The holiday season inevitably means a lot of people are flying to see family in disparate parts of the country, and many of those people are probably flying for the first time in a long time, or for the first time ever. These are often the people who simply do not understand the unspoken rules of flight — though I don’t discount that frequent flyers can also be a real pain in the ass. This Thanksgiving, I’m challenging you to be one of those people that makes everyone else want to fucking die.
Your goal is to be the most obnoxious holiday traveler possible without getting kicked off the plane. You just want to make everyone around you vaguely miserable. You will gain one point for every socially unacceptable airplane behavior, and every dirty look or exasperated sigh is worth another point. After all, why not revel in the flee of being the worst airborne person alive?
No more talking, now. Let’s begin the challenge.
Are you in the last boarding group? Well, that doesn’t make you any less important! I want you hovering in the way of everyone else boarding the flight while you wait for your final group to be called. Really get in there. Who needs that space more than you?
Take careful measurements of the overhead bin space that will be available on your plane. Then bring a bag that is just slightly too big for the overhead bin. Just an inch too long, an inch too tall. And yes, you absolutely have to attempt to wedge that sucker in there, muttering about how it definitely fit in every other plane you’ve ever been on and you have no idea what’s wrong. Hold up that boarding line, friend.
You’ll get a bonus point if you just leave it there for a flight attendant to deal with.
After you’ve wedged your slightly-too-large bag in the overhead bin, start cramming all your other shit in there, too. Your backpack. Your purse. Your fluffy down jacket. Your half-drank bottle of Coke Zero. Make sure you spread those things out, too. You don’t want anyone else putting their things in your bin.
Scramble onto the plane moments before the boarding door closes laden with shit: your large luggage, your large personal item, a bag of food, some goodies from the duty free, a whole-ass blanket and pillow setup, and anything else you can think of. Now proceed to stalk up and down the aisle of the plane looking for somewhere to put all that shit.
Don’t even ask. Just take someone’s bag out of the overhead bin and move it somewhere else to make room for your stuff.
The flight attendants have done their safety spiel. The plane is taxiing to takeoff. But you realize you’ve stored your Coke Zero in the overhead bin, and you are simply going to die of thirst before you hit 10,000 feet. It’s time to stand up and start digging through that overhead bin, friend. If you’re not holding up the plane, you’re not being obnoxious enough.
Everyone knows that middle seat passengers are universally the most hated travelers in the known world. Pick that middle seat.
Nothing is worse than getting comfortably settled in your seat, waiting anxiously for the plane’s doors to close in the hope that you’ll get to slide over and take that window seat, thus leaving a coveted empty space between you and the aisle passenger — only to find that this motherfucker in that seat has arrived late. You’ll get a bonus point if you don’t apologize for making everyone readjust and instead crack jokes about how you’re so honored the plane decided to wait for you.
If you’ve been blessed with the opportunity that is the middle seat, I want you to spread your legs wide and take up not just both arm rests but at least an inch of space into the other person’s seat. Really just relax and treat this like it’s your own home. If someone asks you kindly to move, do so. Then slowly let your knee/elbow/foot encroach on their space again.
Are you a middle- or window-seat passenger that needs to use the bathroom? Don’t bother asking folks if they’ll stand up. Just get up and start climbing over everyone in the seats next to you like some sort of heathen that believes everyone wants to have your nether regions located firmly in their face.
Here’s one for the boarding process. When you locate your seat and there’s already someone in the row, don’t say anything. Just stand there, looking at the person in your way until they mystically divine that you’re seated in their row.
Are you assigned seat 12A? This is your time to sit in seat 13A. When someone approaches you about your incorrect seat, play dumb. Tell them this is definitely your seat. Tell them you’re definitely supposed to sit here. Tell them you can’t double check your boarding pass because your phone died or you already put your paper slip away. Then, when you’re finally forced to admit your folly, ask that passenger if they’d like to take your seat instead.
No one particularly likes flying with a crying baby, but we all know that the baby can’t help it. That’s why I want you to be the adult that does not have an inside voice, who definitely knows better but chooses to throw social acceptability to the wind. I want the whole plane to hear your inane conversation. You’ll get a bonus point if this is a very early or very late flight, if you’re forcing an unwilling seat mate into the conversation, and if you’re talking about something awful, like cancel culture.
There’s a lot of debate about whether or not seat reclining is acceptable or the worst behavior ever displayed on an aircraft, so this one is going to require a little nuance. If you think the person behind you will hate having an inch of space encroached upon, recline that seat, friend. If the person in front of you reclines, tap them on the shoulder and ask them to please not recline, thank you.
Or play a game with obnoxious sound effects. After all, we know the entire plane is just dying to hear what you, the main character of life, is up to.
Spend the duration of your flight rearranging everything in your seat-back pocket, on the tray table, or under the seat, making sure that you bring your full butterfingers in tow. Really smack that seat in front of you around. Just have at it.
You’ll get a bonus point if you also throw yourself back into your own seat, disturbing the person behind you, too.
When the plane lands, whether or not you have a close connection, I’ll need you to stand up and start pushing your way past everyone to exit the plane first. This is a race. This is the race, the only one that matters. I need you crowding close behind everyone, reaching over heads for your overhead luggage, crawling over the middle and aisle seat passengers. Free yourself from this airline prison — and for the love of god, get yourself away from all the people you just spent the afternoon annoying.