Five Most Infuriating Passengers on Your Flight

By Hannah Gross on May 10, 2013

Flying: an activity of which I have become quite acquainted with this semester beginning with 24 hours of traveling from my hometown of Detroit, Michigan, to Sydney, Australia, capping it off with trips to Melbourne, Thailand and Bali. Oh, and let’s not forget the lovely layover in Malaysia, a land of which its existence I was a tad unfamiliar with prior to, during, and post my time spent in that godforsaken airport (a glimpse into my experience: limited edible food, “toilets” aka a drilled hole in the floor, and food poisoning for five out of the eight girls I traveled with due to the consumption of this “limited edible food”—do I make myself clear here?).

I, for one, would not consider it a gross generalization to declare flying as an unpleasant experience for the vast majority of the Homo sapiens species.

Some support for this claim, Merriam-Webster’s definition of “flying”, particularly the provided example for the “noun” description: 

Oh, you know me so well, Merriam.

Surely, the physical confines of the plane itself, along with the sheer altitude, stale air, and vomit-inducing turbulence are all factors contributing towards the unease of a flight. But, above all, the main issues that I bear with flying are the people on the plane.

Harking back to my recent article celebrating (berating) people who seem to have zero knowledge of the unspoken rules of library etiquette, I now present to you these special folks who truly make flying what it is: a literal and metaphorical pain in my ass.

On that note, pop that Ambien, toss back that Jack and Coke, or do whatever you need to do to tolerate the top five most infuriating passengers on your (every single) flight.

1. Virgins

Okay, calm down—I am referring to first-time flyers. I, myself, have witnessed such a case involving a group of eight boisterous folks seated not too far away from me on a four-hour flight to Mexico…¡Ay, caramba!

Was the reason for their unwarranted hollering at one another across the aisles due to the potential employment of earplugs? One will never know.

Nor will I ever know why they found it socially acceptable to throw their hands up in the air and scream, “WEEEEE!!!!!” during takeoff…or clap feverishly and high-five throughout the entire duration of the landing.

I waited patiently for Honey Boo Boo to appear out from the window seat.

2. Babies

“Ladies and gentlemen, the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign is now on. Thus, If you haven’t done so yet, we ask you to please stow away all carry-on luggage and babies in the overhead bins or underneath your seat”—said no regulated airline ever but one we all wish existed. 

It really is quite fascinating how babies are positively angelic in one moment and, the millisecond after a plane takes off, transform into Homeland’s Carrie Mathison—a snotty, rabid, Cray Cray.

A little something I’ve picked up on: shooting off abominable death-stares to the mother will not effectively silence her demon child.

3. The Incessant Talker

Quite frankly, I would rather have you place a screaming, head-spinning, exorcist-caliber “baby” (if you could call it that) directly on my lap for an eighteen-hour plane ride than force me to relive my experience on the flight to Australia.

To give you a little taste of how I felt, here is an excerpt of my rant on that flight. Oh, and I was seated right next to this woman while hammering away on my keyboard (I have no heart):

“Capping off at about five-feet tall and roughly similar dimensions in width, a mid-fifties woman named Mary—or was it Peggy?—immediately begins yapping away about, well, everything before the plane even ascends. I proceed to take the necessary step of pretending to send farewell text messages on my phone, which obviously does not pan out seeing as 1) I have no friends, and, 2) she continues to chew my ear off about her two sons, her previous job as a nurse, and her infatuation with Ricky Martin (okay, slight fabrication on my behalf).

I then decide to put headphones on and blast The Ting Tings’ “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” hoping she’d pick up on the subtle hint, but this bumbling idiot seems to disregard both acts of desperation until I whip out plan C: Play dead.

Apparently, even death does not deter this woman: she prods me thrice on the shoulder and asks, “tell me a little bit about yourself,” of which I mumbled “I am a student” and rolled my head back for a quick “doze.”

Flashing forward to hour-one of my flight, Mary-Peggy leaps for joy when the snack cart pushed by an overly eager flight attendant heads in our direction. Anticipating the arrival of pretzel sticks, Mary-Peggy hastily unfastens the lock for the tray table, only to find out that the tray is unable to lie flat due to her protruding gut.

“Too much Michigan to go around,” she utters as she pats her stomach.

Is she including the Great Lakes as well?

Oh, but it just gets better! As I open my seven-hundred page book (which I am about mid-way through and have become slightly obsessed with, FYI) she glances over my shoulder and blurts:

“Oh, I just adore that book! Has Jamie died yet?”

Are. You. kidding. ME?!?!?!

Pardon my asking, but next time would you mind giving me the heads up before you SPOIL an entire series? Thanks.

Well, folks, seems like my trip is off to a lovely start. #help.”

It has been two months since that flight and I have yet to crack open that book. Thus, Jaime along with my passion for reading have, in fact, died. I’m heavily considering bringing along a “Do Not Disturb” sign to my next flight…

4. The Drunken Sailor

I get it: flying is a little daunting for you, so you decide to order a drink…or five?

Do us all a favor and refrain from ending up like this:

Or perhaps a little something like this:

5. Fidgeter

This, my friend, is why Ritalin was invented…and the aisle seat.

To Whom It May Concern:

Kindly stop shaking your legs, playing the bongos on my tray table, and getting up to pee every fifteen minutes.


Your highly irritated neighbor

Let us not forget the Arm-Rest Battler, The Sickly One, and even the Mile-High Clubbers, to name a few.

I ask you to join hands and pray that my next flight runs smoothly for the sake of my sanity. Amen.

Until next time,


Hannah is majoring in English Literature and Language at the University of Michigan with a minor in Judaic Studies. She works as a indoor cycling instructor at RealRyder Revolution, but she weirdly hates bikers as they ride--and potentially run her over--on her way to class. Hannah's greatest passion is her love of singing, and often performs around campus and surrounding cities. Be sure to check her out on YouTube! And lastly, she currently feels slightly awkward writing about herself in third person. That is all, folks.

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