Ever been stuck on a nightmare flight? There’s nothing worse than settling in on the plane, ready to get into the holiday spirit, then being trapped 35,000 ft above ground with smelly feet, space invaders, and drunken groups.

With summer holiday season upon us, we spoke to the British public to discover some of the worst flying faux pas. We ran a competition asking people to submit their best plane stories —or worst, depending on how you look at it!

If you’re heading on holiday this year, here’s what not to do from some of our favourite submissions…

 

 1. The rowdy hens

Drunk passengers on planes are never ideal, but drunk stag and hen do’s usually take irritation to the next level. On a morning flight to Malaga, passenger Emma Day was sat next to a hen group who were “totally and utterly newt-ed having come directly from a nightclub to the airport.” Her journey from hell started with the usual noise and hens stumbling around to visit each other in their seats, progressing to them breaking out the hen’s emergency kits – “very fruity”, in Emma’s words. 

However, the lowlight was witnessing three bolshy members of the hen group actually flash their breasts at the pilot! Emma explained, “it happened on the way onto the plane. Most people had boarded, and the last three hens were staggering up the steps in front of us. They saw the pilot in the window, started giggling and swooning, then all three of them flashed! Unfortunately, we had front row seats for the entire incident!” 

The disturbances continued throughout the journey. Emma said, “the poor flashed pilot was constantly on the speaker saying they had to calm down or there might be a diversion, or even arrests. It usually worked for a minute or two before it returned to chaos. The flight attendants did NOT do the usual second drink trolley round, that’s for sure!” 

 

2. The overfamiliar sleeper

A nice nap is a great way to pass the time in the air, but maybe not as pleasant for your seating partners – especially if your comfort come at their expense. Beverley Cordle was one such unfortunate passenger, who explains, “I had a complete stranger put his legs up on the empty seat to his left and then lay his head down on my lap to sleep. I pushed him off immediately and he was actually annoyed I’d disturbed him!”

 

3. The raunchy actor

There’s bound to be an aspiring actor or two on a flight to LA, and that’s just what Emily Gallichan encountered on her nightmare flight to the US. After being sat in between two friends who declined her offer to swap seats so that they could sit together, Emily said it “soon became clear one of the men was headed to LA to audition for a very badly written and rather raunchy role in a movie.” She explained, “he and his friend to my left ran lines for the same two awful scenes for most of the flight (sexual sounds and all). It was pure hell!”

 

4. The PDA

The pandemic changed many things about flying, with the use of masks becoming mandatory. However, not everyone followed the rules. Rebecca Rowley was on a flight home from Santorini and encountered a couple who “obviously thought the rules didn’t apply to them, as they spent the whole four-hour flight French kissing – tongues and everything. We had to endure four-hours nonstop disgusting slurping noises and lip-smacking noises and a bit of groaning! It was awful, very annoying!”

 

5. The skin eater

Travel sickness is sometimes inevitable, but when it is self-induced, it’s easy to get frustrated with your fellow passengers. For Ellie Bromilow, her experience on a flight to Malaga was ruined by one such passenger who was “sick right into the aisle. It wouldn’t have been so bad but she had spent most of the flight on the vodkas, then picking her feet and eating the skin – it was all pretty disgusting!”

 

6. The nose picker

Cleanliness and respecting others personal space is a must for a pleasant plane experience, but that’s not what one flyer, Caroline Tinsley, got from her seating partner. On her hellish flight, she explained, “the man next to me was picking his nose. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then proceeded to wipe it on the seat right next to my leg!”

 

7. The spitter

Spitting is a bad habit anywhere, but it is a definite no-no on a plane. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Ian Major experienced on a long-haul flight to China. He describes “for nine hours of hell, I was treated to an elderly man behind me clearing his throat and spitting into a paper cup.” Talk about bad manners!

 

8. The hair flicker

Image: Twitter @PietdeJong99

We all know flights can get long and tedious, with the in-flight movies offering a much-needed distraction. If you can see them, that is, which was not the case when Denise Houghton boarded her flight to Barbados. Denise explains, “I settled back to watch a film – that is until the long haired woman in the seat in front of me decided to flick her hair right over the screen! I gently moved her hair away from my view but she instantly flicked it again!”

 

9. The smelly feet

Image: Twitter @LWhannell

Confined space plus smelly feet is never a good combination, but try telling that to the passengers who think it’s acceptable to remove their shoes mid-flight. When Maria Quinsey boarded her return flight from the Mediterranean, that’s exactly what she was trapped with.

She says, “I had the window seat and was trying to have a snooze when I heard movement next to me. I looked down and I saw crusty toes with the longest toenails. The person behind me decided it was okay to invade my space by resting their feet between my chair and the window. I was fuming – no matter how hard I tried to position myself in my seat, I could not escape this guy’s hairy size 10s!”

So how did she solve the problem? The threat of public shaming! Maria explains, “eventually he did move them, but only because I threatened to film him and make his disgusting monkey feet go viral on Tik-Tok!”

 

10. The deep sleeper

Sleeping on a plane doesn’t sound too infuriating, right? That is until you realise you’re trapped in your seat by a passenger in the deepest sleep imaginable! One passenger, James Forster, experienced this on a flight back from Australia, explaining, “the passenger in the aisle seat took sleeping pills and went into a VERY deep sleep. This meant we literally had to climb over her to go to the toilet as it was impossible to rouse her!”

 

11. The separated family

It’s always frustrating when you’re seated away from your group, but it’s often even more frustrating for the people sat in between you. On one such flight, Lisa Price found herself stuck in the middle of a family. She says, “they kept asking me to pass things backwards and forwards throughout the flight. I offered several times to swap seats so they could sit together, but they were ‘happy’ with theirs, meaning I had to keep handing things between them the whole way there!”

 

12. The Baby Shark singers

Remember Baby Shark? One passenger on a flight to Alicante, Karl Young, remembers the song all too well. On his flight, he says, “there were loads of noisy kids on the plane, and to entertain them, the entire flight (including the cabin crew) started singing Baby Shark – complete with actions!” Definitely not a fun experience!

 

What are the most common flying bad habits?

While we’ve summarised some of the worst and most unusual stories, there are some travel pet peeves we saw submitted repeatedly. Here are the most common bad habits on planes:

Bad smells

Whether it’s removing shoes, bringing out egg sandwiches mid-flight, or B.O., bad smells and confined spaces don’t mix. As one passenger told us, “nevermind checking for weapons or explosives, some passengers should be sent for a scrub with a bottle of disinfectant and a high-pressure hose before they are allowed to board!”

Reclining seats

We can’t talk about flying faux pas without mentioning the age-old debate – reclining seats. While reclining seats are there to make things more comfortable, for the people sitting behind, they often do the exact opposite. We’ve heard tales of passengers reclining during mealtimes, stopping other passengers from using their trays – a definite no-no.

Drunk passengers

Through many of the bad stories we heard, there was one common thread – alcohol. We heard multiple stories of drunken flyers spilling drinks into their seating partners’ laps, falling asleep on them, being generally disruptive, and even coming straight from the nightclub! Our advice? Know your limits – no one wants to start their holiday with a hangover!

 

Of course, these flyers from hell are mostly few and far between. For most passengers, the flight is a great time to relax and prepare for a great trip! If you’re thinking of jetting away this year, our selection of luxury holidays will ensure your trip is one to remember – for all the right reasons!