These are the People Everyone Secretly Hates Running Into at the Airport
If you’re planning to partake in the miracle of flight in the near future, this is for you.
For frequent flyers, this list is a reminder of your pet peeves — and that we share them.
Others of us out here are baffled by these Disney families, bachelor parties and other annoying airport amateurs, bumbling through the terminal like they just woke up on a new planet.
For traveling families, bachelors, et. al… This is a public service announcement.
Don’t be that guy.
These 10 faux pas are hard to watch, annoy every traveler and can cost you money every time you fly.
Avoid them, and you can skate through the airport with the grace of a pro like George Clooney in “Up in the Air.”
1. That Guy Who Comes to Security Completely Unprepared to Get Through Security
A frequent flyer can always spot this annoying amateur in the security line.
They’re wearing boots with 18 snaps or shoes that lace up the ankle a la 1887.
Their laptop’s buried at the bottom of their bag, so it’s impossible to remove without displacing piles of underwear.
They’re decked out in as many metal accessories the human body can hold.
They’re wearing a cardigan under a sweater under a coat and don’t realize all have to come off — until they’re in the perfect position to stall the entire line.
Unless you’re a ‘90s sitcom character, flying isn’t something that comes up last minute. You know it’s going to happen.
Prepare accordingly: Wear comfortable slip-on shoes, stash the accessories for later, stick with a couple light layers and keep your laptop away from your unmentionables.
2. That Guy Who Has No Idea What’s Allowed Through Security
Complicated as FOX News or whoever might make it seem, airport security basically has two rules:
- Three ounces (or less) of liquid.
- No weapons.
Still, you’ll see this scene any time you fly:
A dumbfounded family in matching Hawaiian-print shirts stands by as TSA agents confiscate giant bottles of sunscreen, salon-grade shampoo, liquor, pocket knives and ninja throwing stars from their carry-on bags.
First of all, you’re not a ninja.
Second, even if you are, you’re on vacation.
Read the guidelines, leave the weapons at home and use hotel shampoo.
3. That Guy Who Never Stops Complaining About the Cost of Flying
“I’m going to write a letter,” is an actual sentence I heard on an airplane in the 21st century.
The guy in front of me was upset about the bag-check fee he’d paid upon arriving at the airport. Letter-writing upset.
Hidden fees are a serious pain… when they’re actually hidden.
Airline fees rarely are, though.
They’re listed on your confirmation page, in your confirmation email, in your follow-up reminder emails, in that text the airline sends you at 3 a.m. when it can’t sleep…
“U up? btw Checked bags cost extra.”
Frequent flyers not only know about fees in advance, but also how to avoid paying them.
Savvy travelers rarely pay full price to fly.
Instead they cover flights and those pesky fees with miles and points.
You can accrue points from a lot more than just flying, too. Shopping portals, online surveys, dining programs and credit cards can also offer travel rewards. Here are a few of our favorite ways to earn travel rewards:
- For Penny Hoarders who don’t charge that much each month, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® can help you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. You’ll get a $200 bonus if you spend just $1,000 in the first 90 days — that’s enough for a frugal flight!
- E-miles lets you earn points to use towards airlines, hotels and services while you travel. Just sign up with your email address, and you’ll earn points by watching ads, signing up for free services, taking surveys and more.
- Our favorite cash-back app, Ibotta, lets you earn rebates when you book hotels. For example, 3% cash back on HotelTonight and 4% back on Hotels.com. Just sign up and book through Ibotta.
4. That Guy Who Completely Misunderstands the Point of Carry-Ons
Carry-on bags and personal items are allowed on a plane — with explicit guidelines.
If for some reason you should fail to check them before arriving at your gate, most airlines have a simple compliance test: Your bag must fit inside a box.
It’s like those block puzzles we give toddlers. The triangle block goes in the triangle hole.
If your baby tries to put a triangle in a circle, she’s going to have to gate check it and probably pay the extra fee.
Save yourself the hassle and some money: Read your airline’s guidelines and measure your bags at home.
And while you’re fitting things into places, remember: One carry-on bag goes in the overhead bin, and one personal item goes under the seat in front of you.
Don’t bogart the overhead bin with your extra bulk.
5. That Guy Who Cuts Ahead of Their Boarding Zone
There’s a number on your ticket, usually labeled with “Zone” or “Boarding Zone.”
That’s your boarding zone number.
If you don’t know what it means, I’ll explain. But just in case you forget, your gate agent will also explain it — several times — before they start the boarding process.
You share that number with a group of passengers, and it indicates the order in which you board the plane.
Your gate agent will call a number, and passengers who hold a ticket with said number can line up and begin boarding the plane.
Passengers with other numbers on their tickets should not line up at this time.
It’s sort of like the DMV. Or Applebee’s. Or kindergarten.
Just wait for someone to call on you.
6. That Guy Who Doesn’t Understand the Seating System
Speaking of kindergarten, let’s review numbers and letters.
To keep it easy, we won’t count any higher than 40 (in most cases), and we’ll keep the alphabet to just A through F.
Do you need me to slow down? I know you think you know the alphabet; you’re an adult.
But you must not. Because you’re sitting in my seat.
No, I’m definitely right. That’s my seat. Yours is across the aisle. Yes, I’m very sure, because that’s an A, and this is a F.
And while we’re working on cracking the code of the row number/seat letter combination…
You don’t have to stop at every row to check whether it’s your row. The numbers are in the same order on every plane. The same order they’ve been in since the beginning of time.
If you’re in row 22, don’t check the seats behind row four.
Keep the line moving, and slow down a little when you see double digits.
7. That Guy Who Loads up at the Duty-Free Store
One of the best kept travel secrets is you’re allowed to take food through airport security.
Somehow the message isn’t getting out.
TSA has not banned food.
Pack your own snacks, and stop complaining about the airline’s exorbitant prices. That complaint hasn’t been interesting since the ‘80s.
Related: Water bottles also are allowed — sans water.
As long as you down your water before passing through security, take the bottle with you. Fill it up at a fountain before you board, and avoid the airport shop’s pricy water.
Finally, bring your own inflatable neck pillow, if you must. You look like a dork with that brand-new one clamped around your neck, sporting the logo of the local sports team you don’t care about.
8. That Guy Who Stands as Soon as the Plane Lands
OK, personally, I hope the amateurs never stop doing this because it’s so much fun to watch.
But here’s a warning for your sake.
Once a plane lands and even after it taxis to the gate, you’ve got at least 15 to 20 minutes before you’re getting off the plane.
If you’re in the back half of the plane, probably longer.
Don’t stand — you have nowhere to go. Sit down.
You probably can’t even stand all the way up.
You’re going to smack your head on the overhead bin, then stand crooked and grouchy until it’s time for your row to move forward.
Chill out, check your Instagram notifications and let your mom know you’ve landed safely.
9. That Guy Who Packs More Than He Needs
Avid travelers won’t check a bag if they don’t have to.
It often costs more, takes extra time and comes with the risk of the bag not arriving in the same city as you. They also know heavy bags and bulky stuff like neck pillows are difficult to haul through an airport.
A pro never packs more than what’s needed.
You don’t need 27 outfit options with coordinating shoes for the weekend. You can probably skip some of the beauty products for a couple of days, too.
Pare it down to basics. Save yourself time, money and miserable glares from your fellow passengers.
10. That Guy Who Touches Your Seat
Confession. This whole post is really just my way of sharing this message with the world: Don’t touch my seat.
Watch the flight attendants walk down the aisle. Where are their hands? They’re not grabbing my seatback for balance — that would be rude.
They reach up — to the overhead bins — to steady themselves. You can do that, too.
Also, don’t grab my seat to pull yourself into a standing position. That’s what your abdominal muscles are for.
And your kids’ feet? Get ‘em the f*** off my seat.
Dana Sitar (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.