Seven things not to do while flying

A few weeks ago I posted about my seven hotel habits, so figured I’d make a post today about seven things NOT to do when flying. All seven of them were observed on a run of the mill domestic trip last night, and they’re pretty common. Just my opinion, and I realize some will disagree on a couple of the below points.

Don’t give a complimentary lap dance

I’m an aisle guy, though I’ll get up quickly and without complaints whenever the person in the window needs to get up. However, please, please, please don’t give me a lap dance. Please. Instead of telling me he was seated next to me during boarding, my seatmate simply got on top of me and held onto the back of my seat to squeeze his way into the window seat next to me. Unfortunately he didn’t have the build of a gymnast and got stuck while he was on top of me, and that was just a little bit awkward. He could’ve told me he was seated there and I would’ve been up before he finished his sentence.

Don’t stare at someone else’s laptop screen

This has to be my single biggest pet peeve. You ever try to get work done on an airplane, only to find that your seatmate is reading every single word you’re writing (kind of like mine is as I’m writing this post)? Yeah, admittedly there’s not all that much else to do on an airplane, but please don’t stare.

Don’t place any valuables in the bins at security

By the time I get to the security checkpoint I already have my phone, wallet, keys, and ID in the front pouch of my laptop bag. Never leave valuables in the bin, because some TSA agents do enjoy magically having stolen stuff end up in their home. It’ll also speed up the screening process.

Don’t rock out

Did I say staring at someone else’s laptop screen was my biggest airplane pet peeve? I lied, this definitely is. Listening to music can be a good way to pass time on planes, but the foot tapping, hand tapping, head bobbing, and humming can wait till you’re at home or in your own shower.

Don’t use mobile boarding passes

I know many will disagree with me on this one. I’m all for technology making our lives easier, and there’s no doubt it does in many areas… mobile boarding passes isn’t one of them, in my opinion.

Some people swear by them, but more often than not I see them holding up the line either because the boarding pass won’t load, they’re getting a phone call or text message, or it won’t scan. Mobile boarding passes hold up the line all the time.

Don’t throw your jacket at a captain dealing with (or making up) a maintenance delay thinking he’s a flight attendant

For that matter, don’t throw your jacket at anyone. But especially not at a less-than-happy captain after he returns from doing his walkaround.

Do watch people greeting loved ones in the arrivals hall

Screw it, we’ll only have six “don’ts” today, and one “do.” I arrived at Tampa Airport a bit early yesterday, and one of the nice things about the terminal is that the departure and arrivals area are in the same place.

Usually I walk with purpose in airports and could get around in my sleep. But I think as a result I’ve missed what has to be one of the most beautiful aspects of the airport experience.

Have you ever sat in the arrivals area for 10 minutes and just watched people greet loved ones? It really is kind of refreshing in this day and age where the importance of family seems to be lost. You see people greeting their spouses, kids greeting their grandparents, parents greeting their kids, etc.

I sat in the arrivals area for maybe 10 minutes smiling from all the happiness I saw. Try it some time.

Filed Under: Advice, Travel
  1. Yeah, going to have to disagree on that mobile boarding pass thing. Maybe once out of 100 uses I have a slow scan, but I can scan that baby faster than a gate agent can take a piece of paper from me, scan it, and hand it back. I’ve never had a phone call come in when boarding. And the one time, years ago, the thing wouldn’t load (not an issue now with apps – this was back when it required loading a web page) I stepped out of line.

  2. Don’t use mobile boarding passes

    I agree with this- keep all your paper boarding passes just in case you need to fight for compensation or mileage credit..

  3. Really like your last one. The arrival hall at an international airport is the best, lots of love. Pretty amazing stuff to watch and take in.

  4. Do watch people greeting loved ones in the arrivals hall.

    If you haven’t lately try MDE. Entire families show up to greet and see off traveling relatives.

  5. Disagree with not using mobile boarding passes. I always have paper just in case something happens, but whenever possible I use mobile boarding passes. I’ve never had issues scanning them or getting a call or the like.

  6. The movie, “Love Actually” starts and ends with (real) scenes of passengers being greeted by loved ones at airports for exactly the resasons you articulate.

  7. Best Arrival Hall watching has to be ATL–at the top of that steep escalator, where there seems to be always be the most Armed Forces personnel arriving. Now, those reunions are truly quite special and put it all in perspective.

  8. In Australia you can use your frequent flyer card to board… they scan it and print a receipt with your seat number (just as they do if you have a mobile boarding pass).

  9. You should see the scene at SLC with Mormon missionaries returning after two years – pretty touching to see families mobbing them

  10. yep, paper boarding passes seem to work better. however, i still use the mobile version at TSA and have the RCC print me a new one prior to boarding

  11. You can use a Delta Skymiles/Medallion card to board at most Delta airports (I know major ones like LAX and ATL for sure). A receipt with your seat assignment prints out. Use e-BP at security.

  12. Forget slowing the line – don’t you guys like to keep your boarding passes? I even ask them to reprint the flimsy paper ones!

  13. There is a Dutch TV show, called: “Hello, Goodby” which is just about people welcoming or saying their farewells ro family/friends, etc. a really good interviewer approaches people and interviews them on the spot about their welcome/farewell.. Already on tv for 6 seasons in a row!

  14. I asked the lady at TPA counter for a “real” boarding pass… she said they ONLY have those flimsy paper ones… 10 seconds later I’m having issues printing my “paper” one and she prints me a “real” one. *****.

  15. Regarding mobile boarding passes, the number one thing I’ve seen slow up the process are people (like me) who have their brightness turned way down to save battery life on their phone. If I turn the brightness all the way up, it immediately scans and I have no problems.

    I also take a screenshot of every mobile boarding pass and quickly email it to myself in case I need mileage credit down the road.

  16. +1 on the watching airport greetings.

    An addition to your don’ts list: don’t crank the volume on your music or gaming device on a plane! Even with headphones, the “off-gassing” from your loud music is hard on passengers around you.

  17. I think you should replace the no mobile boarding pass option with those who print their boarding pass at home with a crappy printer expecting their stripy faded barcode to scan.

  18. If you like family reunions – check out the brilliant T-Mobile ‘welcome home’ ad filmed in LHR Terminal 5.

  19. I have no idea why more folks don’t get the 3M privacy screens for their laptops if they are going to be working on planes. I can walk down the isle of any business-heavy flight and observe numerous presentations, reports, and spreadsheets that should be kept company-confidential. How does anyone know that their competitor isn’t sitting in the seat next to them or behind them watching as they compose that slide deck for their most prized client?

  20. Throwing jackets? i guess I haven’t flown enough to see that.

    Surprised no clipping nails on the list. Maybe that was in the top 10.

    I do love to watch people greeting their loved ones. I don’t stare like someone commented, but just take a quick look.

  21. Agreed, ATL is the best place to watch reunions – at the top of the escalators and so many military families.
    My biggest pet peeve is people playing their music too loud, even through earphones. This is especially annoying when they don’t turn it off during take off and landing and I can’t listen to my own music.

  22. The new passbook feature on the iPhone/iOS 6 has really improved the use of the mobile boarding pass, let alone other things such as your Starbucks and other types of tickets. You would checkin using the AA mobile app, and it sends your boarding to the passbook app. It’s much easier to use and the format it’s in is much more scan friendly.

  23. I have the 3M Gold Privacy filter on my laptop. I use it constantly, it is great for the airplane, terminal, and the conference room. Best $50 at amazon I’ve spent.

    Agree on mobile boarding passes, boarding agents hate them. I’ve only had one issue, unfortuantely it required going back to the ticket counter and re-waiting in line at checkpoint.

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