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11 Things You Should Never Do on an Airplane, Ever

11 Things You Should Never Do on an Airplane, Ever

Picture of Tara Jessop
Updated: 6 November 2017

These days, thanks to low-cost airlines making it even easier to get from A to B, plane travel is commonplace. While there are certain essential safety rules you need to know – and flight attendants will always make you aware of – there are also some more practical guidelines you should bear in mind, too. Here are 11 things you should never do on an airplane.

Stay glued to your seat the entire flight

Travelling by airplane increases your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis or DVT – a clotting of the blood in your veins – but this can be prevented with a short stroll or simple movements from your seat during your flight as well as by wearing loose clothing.

Skip moisturising

Airplanes are notorious for drying out your skin, so take pat on some moisturiser to avoid landing tight and itchy. Also consider wearing a light sunblock to protect against the sun rays coming through the windows.

Guzzle fizzy drinks

Everyone has felt their ears pop on as cabin pressure changes during takeoff and landing – this can also lead to an expansion of gas within your body. Reduce the risk of feeling bloated by avoiding fizzy drinks (even that glass of champagne!)

Overdo it with alcohol

Speaking of champagne, as tempting as it may be to knock back a glass or two to help you ease into the flight, drinking too much alcohol can turn into a nightmare. Onboard pressure makes you react to the effects of alcohol much faster, so you may feel (and act) much drunker after two glasses in the air than you would after a bottle on the ground.

Take your socks off

You may want to get comfy, but no one wants to have to put up with your bare feet next to them. Besides, do you really want to walk around barefoot somewhere with so many germs introduced from around the world?

Drink tea or coffee

A cup of coffee might seem like a great idea to get you feeling perky, but the unglamorous truth is that airplane tap water  – with which hot drinks are often prepared – is notoriously bacteria-prone. Choose canned or bottled drinks instead to stay on the safe side.

Fall asleep when it’s morning at your destination

Adapt to your destination’s timezone as soon as possible, so no dozing off when it’s breakfast time where you’re heading. In fact, if you can, try adjusting to your new time zone a few days before travelling by staying up later or getting up earlier.

Eat food that’s touched your tray table

Though these trays should theoretically be cleaned after each flight, a recent survey found that tray tables are home to an average of 2,155 units of bacteria per square inch, compared with about 265 units on the toilet flusher. In other words, if your cookie crumbles onto your tray, leave the bits.

Try out new sleep medicine

Popping a pill at take-off can be tempting when facing a long journey, but make sure you know what you’re getting into. Finding out mid-flight that you’re allergic to one of the active ingredients or that the drug makes you hallucinate is not going to be fun – for anyone.

Wear contact lenses

Another consequence of the dry air aboard airplanes is that contact lenses can irritate your eyes even more than usual. Wear glasses to be more comfortable and prevent the urge to rub your eyes.

Keep quiet when you’re feeling ill

Feel nauseous but hope to just ride it out silently? That’s all well and fine…until it’s suddenly too late and you’re throwing up in your sick bag (at best). Don’t ever hesitate to tell the air stewards if you’re not feeling great, whatever the reason. They are highly trained to deal with a wide range of problems – from gas to anxiety – and will be able to provide assistance and comfort in most cases.