Travel Opinion

Every Annoying Airline Passenger You’ll Meet On Your Next Flight

annoying airline passengers

Ah, irritating travel companions. We’ve all experienced them and we’ve probably all been them, at least once or twice. Nobody’s perfect, after all. Even so, we can all admit that there’s nothing worse than the annoying habits of your fellow travellers on board aeroplanes, whether they’re armrest hoggers, secret snorers or total flouters of unspoken aeroplane etiquette. In fact, nothing has the power to make your heart sink further into the pit of your stomach than getting placed next to a bratty child, or, even worse, a bratty adult on a plane but at least being seated next to an annoying airline passenger usually leads to amusing anecdotes rather than travel horror stories.

Long story short, this is my pretty lengthy guide to the nightmare airline passengers that may or may not have you anger-typing a post for whichever passenger shaming Facebook group is en vogue at the time. There are so many things that annoy people (me) that I found it hard to narrow this down, but the question remains, which one will you own up to being?


The Dawdler

The Dawdler’s evolution begins with a failure to check the seat reservation in the, oh, five hours they’ve been sat around with nothing to do whilst waiting to pile on to the tin can in the sky, which inevitably leads to them faffing around once on the plane. Then, The Dawdlers (they usually come in pairs) will painstakingly put every single belonging they brought with them into the overhead cabin, before one announces they need a book. The rummaging begins. This is all before they have an under-their-breath argument about who’s sitting next to the window and who gets lumbered with the middle seat of hell, and guess who’s stuck behind them for the duration?

LAX airport – J'X – JereauX Via: @wink

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The Never Travelled Economy Before

These are the people who are overtly disgusted that they have to slum it with the working classes for the next few hours before they make it to their next destination. The female Never Travelled Economy Before-rs can often be spotted wearing kaftan style blouses in a gaudy print and some form of white trouser. On the other hand, the male Never Travelled Economy Before-rs are usually decked out in salmon toned clothes and boat shoes. Both wear oversized sunglasses that they will keep on for the entire flight and have the potential to just be straight up rude airline passengers.

The Baller

They fly economy but buy their entire party a slap-up meal (with alcohol) from the in-flight menu. They aren’t to be confused with the aforementioned Never-Travelled-Economy-Before-rs though, who’d rather die than eat anything served from a trolley by someone wearing an outfit made entirely from polyester.

The Spreader

There are many annoying things people do on board planes, but The Spreader is arguably the person you dread being seated next to most because they have zero regard for personal space and a Teflon-level resistance to your not-so-subtle knee jostles, tuts and unamused glares. Instead, these are the people that will spread themselves across all available space like an insidious jelly, whether it belongs to them of not. The Spreader is typically male.

The Armrest Hogger

However, The Spreader should not be mistaken for The Armrest Hogger, who is the annoying type of traveller that focuses all their attention on taking the space everyone is fighting for the most. They’ll position themselves on both armrests the second they sit down and you’ll be lucky if they move again for the entirety of the flight. These are often the people that simply fall asleep immediately, trapping you into your row, only waking up as the wheels touch the ground. Naturally, it’s impossible for a middle seat passenger to be considered The Armrest Hogger because airplane etiquette deems they automatically deserve both.

The Overdressed One

Not to be confused with The Never-Travelled-Economy-Before-rs, although they sometimes overlap, The Overdressed Ones are actually more annoying at security, as they strip off their hats, heels and tasteful layers, leaving anyone queuing behind them with a sour taste in their mouth. The Overdressed Ones generally come wearing a ridiculously wide rimmed sun hat, designer sunglasses and inappropriate footwear, They will at no point during the flight take off any of these items.

The Underdressed One

On the other end of the in-flight fashion spectrum, you have The Underdressed One. Either a 30-something backpacker that should have returned to their parent’s back bedroom some time ago, or an actual child, they’re usually seen wearing pyjamas. If The Underdressed One falls into the 30-something backpacker category, they’re almost definitely wearing elephant harem pants. As opposed to The Overdressed One, The Underdressed One will definitely remove their socks and/or shoes at some point during the flight.

The Overstuffer

There’s often crossover between The Overstuffer and The Underdressed One, as they’re working on a tight budget and want to squeeze everything they own in the world into one hand luggage sized wheely case or tattered backpack covered in flag patches. They’ll take up all the overhead cabin bin space but they’re the ones to turn to if you need a spare charger or some chewing gum before take-off, because they’re literally carrying everything they own.

The Chatterbox

The Chatterbox is one of those divisive annoying airline passengers, because, like Marmite, you either love them or you hate them. Often, you move rapidly from the first to the second sentiment when they don’t take your one word answer hints that you want the conversation to end. Usually travelling alone, The Chatterbox’s annoying habits include asking you wildly personal things almost immediately and being likely to reveal far too much about themselves as well. Alternative versions of The Chatterbox include those who just talk inappropriately loudly with their travel partner for the entire flight.

The Sniffer

The Sniffer is the person who’s been brought up with the belief that blowing your nose in front of other people is the most heinous crime imaginable and so instead sniffs their life away. As we all know, one sniff is never enough, so this behaviour continues for the. entire. flight. Take tissues and kindly offer them one before you get so irritated you want to cry.

The Recliner

You instantly hate whoever The Recliner is the second you’re jerked awake by their chair slamming back onto your knees. The Recliner is only an acceptable (read: non-annoying) airline passenger on long-haul flights, whereas people who do this on budget short hauls are the actual devil.

annoying airline passenger


The Seat Kicker

Often a child, often a disgruntled, long-legged passenger trying to subtly make their point to The Recliner they have in front of them that there just isn’t enough room for their legs anymore, The Seat Kicker is usually a blissfully brief annoyance blip in your journey. Note that I am often this person when confronted with an inconsiderate Recliner.

The Snorer

Less annoying and generally more amusing, The Snorer provides everyone around them with some light relief, but can instantly be solved with a swift nudge in the ribs that you can then pretend was accidental. But still, if you’re The Snorer, you should be aware of the fact that accidentally falling asleep on a plane puts you at risk of pissing off anyone within a two-row vicinity.

The Reader

Annoying because they insist on keeping their personal reading light on when everyone else is ready for a quick nap, The Reader is often found with pretentiously titled, foreign language texts. I mean, you never see someone deeply engrossed in a bestseller that insists on keeping their light on, do you? I may or may not be The Reader too.

The Too Cool to Look Out the Window During Take Off 

This one’s a bit of a mouthful, but hey, what ya gunna do? We’ve all been there, stuffed into the middle of the plane on the aisle seat, or worse, in the middle seat, as we crane our necks to take a glimpse out of the window at the scenery as we take off. I often do this because I don’t want the last thing I potentially look at to be the sick bag in the seat pocket in front of me, but there are some people that clearly have no sense of impending doom whatsoever and deign themselves The Too Cool to Look Out the Window During Take Off and Landing passenger. They will annoy you because they usually have the window seat, when everyone knows that if you don’t want that coveted view you should get yourself an aisle spot.

The Over Thinker

Maybe the last entry clued you in to the fact that I’m also often The Over Thinker. These annoying plane passengers are the ones who’ll dart their eyes around in panic at the merest hint of light turbulence, looking for worry in the eyes of the cabin crew (you know you’re in some deep shit if the pros look concerned) or asking for chewing gum from their fellow passengers so they can take their mind off the flight. They’re usually frequent armrests grabbers, and either use the bathroom constantly or never take off their seatbelt. Of course, if they’re the former they’re usually sat by the window, and if they’re the latter they’re in the aisle seat.

The Worker

The Worker will be decked out in a full suit and tie get up (or a not-very-plane-friendly skirt, tights and heels combo if they’re a woman). You can spot The Worker from a mile off as they’re constantly clutching their phone and rarely look up from their laptop screen for the entire flight. They’re usually just faffing with an excel spreadsheet though. But what are the things that are annoying about them exactly? Well, they hog the limited plug sockets, have you tripping over their wires in the departure lounge and tap-tap-tap away through the entire flight.

The Pushers

They prioritise getting off the plane before anyone else and can be found rushing to whip off their seatbelt, stand up and shuffle down the aisle the second the plane has come to a standstill. The Pushers typically deactivate their airplane mode setting ASAP too, probably because they’re already ordering their Uber from the comfort of the Boeing747. Ironically, The Pushers are also often the people who pay for priority entry. Maybe they just really hate waiting?

The Parents

Yes, I’ve made you cling on ‘til the final entry for The Parents and maybe you thought I wasn’t going to go there, but, well, I’m sorry because The Parents are also highly annoying airline passengers at times. This is admittedly not so much a reflection on them as people, but rather the tiny, sticky people they created. No matter how much you fight the urge to be annoyed, the child will at some point scream, watch Cbeebies far too loudly on their iPad or transform into The Seat Kicker and you’ll be inexplicably enraged. Sorry Parents, but everyone’s heart sinks when they see you trundle your way onto the plane with a changing bag and look of despair in your eyes.

So, what are your flying horror stories? How many of these annoying airline passengers have you run into on your plane ride from hell? But more importantly, which one are you?!



  1. Ashley - Adventure To Anywhere 14 April, 2017 at 18:08 Reply

    This is actually the best. You have an awesome sense of humour, I was laughing out loud and agreeing with all of these!

    I don\’t know what I\’d call her (or him) other than \’Person Who Covers Your TV Screen With Their Nasty Hair\’…but that person is my least favourite. And I\’ve been unfortunate enough to succumb to her hairy fury a few times now. Haha.

    Happy Travels!

    • Lauren 14 April, 2017 at 18:10 Reply

      Wow! Thank you so much. URGH, those people are the worst, you\’re so right. How do they think that flinging their hair around is acceptable?! I would totally be the first person telling them to get it out of my way haha!

  2. Jill Bowdery 14 April, 2017 at 18:15 Reply

    Oh this has made me laugh – a lot! Yes, I\’ve met ALL of these, the spreader being my absolute pet hate (I really don\’t want to spend 8 hours rubbing knees with a strange man, thank you!!). I will admit to being guilty of a few of them myself – although thankfully only moderately. I\’m more of a fidgeter myself… ?

    • Lauren 14 April, 2017 at 18:20 Reply

      Oooh, the fidgeter! Forgot about that one. Yeah, I\’m definitely guilty of a few too haha, but hopefully just moderately enough to not be full blown annoying! Glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  3. Emily 14 April, 2017 at 21:27 Reply

    HAHAHAHA!! You actually had me laugh out loud to a couple of those – and nodding in agreement to the rest! Excellent observations. Thanks for the giggle!

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