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Top Ten Things Not To Do When Traveling by Plane

Here is the 50th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.

Boing 747 London - Bangkok

10.  When traveling by plane, do not think that you can fake being 75 or older so you won’t have to take off your shoes since you are self-conscious about foot odor.  At best, the TSA agents will just roll their eyes as you stoop and shuffle over and then will patiently insist that you remove your shoes since your ID makes it clear that you are not as old as you claim.  At worst, the TSA agents will decide that you must have some mental health issues and flag you as someone to be examined in the TSA office which causes you to miss your plane and totally gross out the TSA agents in the small examination room with your smelly feet.

9.  When traveling by plane, do not expect that the happy, cooing baby seated behind you will remain happy and cooing once the plane takes off.  At best, the parents will attend immediately to the baby whenever it starts to cry.  At worst, the parents will ignore the baby, as apparently they always do, and it will be your eardrums which will suffer more from the baby’s earsplitting screams than from the change in cabin air pressure which is causing the screaming.

8. When traveling by plane, do not assume that the carry-on bag you bought online for half-price will actually fit in an overhead bin.  At best, you’ll be the first to wedge your bag into the bin and can ignore the other passengers whose bags are smaller but unable to fit because your bag is so large.  At worst, a big guy named Tiny will pull out your bag, drop it in your lap, and put in his own.You’ll be stuck having to check your oversized carry-on at the last minute unless you foolishly want to argue with Tiny.

7.  When traveling by plane, do not think you can escape screaming babies by hiding in the lavatory.  If you do, at best, you’ll only face a long line of angry passengers when you finally come out as the plane is preparing to land.  At worst, the flight crew will summon an air marshal  and forcefully extricate you at a most inconvenient moment.

6.  When traveling by plane, do not think you can time your use of the lavatory to coincide with the smoothest part of the flight.  At best, you’ll be lucky and only be slightly jostled about on the toilet as the plane hits some minor turbulence.  At worst, the plane will hit an air pocket, causing the plane to drop sharply, you to accidentally open the lavatory door as you grab the handle for stability, and the flight crew to be forever marred by an image of your blue water-colored naked bottom half.

5.  When traveling by plane, do not assume that the passenger behind you won’t mind if you put your seat all the way back.  If you do, at best, that passenger and all the ones behind will be the doing the same thing, causing a strange but convenient domino effect.  At worst, the passenger behind you will show displeasure by choosing that time to pitch forward and have a sneezing fit over your head making you wish you had brought an umbrella.

4.  When traveling by plane, do not think it would be a fun idea to tease your fellow passenger’s cat while the passenger is in the lavatory.  At best, the cat will only hiss and growl as it backs into the corner of the pet taxi when you stick your fingers through the grate.  At worst, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do to the flight attendant and your fellow passenger when you ask for help in retrieving your hand from PsychoKitty’s clamped jaw.

3.  When traveling by plane, do not think that you can imbibe several alcoholic drinks and somehow be sober when your 10-hour flight ends.  At best, the flight attendant will be aware of your naiveté and water down your drinks so you can disembark without assistance.  At worst, you drink yourself into a Bermuda Triangle stupor and wake up hours later in a TSA’s office, strapped to a wheelchair and not having answers to the questions being asked by Fritz the head interrogator.

2.  When traveling by plane, on your return flight, do not think your fellow passengers will find it amusing if you sing along with the movie Happy Feet, which you’ve seen several times already.  At best, all the passengers will choose to use headsets to tune you out.  At worst, you just might be faced with a mass passenger mutiny where walking the plank takes on new meaning at thirty-five thousand feet.

1.  When traveling by plane, do not pull an Alec Baldwin and insist on taking a cell phone call just when the captain requests that everyone turn off their phones and other electronic devices.  At best, a flight attendant will gently but firmly take your phone away from you and refuse to return it until your plane has landed.  At worst, the captain and flight crew will pay a personal visit to your seat and escort you off the plane, (after landing if you are lucky) totally ignoring your claim to be a very important person.

Categories: Top Ten Lists

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Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

33 replies

    1. Hi, Charles! Yeah, I usually avoid the lavatory if I can (hard to do on long flights). I did have one episode where I was almost knocked off the toilet when we hit some turbulence. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to grab the hand grip 😉


        1. I never thought about the complications when you have a child with you. Did you hear about the Jet Blue flight attendant who wouldn’t let the 3-year-old use the lav while the plane was delayed on the ground? Poor kid peed all over herself. When a kid has got to go, it’s an emergency, not an option.


  1. Too funny, Marie! This reminded me of a flight I was on from Virginia to California…a baby was behind us and it screamed the majority of the trip. I think the pressure was hurting it’s ears, but still…it was horrible. Maybe that’s why I never had children. 🙂


    1. On a recent cross-country trip, there was one baby screaming the whole way, and the flight back there were two. I know that’s one reason why I never had children 🙂 Happy Monday, Jill!


  2. Good Morning Marie. As a business traveler for over 40 years I have experienced a number of really strange things on flights. The two that really stand out: 1. On a 747 and someone put what the crew thought was a bomb in the front of the plane. Emergency landing in Minneapolis to find out it was underwear which an old lady forgot she left when she boarded.(she never heard the announcements to claim the box) 2. On a commuter flight over Chicago banking over the fuel tank farm there and one of the engines blows up. The bad part was the engine was on the side that was lowest making it a very difficult maneuver to straighten up. The pilot did a great job and we landed safely. It was 6:30 in the morning so a margarita was out of the question.


    1. I think a Bloody Mary would have been justified for your 2nd story. At least, it’s a (semi-) morning drink 😉 I probably would have had two.


  3. Having taken several direct flights from New York to Tokyo and to Inchon, Korea, I can say lavatory experiences are sometimes unavoidable. Even if one has a superhero’s bladder (I assume superheroes are good at holding it), the urge for a teeth brushing will hit by hour 8 or 9.

    I’ll take that over one of those puddle-jumper flights. I’d just as soon drive at that point.


    1. I once had to take a plane so small, I felt like I was walking into a dark closet. Not good if you’re claustrophobic, which I am. I think I would definitely have bladder problems on a transcontinental flight – probably one reason I haven’t gone on any 😉


      1. I was in one of those 30-seaters when landing in a blizzard several years ago. I swear that thing almost went belly up about 200 feet above the runway. Some gasps ran through that cabin, I tell you!


  4. Having just completed a long haul flight, I’m sitting in the lounge catching up on blog reading. I wish I’d had this before flying 12 hours, though it was an uneventful experience (other than when my bladder chose a moment of turbulence to insist on the facilities.)


    1. Andra, I think you could have written this list with all your adventures 🙂 Glad your flight was generally uneventful. It is awfully difficult to avoid turbulence 😉


    1. And that’s a damn good question. On a recent flight, I kept bumping my head on the seat in front of me whenever I reached down for my backpack. All I can hope is that my bumping annoyed the reclining passenger as much as it annoyed me 😉


  5. I travelled by plane – twice – today and was an absolute dream 🙂 And I flew to Germany – wouldn’t have minded Fritz waiting for me I think 😉


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