Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

It’s no secret that air travel is a mode of transportation that is fraught with stress. You’re trapped in a hollow metal tube with no escape for hours, alongside hundreds of strangers that you might not have chosen to otherwise hang out with. Heck, you might not even be with your FRIENDS AND FAMILY for that long! Further complicating things is the fact that different people have different standards of etiquette and culture. Even within the same (“American”) culture, there are different standards for acceptable behavior.

Ranking 37 Airplane Behaviors

A recent YouGov poll ranked 37 things that people can do on an airplane, from most unacceptable to generally considered acceptable. Here was there list

  • Let their children play in the aisle – 86% unacceptable to 5% acceptable
  • Get drunk
  • Leave their seat during turbulence
  • Watch a movie or show without headphones – 81% unacceptable to 11% acceptable

Who are these 11% of people and can we make sure they never fly again?

Middle person “owns” both armrests IMO.

  • Eat strong-smelling food
  • Not pay attention during the safety demonstration

I find it funny that 66% of people say it’s unacceptable to not pay attention during the safety demonstration but by informal count about 10% of people ACTUALLY pay attention during the safety demonstration.

  • Exit the plane before the people in the row in front of them
  • Not set their devices to airplane mode
  • Do exercises or stretches in the aisle
  • Remove their shoes
  • Climb over a seatmate to use the bathroom

What are you supposed to do (especially on long flights)?? I do believe that window and middle passengers should go when the aisle person gets up, but if you gotta go, you gotta go.

Sorry to the dog owners but cats ranked higher!

  • Unbuckle their seatbelt when the seatbelt light isn’t on
  • Leave their overhead light on when the cabin lights are switched off
  • Lie down on the seats when sitting in an empty row
  • Put small items like a purse or jacket in the overhead compartment on a full flight
  • Chat with a stranger next to them for the entire flight
  • Ask to switch seats with another passenger
  • Recline their seat – 55% acceptable to 26% not

I personally generally do not recline on most flights unless I’m sleeping, but I respect the rights of people to recline.

  • Close the window during takeoff or landing
  • Push the flight attendant call button to ask for refreshments
  • Wake up a seatmate to use the bathroom
  • Use a laptop on the tray table – 81% acceptable to 6% unacceptable

The Bottom Line – My Thoughts

I think that generally this is a good list that fits in with my personal beliefs as a fairly savvy traveler. There are a few things I might quibble with but overall it’s a pretty good list. My only complaint is that I wish that more people would actually NOT DO the things they SAY they find unacceptable….

(H/T: Live and Let’s Fly)

What do you think? What is the most unacceptable thing to do on an airplane? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as This may impact how and where links appear on this site. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers and that compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners and I do not include all card companies, or all available card offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers and other offers and benefits listed on this page. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them

User Generated Content Disclosure: Points With a Crew encourages constructive discussions, comments, and questions. Responses are not provided by or commissioned by any bank advertisers. These responses have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to respond to comments.