volume without headphones. It’s where society has fallen to these days where people focus directly on what is right in front of them with absolutely no regard for anything or anyone around them.

    It’s sad.

  99. Perhaps get up look offender in eye and say in a loud voice “please turn up the volume I can hardly hear your game or conversation” Yeah I am talking to you rude person. I was always famous at work for saying what everyone else was thinking. Now at 65 I have not changed.
    You need to address the stupid and selfish directly. Just like a supervisor (me 40 years) or teacher (me 2 years) would do to change bad behavior. PS my wife says I am a Alpha and male 6’2” 225#. If you allow crap the world becomes crappy.

  100. Totally agree. Its annoying. Recent experience was an Aussie lady in the SQ lounge doing a loud Facetime call. After a couple of minutes I took a seat next to her and started shouting in a phone as well, pretending I was on a call, talking non stop. She got annoyed and stopped the call. The moment she stopped I stopped.

  101. I always try to politely ask them if they can lower the volume or use a earphone. You’d be surprised how often they comply. Most people don’t want problems, and if the request is reasonable, they will do it. Surely there are few times they say no, but its worth the try.

  102. I see this all the time. It is one thing when a kid is playing a video/game to stay occupied, another when an adult is having a loud FaceTime call on a plane or in a lounge.

    In one instance, my response was to join the conversation. The loud FaceTime conversation lasted ten mins, so I got up and asked if we could hear more about how Harriet is doing in school and what Bob’s plans are for the weekend. The guy on the iPad and the people on the video both stared at me, and I told them everyone in the lounge was part of their conversation so I might as well join in – embarrassed, the guy left the lounge ASAP.

  103. I also hate when this happens, especially the FaceTime thing, but then again, how is that different (in terms of noise) from people talking to each other while in the same room. Why is one allowed and the other isn’t?

  104. This just happened to us, in the quiet area of the DFW flagship lounge sat an older man watching a movie without his headphones. After I settled on my very comfortable lounge chair across the room, I shot him dirty looks until my husband came in and said, “This is the quiet area?” And I said “Yeah not so quiet is it??” It, worked, he put his headphones on. If he hadn’t we would have said something to him as it was a designated quiet area!
    Whenever it’s happened on a flight that I’ve been on, fortunately the flight attendant has said something to the socially clueless person. The gun game thing is unacceptable, I can’t believe they didn’t say anything.

  105. This is becoming all too common – even on the quiet car of the Amtrak train, which has signs everywhere prohibiting loud talking and cell phone use.

    Another trend I have been experiencing is folks (men specifically) asking me not to recline my seat on an airplane – this especially irks me when I have paid for first/business class or premium economy internationally. This has happened THREE times in the last year! I am a slender female but I have long legs, terrible knees, and I have to travel often.

    One time particularly stands out – it happened in the Premium Economy cabin (similar to domestic 1st class) on a 12 hr international flight. During dinner service the gentleman behind me (of average height and weight) asked the FA to have me place my seat in an upright position – which she did. Trying to be considerate, I complied during the meal service. Once the meal was over I was ready to try to get some rest. I reclined my seat and seconds later I hear a “ding” behind me as this same gentleman activated the FA call bell. This time, obviously irritated, this gentleman addressed the FA saying, “I thought you asked HER (meaning me) to keep her seat up.” Again, the FA tapped me on the shoulder and, after I took my earbuds out, she asked me to put my seat up. At this point I was done – I completely refused and asked her not to bother me about it again. I reminded her that I paid over 50% more than the coach ticket to be able to have extra space in Premium Economy and, to top it off, the person in front of me had their seat reclined (which I had no problem with). She shrugged her shoulders and walked away. The obnoxious passenger behind me started bad mouthing me to the other passengers in his row saying if I felt so “entitled” perhaps I should have sprung for first class. I turned around and asked him, “Since you are in such desperate need of extra space why didn’t you?” The rest of the flight was uneventful but far from comfortable for me.

  106. I’m sorry I can’t put it in any other way: the world is full of sissies! If something bothers you, speak up for yourself. Don’t rely on your mama to take care of your issues.

    Amazing… everybody is so offended about every nonsense these days but nobody dares to stand for his rights anymore. And even the author of this blog seems to be afraid of other man, because “he seemed macho”. You all must be joking…

  107. What you’re experiencing isn’t something new, it’s not a trend. You’re just realizing most people are self-centered garbage. But the majority of the US population has always been this way; you’re only seeling it more due to the inexpensive availability of portable video games, media devices and phones that enable this behavior; basic economy flights that get more of these people onto planes; and more ways than ever to get lounge access.

    The only thing you can do is say something yourself. At first it’ll feel uncomfortable but with every success you’ll feel more confident in matching their selfishness with your own selfishness (full disclosure: I consider wanting a reasonable decibel environment without people using the speaker on their phone to be the “correct” selfishness). And at worst you know they made it through security so barring an all-too-common TSA oversight the worse you can expect is a punch in the face, money in the bank after they settle your lawsuit and a great story to tell at parties. Those people will never take a hint and they’ll never permanently change their behavior (remember, in their telling of the story you’re the entitled a-hole), so the only thing you can do in the end is meet them head on with an unapologetic selfishness of your own and hope the crowd has your back.

  108. Fascinating post and responses. I haven’t noticed the trend but can’t help wondering what if you just record the offense and play it back loud enough that the offender can hear it?

  109. I like the words from the old guy “the problem isn’t guns, it’s video games.”
    Everybody outside USA knows its not true. Its the people that kills but people in USA will NEVER understand that. Allways try to find another way.

  110. I notice this more and more. People used to be more aware on planes but it seems like lately my last several flights I’ve had kids playing loud games or mostly watching loud movies with no earphones and their parents don’t say anything.

    Sometimes I feel like saying something. Especially because I have 3 young kids and I’m ALWAYS aware and never allow them to watch movies without earphones or make them watch them with no volume. But twice now I’ve seen people tell parents to quiet their kids and the parents actually were the “macho” type described and told the other person to mind their own business and if they didn’t want to listen to it then they could put on headphones. Unbelievable!

  111. W and Joe–
    Skiing and hiking, agreed. And add the beach to the list of places where some people think they own all the space within hearing distance. It’s the new normal. Wait until they allow cell phone conversations on planes – I for one will stop traveling.

  112. I think a lot of people are just ignorant and don’t realize they are bothering others.
    I usually just say in a very calm way: “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt you. This is very loud.”
    And I try to look like I’m really sorry for ruining the good time they are having. When they comply, I thank them profusely and apologize again. I like to think this minimizes the risk of a confrontation and I also think it’s generally a good approach to assume people aren’t being assholes on purpose.

  113. Happens often in the CX’s FC Wing dining room. Mostly main-land women on speaker phone, with volume up to the max. Many a time I had to ask the servers to ask these phone-people to be quieter. Once I just said , “Aiyah! guom mou Leai ah”. (Such a lack of politeness!); in my limited Cantonese!

  114. Why are people so scared nowadays ? I have no problem asking someone to put the headphones on or talking to a parent on business class to ask their kids to keep the noise down. Most people are surprised , speechless and even embarrassed with the situation. Sure, there are the one that keep a bad face for the rest of the flight but that is better than noise.

  115. Honestly. Hundreds of comments. 80% saying don’t confront. Wow. It’s completely unacceptable behavior and against the by-laws governing travel by most means. It’s against the rules of most Lounges, and it doesn’t need to be said that it’s just indecent.

    I used to hand out headphones. I then bought active noise cancelling headphones and always have them with me. My policy is if I can still hear it with music on and noise cancelling, and they don’t react to a smile and a raised eye brow, then I confront them directly by saying. “did you realize your phone is playing out loud”.

    Many people angrily respond. “You could just ask me to turn it down” my response is. “No. You can either wear headphones or turn it off”.

    I have autism and some sensory disorders, so the very loud sound from very small speakers is painful. It literally hurts. It is annoying to everyone, but I literally can not cope, and I am not going to let it ruin my day. If I’m on a bus or train, and I’m getting off within 3 minutes I won’t bother, I’ll just go downstairs, but if i have to endure the noise I’ll be bad for hours.

    With FaceTime I give people the benefit of the doubt. Remember we do not know what they are going through or how long they are away from home or how important that call is. If someone is saying goodnight to their kids in a lounge there’s no need to be an a$$hole. If someone is talking to their parents, same, but it’s a shared space and it’s NOT a public space. None of these are public spaces like a Park or street, Where you would just move.

  116. For me , it is a matter of such people disturbing the public around them . Everyone has a right to a quiet space and they must respect other peoples rights . I usually speak to people or gesture or move away according to the situation . Case by case but never do nothing . People need to learn by their mistakes .

  117. LH F class has free WiFi vouchers. The guy sitting behind me talked to his wife via Skype again and again. I talked to flight attendant and she told him to stop, which he did.

    Still, having to listen to these beep sounds from all over the cabin when people get a message on their phone is super annoying. How hard can it be to put the phone on silent mode or vibration ?

  118. A lot of people are saying “it’s ok in the lounge because you can move to another seat”. Sorry that’s crazy. It’s not ok in the lounge. It’s not ok in any indoor public space. It’s obnoxious behavior, plain and simple.

  119. You don’t need to buy earphones in bulk. Just one good pair of noise-cancelling earphones will solve your problem (mostly).

  120. If they are on the phone holding court I usually get close to them and start talking gibberish so loudly they either can’t hear the person on the other end or the person on the other end can’t hear them.

  121. I’m British which means a situation like this is very awkward. Deep down we would probably want to murder the little bleeder or at least the parents but our Britishness means we go through the following procedure.
    1 Raise an eyebrow
    2. Tut
    3. Sharp intake of breath
    4. Glance very quickly at the child or parent
    5. Move
    Once at stage 5 we know we have won a moral victory and can relax in the knowledge the family are most certainly not British as were they action 1 would have caused them such humiliation as to move themselves.

  122. @Simon

    Biggest reason are the most disliked nation is europe is ther arrogance.

    Not too sure where you are taking this from. If there is a drunk guy screaming in the airplane, or on the streets, or fighting outside a football match, you can be sure 99.9% of the time they are british. You are all very polite, till you have the first pint.

    “Family are most certainly not British” what a joke !

  123. @Simon

    Biggest reason British are the most disliked nation is europe is their arrogance.

    Not too sure where you are taking this from. If there is a drunk guy screaming in the airplane, or in the streets, or fighting outside a football match, you can be sure 99.9% of the time they are british. You are all very polite, till you have the first pint.

    “Family are most certainly not British” what a joke !

  124. Let’s pressure the airlines to make policy, citing “common courtesy” as the (good) reason. We have to ‘turn off electronic devices’ in other situations, so why not because of ‘imposing upon other passengers” ??

  125. @AmperSands – I believe @Ed was pointing out your assertion that illegal immigration is somehow to blame for uncouth behavior like @Lucky described because that assertion is baseless and completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. You imply that illegal immigrants are either a source of this noise, or that their presence somehow allows all our social norms and customs to breakdown, neither of which are true. The VAST majority of individuals I’ve seen engaging in this behavior are middle-aged, “all-American”, over-entitled, white businessmen who think their phone call to some middle-manager client is the most important thing in the world.

    Leave your MAGA hat at the door and turn off Fox News before you comment, otherwise you sound foolish.

  126. @arnie
    I agree we Brits do let ourselves down when we go abroad I can’t defend the behaviour of some of my compatriots. My post was written with a degree of irony which again is a fairly British thing.
    Happy travels,

  127. @Simon

    Apologies I missed the point them, but you need improve your jokes 🙂

    Same to you ! Happy travels

  128. @Simon

    Apologies I missed the point then, but you need improve your jokes

    Same to you ! Happy travels

    Apologies for the double post. Cant be edited.

  129. @arnie
    No worries on any score. Take care and best wishes from the Uk for as long as it lasts.

  130. @Simon

    I got it the first time and found it droll. Early exposure to P.G. Wodehouse made me a lifetime fan of dry and understated British humor, e.g. “He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”

    Don’t worry about those who weren’t gruntled by your post.

  131. I lived for five years in Philly, where this issue was rampant on all public transit and at the airport (people there are just outright rude). I developed the skill of telling them to cut it out or literally glaring them into stopping, and I continue to do the same on planes today. I don’t really care if it’s ‘polite’ or ‘appropriate’, it bothers me and I will tell them to stop. I suggest you acquire the same ability.

  132. I think another way to solve your problem and also could be fun would be sit next to the guy having the FaceTime convo and play a YouTube of someone demonstrating Call of duty without headphones (preferably a 13 year old with a foul mouth) The old man would be all insulted and hopefully confront you then you could say “treat others the way you want to be treated!”

  133. Personally I use the “live person substitute” rule. That is, would I feel differently if, instead of hearing someone’s conversation or sounds from a phone, it was two (or more) people having a conversation? I will admit that it bothers me to hear people talking on a phone out loud (usually about mundane things I feel could really wait), listening to music, games or movies while in public or in shared spaces. But I’ve realized that some of that reaction is my own bias in feeling people are too self-centered and have no common courtesy. But that’s my problem. Ultimately, if I feel it is a space where a (quiet) conversation between people is acceptable, I just deal with it. But I’ve also been known to give looks and passive aggressive comments for egregious violators (but am not advocating for these as acceptable behaviours either).

  134. I’m appalled by how many commenters here believe that the best approach is to not confront. I get that confrontation is uncomfortable, and avoid it myself as much as I can. But we unanimously agree here that inconsiderate behavior is unacceptable, so what good does it do to foster more of it by silently tolerating it?

    I’m willing to bet that most offenders dislike confrontation also. People who FaceTime or play video games or watch YouTube aren’t there to pick a fight with strangers. Sure they could get very defensive when called out, but if they expect to be called out every time they’d probably modify their behavior.

    This is no different from teaching a child or training a dog. Respond consistently to a certain behavior and you will encourage / discourage it. We as a society needs to be responsible for shaping the culture that we want to have.

  135. Wow! Not much of a Hot Topic ;?)

    I’ll say, it depends on my mood and at what level I’m annoyed/disturbed.

    Always go to the parent if it’s a child…Period.

    I’ll ask them politely to lower their voice, use a headset, or go elsewhere with their conversation.

    If it’s a conversation on a mobile device…I speak loudly in their presence very passive aggressive, I’ll begin answering their questions and inserting myself into the conversation; they must want my opinion if they’re broadcasting like a mega-phone.

  136. I actually don’t get why many people in this form + Ben seem to be afraid to say something. No one will start a fight in a lounge or plane!

    Unfortunatetly, I have to ask others on a regular basis to be more quiet when travelling. I typically ask if that person minds to use HIS headphone. So far 100% everyone said yes, sure or did get the trick to turn off the noise. I never was “confronted” or had a negative experience.

    When someone speaks very loudly on the phone, I tell people that I can hear all details of this “confidential” notes. Typically, people are more thankful for having being given this hint as they typically don’t want to reveal the call details but just forgot about their environment.

    Never ever so far I did get any unfriendly reaction or confrontation back. I’d suggest to all who are afraid but have never done so, to just give it a try. NOTE: this applies to airport lounges and aircrafts where people for sure will not fist-fight with you, it might not work as well when done in a bar or club! 😉

  137. We seeing more and more of this and it is getting out of hand!
    Airlines to need enforce a quiet law across or segregate the planes between quiet areas and non-quiet areas like commuter trains do here. Let’s see how many people are willing to give up their loud video games and video talks to seat in the front few rows including emergency exit raw.

  138. The point that the offenders generally don’t want confrontation is right, and they are indeed usually ignorant and unthinking rather than deliberately annoying.
    One should certainly not hesitate because the person at the other end will hear you, or they will miss a line of the film while you are speaking to them!

    Here are some ideas:
    Generally positive (with a smile):
    “Hey, if you put on your headphones all these people around will [stop resenting you][be really happy][smile at you].”

    For a teenager:
    “I can understand that you dream of having your own ‘plane, but until you get there we’re all in this small space together, so please use headphones to avoid annoying your neighbours.”

    For business conversations:
    “Is your employer* happy with you making confidential information loudly public?”
    * if you pick up a name from their conversation, use it.

    It’s easy to come up with snarky ideas which read well here, but require lots of nerve to use for real.
    I would be interested to hear of other/better lines which get the message over without being confrontational.

  139. @Michael says:
    August 8, 2019 at 4:22 am
    Larry David has it figured out.
    Thank you @Michael! I am Larry David at that table everywhere I seem to travel….. thank god there is someone else out there with my same “humor”

    Thank you for that link. You da best!

  140. Cultural difference. I’m relieved to hear it is not just China where I live atm. You can’t get away with telling people off here – the Chinese have a different perception of what constitutes personal space and what is acceptable behaviour. Who am I to tell the Chinese how to behave in their own country at the F CA lounge here in PEK? Its another story when you are in a different country. It is satisfying to remind them to observe the customs of their host.

    PS I love how one of the responses here blame it on illegal immigrants in the US. I would think an airport lounge would be the last place I would be if I did not have valid documentation.

  141. “Amper Sands says:
    August 7, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Sadly the USA has been flooded with illegal immigration and the politicians want open borders for their own benefit (lining their wallets). I’ll leave it at that.

    @Lucky I feel EXACTLY the same as you!”

    Somehow, i doubt that Lucky feels the same as you…

  142. When it’s a kid on a plane, I’ve found that trying with a super friendly request helps: “hey buddy, that’s awfully loud and it’s hurting my ears. Will you please use some headphones or turn it waaaay down so it won’t keep hurting my ears?” If not successful, or if the dad intervened and was offended that I’d asked, I would pull in a flight attendant and ask for help.

    For a grownup, I think the best thing to do would be to sit as close as possible to the annoying loud talker and (having given a good friend or sibling a text warning), have a loud conversation right next to them, and continue to point out how super hard it is to hear because “lots of people are having LOUD conversations RIGHT HERE”. Totally passive aggressive but super satisfying 🙂 and the one time I tried, I at least got the offender’s attention!

  143. Be a guide for chinese mainland tourist. When you’re get used to them, people not using headphones would be the least of your worries.

  144. Just to add some more oil to the fire… how about seatmate who is reeking of alchohol and watching video of his niece on speakerphone? Even when he fell asleep, there was no relief… Should I also include his shoulders and elbow eating up about quarter of my seat space, as he was obese and traveling on ULCC?

    With the rise of ULCC, we brought same democracy (with lowercase “d”) that existed all this time on bus depots and train cars. Just recently I had to remind woman behind me that it is inappropriate to put her feet (in street shoes) on my armrest (I was in a row with one missing seat due to exit).

    As female traveler, I had to learn to stand the ground… it is one thing that somebody somewhere in your earshot is inconsiderate/loud/smelly, but if you are lone female (with at least semi-passable looks) you quickly learn that too many men feel entitled to “entertain” you with their awesomeness, tipsy-ness and all. And I can tell you that hell hath no fury as men rejected in public.

    Stand your ground, politely. You can’t compensate for tears of missed upbringing on manners, but you also should not become rude yourself. And be aware that politeness really has no weapons, nor it is guaranteed to win – you just have to take care of your own circle of influence (you yourself being polite, always) and let the karma take care of yourself (with you helping along the way by pointing politeness to all that are missing it).

  145. Does anyone know of noise cancelling headphones which block the human vocal range? I just had a flight last week where the 20-something woman behind me was talking louder than I felt comfortable turning my Bose headphones up to.

    The worst part — she *never* shut up for more than 5 seconds at a time. (I timed it). She kept trying to impress the guy next to her, who obviously was very UNimpressed with her, but she wasn’t getting the hint, nor would she have been able to since her mouth was constantly going…at full volume. More annoying that someone watching their phone, to be honest.

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