The 7 Most Annoying People You’ll Meet at the Airport — and How to Deal With Them

See some bad airport behavior? Here's what you can do about it, according to etiquette experts.

The airport can be really, really, stressful. It’s a place where even the most seasoned travelers can sometimes experience a breakdown or two. And most of the time, those stressors come from a few poorly behaved individuals mucking up the system for everyone. But rather than simply name and shame, we thought we’d turn to a few etiquette experts for advice. Here are the seven most annoying people you might meet at the airport, and how to deal with them in a cool and calm way. 

The First Timer

Where You'll Meet Them: Standing in line behind them (forever) as they try and decipher if they have to remove their laptop and shoes, forget to take out their cellphone from their pocket, and have to try again.

How to Stay Calm: Instead of getting frustrated, offer to help. Give the person a few tips in the gentlest way possible. Or, just take a few breaths and remember, you're getting on a plane to go on vacation soon. And if you need, perhaps ask politely to skip the line. "Patience is a virtue," says Laura Windsor, founder of the Laura Windsor Etiquette & Protocol Academy. "If you are in a hurry because your flight is boarding, explain your circumstance to those ahead of you, apologizing for the inconvenience. Try to plan your next journey more effectively to avoid arrival delays."

The One Who Rushes to Board the Plane

Where You'll Meet Them: Hovering outside your plane’s gate, waiting to rush the line the second the door opens. 

How to Stay Calm: It’s important to note you'll all get on the plane eventually, whether or not you rush to the door. And most of the time, you have an assigned seat anyway. Your best bet here is to ignore the passenger; if rushing the plane helps them calm down, so be it. "It’s important to remember that air travel is often unpleasant, but perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that we’re all in this unpleasantness together," says Nick Leighton, etiquette expert and host of the weekly comedy podcast “Were You Raised by Wolves?” "So, with this spirit in mind, patience and good humor are often the best tools we have to just get through it."

The One Crowding the Luggage Carousel

Where You'll Meet Them: Pushing their way through a crowd, standing over the carousel, checking every piece of luggage to see if it’s theirs, and ensuring there's no room for anyone else. 

How to Stay Calm: Much like the security line, this, too, is a place to simply stay calm and remember you’ll get through it eventually. But if you're in a hurry and see your bag come out, it’s OK to politely ask the person to step aside. "There are many behaviors that take place in an airport or on an airplane that cannot be justified,” says Mariah Grumet, founder of Old Soul Etiquette. "However, things such as people rushing to board the plane, someone holding up the security line, or the person crowding the luggage carousel may all stem from travel nerves, or perhaps it's someone who doesn't do this often, is elderly, or has a disability. Be the helper if you see someone who may need some assistance."

The One Watching a Movie Without Headphones

Where You'll Meet Them: From sitting at the bar to boarding areas, hallways, lounges, and everywhere in between, the movie watchers sans headphones are all over the airport. 

How to Stay Calm: Though annoying, this airport misbehavior is rather easy to avoid because you can simply find a new spot to sit. However, if you happen to be in a crowded area, you can always politely ask the offender to turn it down. (This goes for kids playing video games, too, but ask the parent instead.) If you do, make sure to ask kindly, as the person may not even realize just how loud their music or show is. "All manners are based on the Golden Rule, which basically says, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,'" Windsor says. "It’s a code of conduct that gives you the confidence to tackle all situations and ideally should be brought to every interaction you encounter."

The One Who Needs Help With Their Overweight Bag

Where You'll Meet Them: Trying to lug their bags from the cab to the door, at the check-in counter, going through security, and most egregious of all, while boarding the plane

How to Stay Calm: We've all been there. You know, when you've packed one too many pairs of shoes, a few extra T-shirts, or perhaps an additional camera or two, making your bag a little heavy. So, if you can help the person, help. But don't do so if it puts you in harm's way, too. "Health and safety always trump etiquette and we never want to put ourselves in harm's way just for the sake of being quote-unquote polite," Leighton shares. "So, if a situation feels unsafe or looks like it might escalate, it's best to loop in a flight attendant. They have special training and are often in the best position to help."

The One Who Brought a Tuna Fish Sandwich From Home

Where You'll Meet Them: In the lounges, around the gate areas, or anywhere someone may feel it’s appropriate to bust out a sandwich. 

How to Stay Calm: In this situation, control what you can: you. You can move to a new location if the smell bothers you, but know the odor will be gone when they finish. However, if you have an allergy, that’s another issue. If you’re allergic to peanuts, for example, and can’t move to a new location, explain the situation and ask nicely if the person can put the sandwich away until you’re gone. "In general, a polite-yet-direct request can solve many issues," Leighton shares. "The trick to success is often to use a tone that’s nonjudgmental and value-neutral, although your mileage may vary."

The Barefoot Person in the Bathroom

Where You'll Meet Them: In one place and one place only: the bathroom. 

How to Stay Calm: It's a hard thing to ignore, but in this very special instance, it's key to remember this is not your problem. Just walk away. "Barefoot (or socks) equals bacteria and is cringe-worthy," says Lisa Mirza Grotts, an etiquette expert from San Francisco. "However, this is [the] passenger's problem."

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