Which airline passengers drive you the craziest?

As any new parent knows, air travel with young kids isn’t always easy. But few experiences come close to the Suelings’ Thanksgiving flight from Westchester County to Atlanta on Delta Air Lines.

After the family boarded, their children, ages 3 and 1 1/2, began “crying, screaming and hitting,” according to Christopher Sueling. His wife, Melissa, tried to calm her baby by nursing her, but it didn’t work.

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“The flight attendants were just standing there, looking pissed off,” he says.

The jet taxied out to the runway, but then stopped and returned to the gate. The Suelings were told to get off the plane and that they needed to write to Delta if they wanted their money back. They even took a snapshot (see image, above) to document their ejection.

I’m the father of three young children, so I sympathize with the Suelings. I think Delta probably overreacted to the unruly family, and it certainly didn’t move quickly enough when they asked for a refund. I helped things along by contacting Delta on their behalf after they wrote to me last year asking for help, and they were eventually reimbursed.

But there are other passengers — and I think it’s probably safe to say that some air travelers on the Suelings’ outbound flight felt this way — who were relieved that the flight attendants showed them the door.

Why? Because they combined two of the least desirable qualities in a seatmate, according to many travelers I hear from: yelling kids and nursing moms.

I started giving the subject of unwanted seatmates serious thought after a recent story on XL passengers went viral in November. My editor asked me if there were other types of air travelers people avoided, and if we could try to identify the biggest offenders, as a public service to our readers.


The gadget guy. Passengers who can’t find the “off” switch on their iPhone (think Alec Baldwin) represent a special kind of annoyance to their fellow travelers. Not only do they often aggressively defend their right to use the electronics, even when federal law prohibits it, but they also have a tendency to be in your face about it. They’re less likely to follow the instructions of a crewmember and they show a complete disregard for the safety of others by operating their electronics when it could interfere with the aircraft’s critical systems.

The screaming infant. Noisy kids, and particularly very young children whose high-pitched voices reverberate throughout the cabin, rank high on every air traveler’s “most annoying” list. Here’s a little-known fact: When you’re a new parent, you develop the ability to block your baby’s incessant screams, so you basically can tune the child out whenever you want. The rest of your fellow passengers aren’t so lucky. The ear-piercing, glass-shattering screams have everyone else reaching for their earplugs. It’s highly irritating.

The barking lapdog. Pets on planes is a never-ending source of controversy, and with good reason. Pet owners, who insist they have a right to take Fluffy or Fido with them wherever they go, are clashing with travelers who claim they have allergies to pet dander, but are often just ticked off that they have to endure the sounds of a yapping, caged canine for the duration of a flight.

The oversize passenger. I could probably write about XL air travelers that take up more than one seat every week, because there are such strong opinions on both sides of the aisle. On one side, the passengers who are pushed out of their seat by big travelers who need to raise the armrests in order to sit down; on the other side, large passengers who believe their girth should be treated like a disability. In a way, both are victims — and both are annoyed by their critics.

The breastfeeding mom. I think most of us would be lying if we said we didn’t experience at least some level of discomfort at being seated next to a nursing mom. It’s not necessarily her baby, which we fear could projectile-burp the contents of its stomach on us, but the fact that she’ll probably expose herself at some point during the flight. There have been incidents involving breastfeeding moms, including one lawsuit against Delta by a mother who was kicked off a Delta flight a few years ago (sound familiar?).

The smelly or chatty adult. If you’ve ever been stuck next to the proselytizer pitching anything from a religion to insurance, you know how unbearable the flight can be. I’ve been there. But sometimes, a passenger doesn’t have to say anything in order to irritate you. She could have slathered half a bottle of retch-inducing gardenia perfume on her, pre-flight; or he could have simply refused to bathe the month before his trip, or downed a quart of vodka and inhaled a pack of unfiltered cigarettes to calm the nerves.

Bedbugs. Maybe the worst seatmates are the ones you can’t see. Here’s a woman on another Delta flight who says she was eaten by bedbugs on a recent flight. Delta again, huh? I would add to that list insects or rodents or — God forbid — snakes that come aboard and pester you during your trip. Highly annoying.

Hard decision, isn’t it? Air travelers are so easily annoyed by one another, and don’t even get me started with the things flight attendants do. But that’s another story.

Time to vote, my friends.

130 thoughts on “Which airline passengers drive you the craziest?

  1. I don’t mind nursing mothers so much. Babies need to eat, too, and in most countries, it’s pretty common for it to be done in semi-public. My vote goes for the idiots who have no sense of self-awareness – lugging huge bags on and hitting everyone along the aisles with them (try dragging them on the floor next time), people who use your seat as a brace to get out of theirs instead of using the armrests, people who press up against the seat in front for whatever (avoidable) reason, people who take forever to load / unload their carry-on (here’s a hint – if you’re unable to get out quickly, let others by who are, and wait until the end to disembark), people who need to get out 20 times during a flight (if you KNOW you have a small bladder, get there early and get an aisle seat!), and loud talkers (if I can hear your entire conversation four rows up, you are talking too loudly. Indoor voices, people!) and my list could go on and on… I’m not discriminatory, I just hate everyone. LOL.


  2. You might be able to cope with the rest of the list by using ear plugs or ignoring them, but you can’t solve a situation with someone spilling over to your seat without moving seats.

  3. Good for Delta for putting the family off. 

    Now, there’s one seatmate you forgot–the entitled family. They’re the one that drags more bags than are allowed on, doesn’t bother to tell their bratty kids to stop running around, makes excuses for bad behavior and screaming (ie: he’s
    “autistic”), changes the baby on the seat next to you, and just acts entitled because they’re on a “Magical” Vacation to a certain place in Orlando.

    Hence why I avoid MCO at all costs.

    And yes, I experienced all of those things by the same family on the same flight.

    1. I’m with you, Raven and alx.  We didn’t fly with our kids mostly because, well – we couldn’t afford it.  But, when we did fly with them, they were expected to “fly right”.  My teenage son is probably one of the best flyers you’ll ever meet (better than me, even) and I stand there in awe while he helps elders load their bags in the overheads, helps them find and sit in their seat…  He really is a patient young man and it astonishes me ever time we travel together.  (He’s leaving for the Air Force in 8 months and will be traveling more.  I’m glad I taught him young how to do this.)

      However, even HE gets more than a little annoyed when small kids start wreaking havoc on the plane.  This is a small space with lots of people crammed in and noise travels extremely well.

      I interviewed Patrick Dempsey a couple years ago and he told me he didn’t get his kids to Portland (Maine) as often as he and his wife would like because the twins were so young and really difficult to handle on long plane rides.  Even HE isn’t overly fond of out on control kids and parents who let them (but he didn’t say this out loud – never know when the Enquirer or a British tabloid is listening in).

    2. you ever traveled with an autistic child?  You self absorbed prima donna.  You might be talking about the parents of kids who justify anything their child does but I live in the real world, not some fantasyland you might think is preferred to where the rest of us reside. 

      About the only thing that we ‘get’ as the parents of an 18 year old autistic young man is not having to wait in line at Disneyland resorts.  We have a child who has no friends, no social life, has attempted suicide three times, has been hospitalized for anxiety, and has no real chance at what you suffer through every day in your ‘normal life.’  when I and my wife die, what happens to him?  

      How about trying, for one moment, to live in someone else’s shoes and see that sometimes, people do the best that they can with the hand they are dealt.  You know everything about everyone elses life it seems, so you can ride around on your high horse and know exactly what is going on in everyones life around you.   

      And you call THEM selfish. . . 

      1. If your kid can’t sit on a plane without screeching at the top of his lungs and throwing things the FAs, then I am allowed to take exception to his behavior.

        I don’t know if the kid is autistic. That was what the mother said when the pilot had to come back and tell her to manage her child. She had been watching a movie and playing with her laptop while this crap was going on.

        Miraculously, as soon as that happened, she was able to quiet him. 

        Hence why I put “autistic” in quotes.

        My nephew is autistic, so this behavior to me was more like bad parenting rather than the “real deal.”

  4. I agree with Raven_Altosk – entitled parents are pretty much the worst (and I say this as a father of 5 and 3-yead olds). You gotta TRY to keep the kids under control and there is NO excuse for changing on a seat next to another passenger.  In a middle seat between two parents, or an empty row in the back maybe, but never next to someone else.

    My other worst passenger isn’t the one who can’t carry on their carry-on.  They’ve hauled on a giant, unwieldy bag that they can barely get down the aisle, much less lift either up or down from the bin.  Put a couple of these together and you’ve gummed up both the boarding and de-boarding of a plane like crazy.  

    There should be a test of this at the gate, just like the sizer.  Maybe they should put the sizer on a 5′ high rack and you should be able to lift it AND make it fit into there to be allowed to carry on.

    1. I agree–if parents are clearly TRYING to calm down a crying infant, or doing their darnedest to keep the toddler behind you from kicking the back of your seat, I find that I can be shockingly patient and understanding.  In such cases the parents are demonstrating that they actually do care about the people around them!  But those parents who just ignore/excuse it are IMO the ones who should be booted off the flight (doubtless to the spontaneous applause of the remaining pax!).  And THANK YOU, Chris, for pointing out the acquired deafness of parents to their children’s decibel-levels–the overwhelming majority of parents I know have no idea how true this is, and need it spelled out for them!

      From the account Chris was given by the family in this post, it SOUNDS like they were truly trying to quiet the kiddies down… but from the crew’s reaction I can’t help wondering how wholehearted the parents’ efforts really appeared.  And who was the victim of the “hitting”?  The family doesn’t say, but it may very well have been other pax or the crew, or maybe an undercover sky-marshal–which MAY have even led to legit safety concerns.  If some wacko onboard starts getting violent up in the air, I sure don’t want the sky-marshal to be distracted by a brat who keeps punching him throughout the flight…

      1. A child “hitting” is much more out of control than I would care to be with on a plane – or anywhere.  Even if the child were only hitting her parents (and to me that goes well beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior), if they child can’t be controlled on the ground I don’t want to see what happens once up in the air.

    2. Yes !, I’ve been saying that for years, raise that sizer 5-6 feet and see how many people can handle it.  Better yet, do a mockup of a seat with overhead bin above it at every gate.

  5. Well, we need a little understanding about infant screaming and crying in the flight. Firstly, the babies are innocent and when they don’t know to talk, its their usual way of communicating. It’s better that the parents see that they try avoiding travel when the kids are in their initial stages. Also, we as people need to build the attitude of adjusting towards fellow human beings for fights and humiliation aren’t the solutions to actual problems.

    1. I knew this was coming, let me just say the “do it for the children” they are “innocent” is noting but a false emotional argument. 
      You are right, the children are not at fault here, the parents are. Parents should know whether their offspring are capable of controlling themselves for a flight. If those offspring are not capable, they should leave a flight until their children are under control or of an age when they can behave themselves. The same applies for lots of other social situations. You would not bring a infant to the opera, why would you expect you can bring them on a plane?

    2. A very sensitive and kind answer, Mr. Ahmed! I agree that noisy babies don’t deserve our anger… and every single one of us was once a noisy baby. Being more patient, tolerant, calm, and understanding seems to be the solution to having a stress-free flight. And you always board in a better mood when you’re flying free! Check out Amble Resorts’ life-changing contest for a chance to win a free trip!

  6. One of these things is not like the others!

    What is supposed to be the problem with nursing mothers? I’ve never encountered one of these being annoying on a flight.

    1. Some people are offended by the act itself, while others are shocked at the idea that a woman might expose her nipple (or just part of the breast).  There are some who find it unsanitary, while others think it’s similar to people exposing themselves.

      There are extensive state laws that protect a women’s right to breastfeed anywhere she would otherwise be allowed.  A few of these laws are specific that they aren’t required to “cover up”.

      Still – I’m not sure what laws take precedence on a plane.  For the case that was linked to, they were clearly still on the ground in Vermont.


    2. Breastfeeding is normal around the world except USA. I really don’t understand the logic… why pay attention (or stare at) to the mother and the baby. I feel hypocrite to be offended by breastfeeding. At least the baby are sure to have his milk in any today bad travel scenario like tarmac delay, etc…

    3. Boobs are there to produce milk for children – anything else is icing on the cake assuming its seen that way by both parties.  A woman wants to breastfeed?  Who cares?  Its a boob for gosh sakes, we all have them, have seen them, know what they are and probably have nursed from one.   Whats it matter that a mother needs to feed their child? The babies just cry louder when they are hungry.  Imagine how bad you have to feel to want to cry from hunger – then imagine feeling like that 6-8 times a day.  No wonder they are cranky all the time!

  7. What?  Not even a mention of the passenger that not only seems to have consumption but is such a dolt that s/he doesn’t have the decency to cover his or her cough as they hack up the better part of a lung?  Or sneeze with such force that people three rows in front have their hairdo disturbed? 

  8. I was on a flight from Chicago last week where I endured not one, but two screaming babies, small children screeching, a lapdog barking under the seat next to me, and a couple so dearly in love that they ignored the dog and petted and cooed nonstop.  

    This is really a matter of courtesy, people.  Please use some.

  9. I try(not always successfully) to live by following this rule. As soon as I am perfect, I will complain about others.

    I will usually make allowances for behaviour that people have no control over such as a crying baby or an overweight person. I am less likely to make allowances for people who will not turn off electroincs or are rude to others.

    1. Overweight people do have control of their weight… they just choose not to do anything about it!!! (There are a very very few exceptions)

      1. If you can figure out a way for someone to lose enough weight to satisfy you as they are boarding an airplane you will be a billionaire. Until that time people are the weight they are when they fly, that cannot be controlled.

        1. Don’t let them fly.  an extremely small percentage of fat people have medical reasons.  Most are too lazy to eat right or exercise.  I know because I was like that for ten years.  it’s simply lazy.

          1. One thing I like about the internet is that people can express themselves freely. One thing I hate about the internet is that people can express themselves freely.

    2. Bill, you’re right on.  We’ve traveled with our daughter since she was an infant (3-mos) and sometimes she was a complete pain.  One flight to from PHX to MSY she was inconsolable, and our seatmate got up, got some ice cubes, crushed them up and gave them to her.  Magic!

      The point is, someone with experience or suggestions can help the mortified parents, or at least offer.  Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, so any (constructive) suggestion from someone who has “been there, done that” is certainly welcome!

    3. But when you are too large for 1 seat (not necessarily overweight – I have a friend who is an ex pro-football player who is BROAD!), you know it is rude to impose on the other seatmates, so just buy 2 seats and avoid the problem. 

  10. This column brought back memories; two of which remain indelibly imprinted in my memory:
    1. I was seated at the window of a flight from NY to Milan with an empty seat between me and the woman seated in the aisle seat.  A young man with a neat, well-pressed, satin shirt came to occupy the middle seat.  He smelled awful… not the body odor of a rushed day, but of many days without bathing.  I envisioned going to the toilet and dousing paper towels with the colognes that were available years ago and spending the next 7 hours holding them as a mask. 
    Mercifully there was a discussion between the woman at the end and the stewardess in Italian (which I don’t understand), but the smelly guy changed seats with the woman’s young child who was seated in another aisle.  Sometime you luck out.
    2.  I had a friend who hated talkative seatmates and finally came upon a solution which he said invariably works.  Early in these seat-to-seat conversations comes the topic of “what do you do?”
    His answer was, “I’m in the funeral business… not embalming… I sell the cosmetics, fillers, and surface treatments to make the dead look nice at the funeral… put a smile on their face and hide the decomposition of the flesh.”  He claims this ended all further conversations. 

    1. I have had a similar experience with horrible smells.  It was a combination nightmare.  Self-entitled morbidly obese parents with 4 children, a larger than normal lap child who the mother proceeded to change in the seat–directly across the aisle from me.   The flight attendant kept walking down the aisle spraying room freshener, which caused me to have a mild asthma attack. 

      Anyway, the passenger next to me brought out some lightly scented hand moisturizer and told me to dab some under my nose.  It helped a lot.  I have heard that Vick’s vapo-rub works, too. 

  11. I can usually block out screaming babies or barking animals.  Besides, in the low-pressure cabin sounds are weaker.  Gadget guys and bedbugs are filed under the “exaggerated” category.  Although I always follow the rules about electronic devices, I don’t think they can seriously disrupt the plane’s controls.  Breastfeeding moms — who cares?  Just look the other way…

    There is nowhere to go if you are seated next to a fatso.  A smelly adult comes in close second.  A chatty one is OK: I have nothing against a friendly discussion on politics or religion.

    1. As far as non-stop talkers, there is a way to shut them up – casually ask what they do for a living – get that out of the way.  Naturally they will ask you what your occupation is – my answer when I want to “stop the music” –  I’m an auditor with the I.R.S. – what company did you say you worked for ?

  12. Although I voted for the screaming baby, my biggest annoyance is the aisle hogger…whether it be just a lack of awareness as to what the hogger is doing to the loading process, or the oversized “carry on” that is almost impossiblle to get into the overhead bin, therefore letting everyone behind just wait while they struggle…..and, one more annoyance….the early boarder who puts his (never seen a her do this) in a bin towards the front of the plane, and then continue on towards the rear….I vote for having the flight crew take this luggage and put it in the checked baggage causing the guilty party to wait for it at the carousel…

  13. When did it become impossible for people to get up out of their seat WITHOUT yanking on the seat in front of them? It’s just like getting up out of a chair people…..use your armrests to push yourself up, don’t use my seat to PULL yourself up. Hate that.

  14. I have taken a six-hour flight next to a passenger with disgusting body odor and even worse-smelling breath, and it was a truly miserable experience.  I wish I could have held my nose the entire flight. 

    Screaming babies are so common on airplanes that I have learned to tune them out just like the parents do: I’d say there are babies screaming on about half of all flights.  Older children screaming and fighting are rarer but far worse – a couple of loud quarrelsome children who seemed to be about 8 and 10 tormented me on one flight.

    Why on earth would a nursing mother be an annoying seatmate?  Nursing mothers do not belong on the list.  After all, nursing is probably the best way to get that baby to stop screaming.

    1. My only complaint with a nursing mother was one seated next to me with an oversized “lap child” who she fed during the flight. The problem? The kid was so large, his legs fell into my lap and the inconsiderate woman didn’t do anything about it. She could’ve turned the kid the other way, but she didn’t.

      Side note…I’m not sure why she was breastfeeding a kid who was at least 2 years old either…but…(definitely too old to be a lap child at least!)

  15. Common courtesy has gone the way of the dodo bird. Everyone needs to get used to that. The only way to avoid the issues Chris described is to drive to your destination whenever humanly possible. My sister, bro-in-law and niece drove round-trip between CT and FL for the holidays because the flying/airport experience has become so horrendous (and predictable!), they simply wanted no part of it. I know, I know…not everyone has the luxury of time, but driving is the only way to avoid crying babies and smelly, obnoxious and obese passengers. In 2012, the “golden age of travel” means gassing up the car and hitting the road.

  16. Honestly, the one that pisses me off the most?  The Seat Hogs. These are the passengers – generally male, but on rare occasions female – who willfully spread beyond the boundaries of their seat. 

    I can’t count the times I’ve sat next to an obvious businessman of average size who sits in his seat and spreads his legs wide, or rests one ankle on the opposite knee.  Because obviously he needs to give what is in between his legs – a portion of his anatomy that he feels is large and of magnificent splendor – plenty of room to breathe.  When you ask politely if he could sit more normally, he will glare at you as if you asked to remove that part of his anatomy. This is if you can get his attention from the actual print newspaper he is reading as if he is at his kitchen table – spread wide open using both hands, instead of having it folded back.  (At least the spread of smart-phones and tablets has made that less frequent, but I’ve still seen it.)

    Of course, there was the memorable red-eye from SFO to MSP for me, when the young woman in the middle seat – who couldn’t have been more than 110 lbs soaking wet – immediately dropped into what appeared to be a narcoleptic sleep after takeoff.  And then angled herself to use me – against the window – as a pillow, and stretched her legs into the well of the woman in the aisle seat.  Neither of us could wake her (or at least break through her pretend sleep, still not sure) and the FA’s didn’t appear to care.

    There’s just so little common courtesy on planes anymore

    1. That is my number one complaint as well.  I seem to fly next to people like this almost every week!  A few weeks ago one guy kicked me in the shin as he crossed his legs, and I said “excuse me” very loudly and got a long glare from him.  I stated, “You kicked me in the shin.” He then said, “You were in my way” and went back to reading his pink newspaper. 
      These people also seem to always elbow me in the side the entire flight.  Whenever I sit next to these people and try to ask for some of my space back, they simply ignore me as if I don’t even exist.  I give this type of person the #1 worst seatmates rating.  I would prefer the screaming baby or large person who is at least polite.
      Actually, in all my years of flying, I have learned to tune out the screaming babies, but the entitled families who demand extra space and complain constantly are pretty annoying.  I have found many families handle their children very well.

      1. Oh, on one of my dreaded MCO flights, a woman was actually throwing a fit because the restroom’s changing table was so small.

        HELLO YOU ARE ON A PLANE! You’re lucky it had a changing table at all!!!

        1. I am so glad I don’t fly to MCO any more, I had to weekly for 4 months, and it was horrible!!!!  When I said most people handle their children well, I am referring to people not on their way to MCO J  Okay, there were some good ones too.  But I agree, never change the diaper on the seat.  Please!!!  NEVER!!!
          Seriously, who would complain about the size of a changing table on a plane, when they just traveled 1,500 miles in under 4 hours for $250!  (I don’t know what flight you were on, so I just made up the numbers).  It still amazes me that I can get from LAX to JFK in just over 5 hours!  Yet people still complain and make things difficult and act all entitled.

          1. I had to fly to MCO weekly (a few times bi-weekly) for almost a year.

            The Magical Vacation Crowd are the worst offenders of all of the annoyances of flying. Maybe their common sense and common courtesy goes on vacation before they physically get there, but whatever it is…I learned to pity the FAs on those flights.

            I remember one where a woman walked up into First with her screaming baby, told a guy to “move” and then started to change the baby on the seat he had just occupied. Everyone was aghast.

            And when questioned why she did that? Well, the bev cart was in the aisle, and she needed a larger seat to change the kid on!!!

            Why not wait to go on a Magically Overpriced Lame Vacation until your kids are old enough to enjoy it?!?

            And don’t get me started on the “special needs” PAX on that route…sat next to a family in first whose “autistic” child SCREECHED from the moment he boarded until the moment we deplaned. 

            Nothing would quiet this kid and the mother just kept saying, “It’s not my fault! He is special!”

            Drugs, lady.

            …and that’s not the worst…

          2. Why is “autistic” in quotes? If the child has autism spectrum disorder than he is autistic.  It isn’t a label that anyone wants voluntarily.  It isn’t pretend or made up.  

            So, people with autism are not allowed to travel? Oh wait, we’re supposed to drug them… Would you like to try to get my autistic child to take a pill so you don’t have to listen to him?  You think he’s screeching now… just you wait.  

            Families of children with disabilities (or as you so nicely put it “special needs”) deserve to be able to travel as well. You’d better be careful sir, your ignorance is showing.

          3. Should I have endure screeching for four hours? NO.

            Travel with your kid, but be considerate of others. 

            My ignorance isn’t showing, but your entitlement to thrust your ill-mannered kid (whatever his/her problem is) in my face on a tiny tube sure is, crazy lady.

            And, if a pill won’t work, try an injection. I don’t care, just shut the kid up.

          4. I’m thinking the child wasn’t really “Autistic”.  My wife works with Autistic children and said it’s unlikely that any spectrum of the condition would result in a child screaming for the entire flight.  She also said there is a whole slew of entitled rich parents who say their children are “Autistic” to try and get special treatment when they really are not.  If the child was truly Autistic, the parent would and child would have gone through therapy and training to help control any situations that may arise.  If the parent keeps saying the child is special and using it as an excuse to justify poor behavior, they are simply a bad parent.  And maybe the child is really Autistic?  If so, they should be spending their money on behavioral therapy, not going to the magical world of crap.  Again, if they can’t afford therapy, how can they afford Disneyland?  I also don’t think an autistic child will get much out of that place as well, if it doesn’t scare them into a coma.  Sorry if I sound harsh.  But someone with a real condition learns to manage it.
            Yes there are always some cases where even a good parent has a child that cries, and they try what they can to calm them.  I don’t think this was one of those cases.  And sadly on MCO bound flights, the majority of parents are of the rich entitled my child can do whatever they want type.  It’s horrible. 
            One time I was waiting to board and they called First Class.  I was fortunate to have been upgraded.  A Mom, Dad, and 2 kids ran up with 6 bags, the mom jumped the gate, and started yelling at the gate agent that parents with children are supposed to bored first.  The gate agent said they can board with Zone 2, after First class and Elites.  Then mom said, but my children are special needs.  The gate agent said he was sorry, that’s the policy.  Mom started screaming and yelling that parents always get to board first.  Finally she threw the boarding passes at the gate agent and pushed him, then boarded herself.  The agent conversed with another employee and sadly decided to let it go and then they began boarding.  I really think that family should have been kicked off and arrested.

          5. I have seen PAX denied boarding for less.  Where was the supervisory staff?  There is a great likelihood for an angry person like this woman to cause problems during flight.  Neither the PAX nor the crew can afford to have anyone go ballistic on board.  The airline owes it to the rest of us and should not wait for one of us to complain.  In this incident, an airline employee was assaulted.  The police should have been called and charges pressed.  We would all admire the airline more for standing up to belligerent people and for its employees. 

          6. Exactly. My nephew is autistic. This kid was just out of control. The pilot had to come back and fuss at the mother when the kid threw his orange juice at the FA during the flight.

            I’m honestly surprised they were not deboarded. But then the question arises…how would the media spin it? Airline Protects Pax from Unruly Child? No. Once again, the rest of us are made to suffer because of a protected class.

            And Emanon, those are probably the same parents who, on their Magical Vacation, go get special passes for their special kids thinking they can “cut” the lines. When they are informed it is not a cut the line pass, they throw a fit.

            Seen those at Di$ney so many times…

    2. LOL, as a man, I am aware of this on planes. My rule of thumb is to not let me knees go past the arm rests of the chair in front of me. The only time I have gone past the arm rests is when I start to doze off, but I catch myself. It isn’t so much “the junk” as my reason, but more has to do with my thighs. I am a sprinter and have huge thighs

      1. Heh – that’s not a problem.  My husband is an ex-hammer thrower, so same problem. 😉  And I don’t count men with unusually broad shoulders either – some problems of anatomy can come even when you aren’t overweight, considering the cramped nature of economy flight.

        You make an effort to contain yourself.  It’s those who seem to think that seatmates are a mere nuisance that can be ignored or pushed out of the way (like the ones emanon256 mentions) that annoy.

        1. I agree, Daniel is a courteous seatmate. I’ve sat next to many big muscular people who are polite and contain themselves.  It’s usually the smaller ones and usually the business looking white men that spread out way too far and ignore everyone around them.  And as of late, I seem to be flying with mostly white business men.  No offence to nice white business men.

  17. Screaming children annoy me, but seat-kickers are worse. A parent can put a stop to that. Gadget heads who think it’s their god-given right to carry on the never-ending conversation are at the top of my list, and second are those who drag their 80-pound bag from the overhead and just let it drop, never paying the slightest bit of attention to my HEAD six inches below. I’ve had to do the duck-and-cover routine more than once, and I’m only 5’5.

  18. I think the main idea here is to put courtesy and manners back in our lives.  Somewhere along the line they were lost. 
    Don’t abuse the system and “be nice to others”.

  19. The smelly or chatty adult are the worsts to me. Last year on flight 112 YVR to YUL, I encountered a old white hair talkative guy who speak loudly that I heard, from 5 rows away, trying to impress a girl. I never seen a human being who can talk 7 hours in a row, 2 hours in the Maple Leaf lounge and 5 hours on the plane. I think he got excited being upgrade to Executive Class.

  20. There are parents that prepare their kids for a trip on an airplane, bring enough things to amuse them, use a car seat for those that need them (which makes the kids more comfortable and more likely to fall asleep!) and take responsibility for their children.

    My kids have traveled on more flights than most of their peers (10yo – 9 round trips & 6yo – 2 round trips) and they always fly with a backpack full of things for them to do. When our family of four flies we generally only have one bag each (no overpacking the overhead compartment) and maybe one rolling carryon.

    Due to my Disney obsession, and my ILs living locally in Orlando…we often fly from PHL to MCO and I can’t even begin to count the number of times we’ve observed parents flying with lap children…. and have NOTHING with them to amuse their kids. One trip I took pity on a mom w/ a squirmy almost 2yo and handed over some board books we had packed for our daughter. She wasn’t using them since she fell asleep in her car seat before take off! 🙂

    So don’t automatically roll your eyes if you see a family with kids on the plane. There are those of us that do the right thing.

    (Oh and my pet peeve is a toss up between the smelly or oversized passenger…both have you trapped and make you miserable!)

    1. Yes – don’t blame the kids, blame the parents.  I’ve flown with great parents such as yourself, and NEVEr a complaint about thier kids — then I flew with one who “darling” kept kicking the back of my seat — when I asked her to please have him stop, she told me he was a little person who had to learn to make his own decisions in life.  HUH???   I told her last time I looked, he wasn’t a leprechaun, but I did think SHE was supposed to be a parent, so act like it, or take my seat and endure the brat.  The FA told her she would have to control him or they would be moved.  ONLY THEN did he behave. 

  21. A couple of my biggest annoyances with my fellow passengers are those that a coughing and sneezing without regard for those around them… and those who are seated in front of me and decide to recline their seat as far as it can go. I’m 6’2″ and my knees are already pressed into the back of the seats in front of me so imagine my surprise as the seat starts coming towards me even more. Never mind trying to use a laptop in that situation…

  22. My personal pet peeve isn’t listed. It’s the person that can’t lift their own carry-on that is also oversize (no chance of it fitting under the seat). They then look around and just expect someone else to lift it into the overhead for them while they hold up the boarding process. Since FAs won’t do it anymore due to injury, some poor customer gets stuck doing it.
    Here’ my rule with my kids… If you can’t lift it on your own, you packed too much and need to take something out. If the bag is too big, get a smaller one.
    FYI … Also the father of three kids (4,4 & 9) and inattentive parents are my #2. My kids have flown a lot but we come dangerously close to pet peeve #1 taking all of the stuff to keep them entertained. Sorry parents it’s your job to control and entertain your children not the rest of the world.

    1. The following commercial doesn’t quite show where Verne Troyer (aka Mini Me from the Austin Powers movies) stores his rolling luggage.  When they cut away to him pulling out his laptop, they don’t have a shot that indicates if it was supposed to be under the seat in front or from the overhead bin.

      Maybe he asked Yao Ming to put it up for him.


    2. I just flew back from SE Asia via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific 777s. It’s still usual and customary in Asia to help little (short) women and older passengers lift their luggage to the overhead bins. They simply can’t reach them. And the CX FA’s are so thin and tiny also. So me and my sons just always do it. It helps to make good neighbors.

  23. I too would have voted for the oversized XL people as being the biggest annoyance, but being an elite airline program member, I usually get upgraded and avoid the oversized invading my space.  The screaming baby in first or coach is always an annoyance!

    1. Nice restaurants have age limits… why can’t first class?  Some of us don’t fly first class regularly, and purchase first class tickets for a “once in a lifetime” trip.  You shouldn’t have to deal with screaming babies/children in first class… IMHO.

      1. I agree with you Erica.  I actually had to deal with a kid kicking my seat in 1st class but couldn’t say much since they bought the ticket and mine was a comp.

  24. My least favorite was the guy who had his crotch literally in my face for 5 minutes while he repacked his suitcase that happened to be in the bin above my head.  Seriously- save it for the TSA!  

    1. Or Mr, dont you know I’m a (fill in the blank) elite. I am an elite and want to choke those guys half the time!

      Personal favorite was the guy who thought it was ok to cut in line since he was an elite. Just one too obnoxious to realize he was cutting the elite line!

      1. But he won’t cut my line – I’m going to say something loud and clear like “there are other passengers ahead of you, please get behind them” …..but then again we come back to my previous comments about how most people cannot be shamed or embarrassed – even if they were standing nude in Macy’s window !!

  25. Chris, I am a big fan of your column, but you are completely wrong  on the feeding issue.  Unless YOUR face is pressed into my breast, you’re not going to see it whether or not I am actively feeding my child.  It’s how babies eat.  It’s how they are calmed from being the screaming infant.  Your fear that you *might* catch a glimpse if you’re staring itnently at my breasts and invding my personal space and privacy is a reflection of your own discomfort and in no way makes a nursing mother an “annoying passenger.”  

    1. What about the idiot woman who was feeding her (too big to be a younger than 2 year old lap child) that put the kid’s legs in my lap?!?!?

      That’s just damn rude.

      1. I’ll agree that’s rude. No one, even a kid, should have their body in your seat. However, the issue isn’t breastfeeding per se, but the woman’s rudeness.  Did you ask her to move the kids feet or say excuse me? If you did and she didn’t move them, she’s truly a horrible person.  If you didn’t, well, why not?

        1. I gave the stink eye. Then I asked her to please move the child off my lap. I was called a “child hater.” Ah, one of those…if you don’t want their kid as the center of YOUR universe, you’re evil.

          I got up and asked an FA for help. The mother loudly told the FA she had a RIGHT to feed her child and it wasn’t HER fault that the seats didn’t accomodate this RIGHT.

          The FA gave me a few free drinks, but I still had oversized kid ass in my face for the four hours of the flight.

          1. That’s a rude person seat encroaching issue.  Not a feeding mom issue.  Your single experience is not the norm. 

            Bad for you, yes.  Regretable, yes.  But not representative of every breastfeeding mother. 

          2. I never said it was representative of every breastfeeding mother. If you see my comment above to Summer, you’ll realize I was singling out that case because of the RUDENESS.

          3. And yes, I’ve been seated next to too large to be lap children who encroached into my seat as well.  Most recently on an 8 hour flight where the mother let the child sleep draped over both arm rests. 

            Honestly, I think the answer to that is to fly Southwest.  That way you can choose to not sit next to a child. 

            Personally, I believe in the One Passenger, One Seat rule for all, but that’s a different issue.

  26. “The breastfeeding mom. I think most of us would be lying if we said we didn’t experience at least some level of discomfort at being seated next to a nursing mom. It’s not necessarily her baby, which we fear could projectile-burp the contents of its stomach on us, but the fact that she’ll probably expose herself at some point during the flight. There have been incidents involving breastfeeding moms, including one lawsuit against Delta by a mother who was kicked off a Delta flight a few years ago (sound familiar?).”
    Seriously?  They’re just boobs!  Half the population has them.  I don’t understand why so many people are so threatened by them.  You don’t see the same irrational objection to elbows, wrists or noses even though these are all regularly occurring body parts that one sees throughout the day.  Why the big fear of other body parts.

    1. There are in fact state laws that protect the right of a woman to breastfeed in any place that is otherwise open to the public or where she would normall be allowed to be if she weren’t breastfeeding.  Some of these laws specifically state that exposing the breast or nipple is specifically allowed.

      I’m not sure what rules are in place when one is in the sky.  The state laws should take precedence until the plane is in the air.

      Some airlines have policies on what to do in case someone complains. The ones I saw mention that the flight attendants should try and relocate a passenger who is offended.

      1. “The state laws should take precedence until the plane is in the air.”

        Flight attendants can’t be expected to know the breastfeeding laws of all 50 states.  That’s why state liquor laws don’t apply to aircraft operations.

    2. I know!

      Honestly, the bottle fed child is the one more likely to spit up all over you.  Is that any better?  Do you think, oh, that baby vomit is formula, not milk. Phew!  I think not.

      And the statement “she’ll PROBABLY expose herself at some point during the flight.”  Really? When’s the last time Chris actually saw something like that?  I’m gonna guess.. never.  I mean come on, it is really really unlikely.  99% of the time you’ll never know that a mother is feeding her child unless you look really really close (or have the child’s legs draped over your lap.). 

    3. Yeah, when that happens, I usually whip out my cellphone camera and aim it in her direction.  That usually gets her to cover up faster than anything.  I don’t see what the big deal is – if she’s willing to expose herself to all the other passengers on the flight . . . .

      1. You might actually be the passenger I’d really hate to have to sit next to on a long flight. Someone with no sense of social norms or boundaries, stuck next to me for hours. Yuck!

  27. My least favorite:  the (so-called) elite traveler who’s ticked off that he/she couldn’t get into first class and believes that the world owes him/her something for it.  I can deal with a hissy-fitting kid who has no control over his/her emotions; what I can’t deal with is a hissy-fitting adult.

    1. You must have been in earshot of Mr. xxxx who told me I was a *%$# (posterior orifice) because he insisted he was already upgraded to F class when he was checking in – He definitely WAS NOT in F class.   I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I didn’t appreciate it.  He actually denied it right to my face.  I googled him online and found out he was some corrupt multi-millionaire lawyer, politician once associated with that Blagdonovich guy in Chicago.  Turns out this name-caller served nine months under house arrest and was disbarred as an attorney.  Nice. P.S….oops, sorry, somehow he was overlooked on that upgrade list — never got it on his cheap $89 fare !

  28. The person I like the least is the one who feels they need–or even that it’s okay–to pull down on the seat in front of them as they get into their seat.  Most of the people who do this could safely get into their seat without pulling on ANY seat. But, if you are going to do it, use YOUR OWN seat as a handrail, not the seat of the person in front of you.

    I’d rather sit between a screaming child and an overweight, breastfeeding mother who talks to me the entire flight than sit in front of this person.

    Second worst: everyone who brings their full-sized suitcases onto the plane. For me, the overhead is for my carry-on. The space under the seat in front of me is for my legs. And, no, I’m not going to move my carry-on so you can put your suitcase in the overhead.

    1. I loathe the seat pullers as well.  Because I have long hair.  Which they frequently pull.  And it’s not like I wear my hair loose when I fly – I always keep it in a neat bun or braid.

  29. Well, I will say that keeping a positive attitude helps me a lot with the noisy kids issue. If you start scowling at the first bad sign, the situation seems more likely to escalate.  I have had two or three genuinely bad kid experiences in all my years of flying, but I’ve had about 50 times that number of experiences with kids who I barely noticed, kids who were cranky at takeoff and then settled down, and kids who got rambunctious mid-flight but were calmed by their parents.  The worst kid experience I had was on a transaltantic flight with a little girl traveling with her grandma who thought she was just the most adorable thing ever, and couldn’t understand why other passengers weren’t charmed as well. 

  30. I guess that I object everybody on a flight. Therefore it is time to turn in my wings and stay home. Or I could try business and first class, but the rich and stupid believe that their kids have the right to riot there too. Better yet, I can bring my neighbors rat of a kid, gain 50 pounds, smell up the joint, and agrivate everybody else.

  31. My experience with unruly children has been to the lack of handling by the parents.  I am not sure what the picture of the family asked off the flight is suppose to show, but for an airline to lose money and turn back a flight and deplane this family, the behavior of all of them must have been disgustingly bad.

    Those uncomfortable with breastfeeding on a plane probably are the ones that will buy Playboy or watch x rated movies and are jealous of that infant on its mother’s breast and have tried to be members of the mile high club.  Just a guess.

  32. Oh God, where do I begin ??…..There are several types of passengers who are most annoying just at the check-in process.

    1.  Spouses or boyfriend/girlfriend who are not on the same page when checking in.   Everything has to be repeated twice as though one or the other serves as interpreter because the other is not listening to the check-in agent.  Also there is always one of the couple who is the complete control freak – bossy, demanding, obnoxious and usually embarassing for the other one who slinks back in horror.
    2.  Parents who expect the same attention they get at the doctor’s office – every nuance, every issue asked about to the point of wanting to run away screaming.  I recently had a mother who was irritated about the way I put the bagtag on, didn’t like the seats they had (even though together), wanted economy plus with no status, premier bagtags with no status, etc. etc.   It got so bad that I finally told her not to take her bad mood out on me. 
    Guess what ?….if you can’t handle your 2, 3 and 4 year old swirling around you, then don’t travel to grandma’s during the holiday – while her husband stands by like a jerk and says/does nothing to help. 
    3.  Greeting a passenger who comes up to your podium and they totally ignore you.  No greeting, no smile, nothing and then get annoyed because they can’t negotiate a simple check-in on the kiosk and demand in a nasty way that you help them….ask a question to find out what they need – I’ve actually gotten the response “How would I know, that’s what YOU should know!!”.
    Really, how could I know what you need if you can’t even tell me what flight you are on – time/ destination ???
    4.  Back to parents who let their kids tantrum, scream, run around on or around the scale while at the same time trying to put their bags on the scale.  The kid is in your way, don’t you see that ??
    Get some kind of control over your three year old !    Absoulutely true story about a mother (again husband standing by idly staring into space) who started to nurse her overgrown fidgety three year old right at the ticket counter.   The other passengers coiled in horror at watching this…..We had a good laugh afterwards but this was really over the top.   
    4.  Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – I hate my job, shouldn’t be in customer service, etc.  but I don’t hate my job, I’m not in a bad mood and I’ve done alot of good for customers in over 25 years.  Unfortunately we live now live in a world of entitlement, no shame, no embarassment, anything goes.  When I was a kid my parents had enought sense to stay home until we were old enough to handle social settings.  They disciplined with caring and love, I was very lucky.  Too bad we can’t say the same for most young parents today.  Rant over. 

    1. Well said. I really felt bad for an FA on a flight last week who had the “pleasure” of dealing with a very obnoxious Hassidic family. They were seated mostly together except for the mother and a daughter, who had to share their row with a guy on the ailse. The mother started making a stink that they should not possibly sit next to a MAN. The mFA asked the man to swap seats with a woman, but of course the only woman who volunteered to move was in a middle. The guy wasn’t giving up his aisle for a middle. The mother was going crazy, yelling at the guy and FA until one of the pilots came back and told her the flight was full and she could either deboard or we could be on our way. She sat there the whole time loudly discussing with her husband in the row ahead (with their sons) how they were being “discriminated” against.

      If you can’t handle sitting next to a member of the opposite sex, fly charter!!! Sheesh.

        1. I have no idea. I was fortunate enough to be in the exit row a few rows behind.

          I’m sure there was a “religious” reason there, too.

        2. I didn’t hear any explanation except that it was just one of the daughters.  Who knows what their thinking is.

          The Hasidic are considered part of the ultra-orthodox.  There has been quite a bit of controversy in certain Israeli towns about attacks against women (even young girls) who they’ve considered dressed immodestly.  They certainly have a cultural norm that’s very different than the rest of the world and most of the followers of Judaism.

          1. Oh, I have a friend who converted to Judaisim a few years ago and decided – without prompting from anyone – to enter into an ultra conservative lifestyle, only one small step below Hasidic Jews.  So I actually understand why they would not have wanted to sit next to a strange man.

            But if there were multiple sons, I would think they could rearrange themselves so the women could sit next to men in their family, which would be less objectionable than a stranger.

  33. I’ve sat next to some gross, smelly, and/or overweight people and seen them eat all manner of nasty things, but never once in my life have I been grossed out by a woman breastfeeding. I’d much rather have a baby (even a screaming one) next to me or a nursing mom than some person that spills into my seat. Or someone who eats rank smelling day-old fish (that’s happened to me).  
    Saying you object to a nursing mom means you also object to people eating near you and the people serving food as well. Because essentially, it’s exactly the same thing.As someone who purports to have children, I can’t believe you would lump nursing mothers into the same category as smelly or rude adults. It’s insensitive and nasty. And by the way, I don’t even have kids, so I’m not flying some banner for the cause. 

  34. I once spent nine hours on a bus from interior Guatemala to rural Chiapas, Mexico, with goats and chickens as fellow passengers. I really could not care less who sits next to me on a plane.

  35. None of the above annoys me the most.  What annoys me the most is the inconsiderate seat recliner.  They bash back without warning or looking to ensure that you are ready, and never bring the seat up when meals are served.

  36. i don’t see how nursing a baby fits in this list.  everyone else is being inconsiderate (except for the overweight guy, who is still infringing on the rights of those who sit next to him) but she is just feeding her child.  this isn’t a problem with her so much as a problem with the other passenger’s attitude about breasts!

    ETA: i just read the article about the Delta passenger. she was not kicked off for breastfeeding but for refusing to cover up with a blanket offered by an attendant. in this case i do believe the mom was being inconsiderate – covering would not have inconvenienced her in any way.

    1. I think it all depends on the mother and the baby.  Some babies might find it unusual to be covered up.  Once a baby starts feeding it won’t take much to disrupt said baby at which point it could turn into a crying fest.  Some mothers want to be able see the baby feed.  I’ve heard of cases where the mother declined a cover because it was extremely hot in the cabin.

      Most state laws these days allow a woman to breastfeed any place she would otherwise be allowed.  Some of these laws (Illinois and Nevada for example) explicitly state that exposing a nipple is allowed while others imply as such by declaring that display of skin that is incidental to breastfeeding isn’t a lewd or indecent act.  Laws on indecent exposure often include language that specifically excludes breastfeeding.  I only noticed a few states that allows a mother to breastfeed anywhere, but requires “discretion”.


      Airlines probably operate in a legal twilight zone where state law might apply when they’re on the ground, but where the flight crew gets to decide what is or isn’t appropriate in the air.  Here’s an interesting compilation that someone got from a combination of official policy and inquiries made to individual airlines:


  37. I was on a flight with a screaming four year old.  At first, I thought he was scared and I felt sorry for him, but as the flight wore on, I realized he was happy as a clam when he could stand on his seat. but started howling like a banshee when they wanted him to wear his seat belt.  They eventually just landed without him buckled in. If we’d have hit some turbulence and that little snot-nose went flying, I wouldn’t have felt sorry for him.

    The most disgusting thing that’s ever happened to me on a plane was when a seat-mate “borrowed” my earbuds when I dozed off, and then, when I awoke, she tried to give them back.  Did I mention these were the in-the-ear type earbuds?  I wanted to puke.  Read the whole story at flightsfromhell.com.  The story is titled, “Enraged by Earbuds”.

  38. It was a toss-up between the screaming infant and the XL passenger until it occurred to me that I could possibly help the parent mitigate the screaming kid, but had no way to get a quick 60 lbs. off the big ‘un. The nose ultimately adjusts, at least somewhat, to odors and earbuds+ iPad take care of the talkers and Gadget Man. I’d be indifferent to the breastfeeding and would see if I could somehow interact with the dog to distract if from barking, with the owners cooperation, of course.

    Actually, the most annoying thing I’ve dealt with in the past year or so was at the beginning of an 11 hour flight home with a 5 year old sitting behind me who repeatedly kicked the back of my seat, hard, at random intervals, but generally just as I’d started to fall asleep. Requests to the accompanying adult and dirty looks availed not. My seatmate, may blessings be upon her, finally turned and, in a firm voice, made the request again in the same language as the offender. Problem solved at last.

  39. Breastfeeding is NO big deal!!! Oversize passengers… TERRIBLE!
    AND.. the ones that wear perfume! People please STOP spraying that
    ‘stuff’ on when you get on a flight!

  40. A few suggestions… 1) Carry earplugs to insulate yourself from loudmouths and screaming babies, 2) Carry a couple of cough drops for your fellow passengers, 3) Carry a small container of Vicks VapoRub for dabbing under your nose when sitting near a stinker, 4) Carry one of those little gadgets you can pop on the seat in front of yours to keep it from declining, and 5) Never, EVER let a fatty raise the armrest between your seats. All is lost once that fat invades your space.

    Should you have to do all these things? No, but do them anyway. You’ll have a much better flight!

  41. I have another category for bad flyers.  Parents in First, Kids in Coach. 

    My wife reminded me of a trip to Hawaii where a Mom and Dad were in first class across the aisle from us, and they had a 7 and 10 year old in coach.  The whole trip the kids kept running up to first and whining and complaining about being board, kicking seats as they walked around, standing in the aisles blocking the video screen.  Mom and dad kept getting up to bring them food, and the kids kept going back and forth with laptops, games, etc.  The flight attendant must have told them a dozen times they can’t stand in the aisle and must remain in their own cabin, but it never stopped them. Mom also grabbed all of the cookies off the tray and took them back to the kids and there weren’t enough for everyone in First.

    Then on another Hawaii flight, there was a Mom and Dad and two kids in first in the row in front of us and the row across, and their nanny was in coach.  The nanny came up to first after the seat belt sign went off, and stayed in the aisle doing things for the kids.  Again the crew kept telling her to stay out of the aisle.  Then the nanny took the seat in front of us with the two kids in another seat.  The FA told her that there is only one passenger allowed per seat and that someone must leave.  The parents got mad and made a scene.  The captain came out and told the parents if the nanny didn’t return he would have to divert the flight, and have them arrested.  The nanny returned to coach for an hour or two then came back and it started all over again.  At one point, the nanny threw a backpack over the back of the seat knocking my wife’s drink all over her.  The flight attendants got involved again and tried to remove the Nanny back to coach.  Later my wife and I each received a letter of apology and $350 vouchers from United as the FA and or Captain had filed a formal incident over the situation.  I hope that family was banned from flying for life.

  42. Has anyone mentioned the inconsiderate people who refuse to return their chairs to the upright position during meals when requested by the FAs to do so?  I call them “the recliners.”  They are a pet peeve of mine.  There have been times when there was no room for me to lower the tray and others when I have had to eat the meal with the tray pressed uncomfortably against my body. 
    There is another inconvenience I have suffered because of the recliners.  On some airlines the FAs follow the rules to the letter and will not allow purses to be held on our laps during takeoff.  Purses must be stowed under the seat in front of us.  Once we are airborne, due to the recliners I have not been able to retrieve my purse.   
    This sort of thing has happened to me on every class of seating on the plane.  Loath as I am to instigate any unpleasantness by speaking up, I remain silent, seething all the while. Not good. 

  43. I’d say that nursing mother is pretty much the direct opposite of the screaming infant.  Just like adults changes in air pressure cause ear problems.  For adults they reccomend chewing gum.  For kids the same applies except a newborn doesn’t chew gum.  For breastfed kids they don’t usually take to bottles or anything else.  One of my kids stubbornly refused bottles and never drank much from them and was vocally unhappy whenever it was tried.  

    Personally the lapdogs get me because they don’t actually sit on a lap, they are usually stuffed under a stranger’s seat.  

  44. There are some of these issues that I have not yet encountered (and hope not to!) so I had to tick the “most annoying I had encountered”.

    Good to see an airline actually kick a family off who has bad kids.  They should do that a LOT more often.

  45. I experienced the family from hell recently on a flight back from Orlando (I know, what else would I expect?) on Southwest. The parents were your typical self-absorbed, oblivious nitwits with three small children they couldn’t handle. The two older kids were plenty old enough to be expected to listen to their parents, but instead I got to listen to them screeching and carrying on throughout most of the flight. They kept standing up in their seats and the parents didn’t do anything – well, they asked them to sit down about a thousand times, and I emphasize “asked” since they clearly didn’t have any freaking control over their kids. Then the mother made a big show of saying to the people in the row next to them at the end of the flight (they were a couple of rows behind us) “oh, thank you for putting up with us.” As if they had a choice!

    The icing on the cake was when we were getting off the plane and one of their kids was standing directly in the middle of the jetway and blocking us. The mother asked her to move (again, emphasis on “asked” and not “told”) at least half a dozen times before she finally did. They were exactly the type of parents I hate the most – they didn’t even pretend to try to control their kids. I can muster up a certain amount of sympathy for a parent dealing with a kid having a meltdown, but these parents didn’t command any respect from their kids period. As my wife and I said, if we had been acting up like that as kids, it wouldn’t have been a question of *asking* us to stop, it would have been our parents *telling* us to stop – and we would have known they meant business.

  46. It is an awkward one, I feel sorry for the family concerned but I can sympathise with their fellow passengers.  Most children suffer tantrums but to be hitting and screaming is unacceptable.  My bugbear is with people who have the inside seat constantly getting up to use the loo and children kicking the back of the chair with irresponsible parents who do nothing to stop it >(

  47. Ok, I just have to say I’m disappointed in you for your phrasing re pets: “travelers who claim they have allergies to pet dander, but are often just ticked off…”

    I *wish* my pet allergies were the type that could be solved by simply taking a claritin or that I simply found them as annoying as most people seem to find babies on planes. I don’t know how you could possibly know whether people’s claims of allergies are true or not. But as someone who truly has those allergies, as well as sometimes severe asthma that is triggered by those allergies, I resent the implication that it’s a molehill being made into a mountain.

    (Btw, I’m not convinced my child’s crying and/or screaming  –whether in pain from the pressure changes or from hunger — bothered nearby passengers more than it bothered me when she was an infant. After all, they’re just annoyed by the noise; I had to deal with that infant, and also fear of how other passengers would react and the hormonal/biologicial reaction to my child’s cry that nature has gifted mothers with. OTOH, I only have one child; I’ve heard that by the time you have your second or third, you’re a lot better at ignoring things like that. At any rate, she’s now 7 and it’s not an issue.)

  48. I have good wax ear plugs to help dull noise and never travel without them. Also the ear  phones that are pretty good sound deading instruments, but I like my space and resent someone else invading it. (Oversize passenger).

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