8 Worst Flying Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, According to Flight Attendants

Please don't do any of these things on your next flight.

Passenger looking for bag in airplane overhead bin

Sean Wang/Getty Images

You might think flying is easy — get on the plane, sit down, get off the plane. But there's a set of rules to abide by when up in the air, despite many passengers ignoring them. Ultimately, the rules of the airplane cabin exist not only to make your life (and the lives of your fellow passengers) more comfortable, but also to keep everyone on the aircraft safe. While some regulations are actually set by safety standards, there's a lot of etiquette involved with flying that's technically unofficial. Here, find both etiquette and safety mistakes passengers make when flying in an airplane, according to flight attendants.

Using the Restroom During Takeoff and Landing

"A pet peeve for many flight attendants is when people get up for the restroom during takeoff and landing, or right when they get onto the aircraft when people are trying to board and organize themselves," former flight attendant Amanda McDowell told Travel + Leisure. "Please don’t do this to your flight attendants. We need to be able to freely walk up and down the aircraft to make sure everyone is safe and in their correct seats for balance at takeoff and landings." If possible, try to keep your bathroom breaks to calm periods at cruising altitudes. McDowell added, "If we are in our jump seats, your butts best be sat buckled in your seats."

Removing Bags From the Overhead Compartments Before the Plane Is at the Gate

We've all seen it happen — the second your plane lands, someone jumps up to grab their belongings from the overhead bin. Don't do this. It's only safe to stand up once the plane is parked at the gate, rather than paused on an active taxiway. "Some passengers try to rush to their seats or take their carry-on bags out before the plane has come to a complete stop, which can be dangerous," said former flight attendant Kimberly Shaw. "It's important to always follow the safety procedures demonstrated by the flight crew and wait until the plane has come to a complete stop before attempting to stand up or retrieve any belongings."

Fasten seatbelt sign and no smoking sign next to air vent above airplane seats

Getty Images

Being Rude to Flight Crew

When you're in the air, flight attendants are in charge — and at the ready to aid passengers if things go awry. "Some passengers forget that the flight crew is there to help them, and they become rude or disrespectful," said Shaw. "It's important to remember that flight attendants and pilots are working hard to ensure a safe and comfortable flight, and treating them with kindness and respect goes a long way."

Not Wearing a Seat Belt When Instructed

If the seat belt sign is illuminated, listen to it. "The seat belt sign keeps you safe in unexpected turbulence, and ignoring it can put you and others at risk," said Shaw. Turbulence is not always predicted, and if you hit an unexpected patch of rough air, you could go flying out of your seat and get seriously injured.

Trying to Get Past Food Trolleys

One of the worst mistakes passengers make that bothers flight attendants is getting up and expecting to pass the food trolleys during service," said former flight attendant Josephine Remo,  "The trolleys are heavy to push around, and there is always little time to serve a lot of people. The aisle is a small space and it is uncomfortable for the crew to have someone standing behind them waiting to pass."

Placing Shoes in the Aisle

Don't remove your shoes and place them in the aisle. "This is a safety hazard to everyone on board who may trip over them," said former flight attendant Jo Jo Harder. "Passengers should place shoes under the seat in front of them instead." On that note, you really don't want to go barefoot on a plane, especially in the lavatory — it's filthy.

A close up of the "return to seat" lighted sign in an airplane bathroom

Zoran Milich/Getty Images

Leaving the Lavatory Untidy

If you use the lavatory on a plane, please take a moment to clean up after yourself. Many people don't keep the bathroom tidy, and that's how you end up with disgusting conditions. "Passengers should wipe off the toilet seat and basin, then discard paper towels in a trash container," said Harder. To that end, always wear shoes in the lavatory — you have no idea what liquids are sloshing around on the floor.

Drinking Tap Water

A viral TikTok by flight attendant Kat Kamalani advises only drinking liquids that come in a can or bottle. In the video, she claims that airplane "water tanks are never cleaned and they are disgusting." So, drinking tap water from the lavatories is a no-go — and you shouldn't drink coffee or hot tea, either, since they're made with water from those tanks.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles