No matter whether you are an avid traveler and travel regularly for business purposes, or participate out of necessity to visit friends or family in other parts of the country or world, there are certain things that every traveler must know.
To be a safer and more courteous traveler, don’t make the following mistakes. Avoiding some of these behaviors will keep you from getting on your fellow fliers’ nerves; avoiding others could even save your life.
Read on to learn what you should never do while flying on a plane.
#1. Say No To Contact Lenses While Flying.
If you can, opt to wear glasses in flight. The air in the cabin is very dry and can cause irritation to your eyes. Also, if you’re a known sky snoozer, falling asleep in contacts not made for overnight wear can be especially irritating.
#2. Avoid Using Pillows And Blankets Provided In Flights.
Another airplane item that doesn’t get a thorough cleaning between flights? Yup, those blankets, and pillows offered in the seatback are recycled flight to flight and usually don’t get properly washed until the day is over. Items like pillows and blankets are ideal places for germs and lice to camp out and spread from person to person.
#3. Treating Clogged Ears Due To Pressure.
Your ears become clogged while taking off and landing because of the pressure difference. The first impulse of any person is to unclog his or her ears. This method doesn’t work, but you can minimize the uncomfortable sensation in the following ways:
Make sucking and swallowing movements. Grown-ups can use candy or chewing gum, while a bottle of water is helpful for kids.
Close and open your mouth once in a while.
“Blow off” your ears: you should breathe in, then pinch your nose with your fingers and breathe out, like you are pushing the air through your ears. This method should be used carefully if you have allergic sniffles or a runny nose.
If your ears are still clogged, you need to visit a doctor.
#4. Don’t Sit Motionless For Long.
During a flight, your blood circulation is slower, and sitting without any movement increases the risk of thrombosis. Follow some simple rules to avoid it:
Stand up, and take short walks around the cabin.
Wear clothing that doesn’t constrict your movement.
Take your shoes off during the flight.
In case you have blood circulation troubles, take compression socks or tights with you.
Once in a while, take some exercise. It is enough to just lift and drop down your toes and heels.
#5. Avoid Using Bathroom.
Like other public spaces on the plane, the bathroom is also a major place where germs hideout. To protect yourself, wash your hands thoroughly and use a paper towel to press the flush button and open the door. “When you go to the bathroom, the right thing to do is always wash your hands, dry your hands with a towel, and then use the towel to turn off the water and even open up the door,” says Dr. Forest. “You don’t want to not flush the toilet, everyone should flush the toilet, but wash your hands with soapy water and use a towel.”
#6. Don’t Rub Your Nose.
With airplanes being such tight quarters, it often comes as no surprise to hear the importance of sanitizing and disinfecting every space you come in contact and ensuring you wash your hands constantly, but have you thought about how often you touch your face? Didn’t think so.
Whether scratching that itch on your nose or rubbing your sleepy eyes, Dr. Ferrer suggests against this. “Germs often spread when you rub/touch your face or nose,” he said. “Resist the urge! We transmit germs from around the nose and mouth by getting in contact with our own secretions.” Gross.
#7. Avoid Drinking Too Much.
No one will complain if you have a glass of wine with dinner, but over-indulging in alcohol can have consequences ranging from dehydration to even getting kicked off the plane for disorderly behavior. Remember: No one wants to sit next to the guy who reeks of alcohol, passes out on your shoulder or throws up on your shoes.
#8. Avoid The Aisle Seat If Possible.
Whether the front or back of the plane, emergency exit row, or aisle or the window, every person who has ever flown likely has a seat preference. Personally, I like to be closer to the front and seated by the window; this is mostly so I can get comfortable and pull out my laptop to work without worrying that someone else is going to need me to get up so they can use the restroom.
As it turns out, there may be more to my seat preference than I even knew as Dr. Dybis suggests avoiding the aisle seat, if you have the choice. “Aisle seats themselves get more exposure to germs from the number of people walking up and down the aisle,” he said. “You also put yourself into closer contact with more people by sitting on the aisle.” Window seat for the win!
#9. Don’t Sprawl Out.
Flying can be so uncomfortable for everyone and aside from the aforementioned courtesy to give the middle armrest to the poor soul stuck in the middle seat, it’s also important to mention that you should not sprawl out beyond your seat.
“If you’re squeezed int the coach and your shoulders are touching, that’s about the limit of seat sprawl,” said McGilligan. He went on to add that your feet, legs, arms or any other part of your body should not venture past the imaginary line that is the outer edge of your armrest.
Aside from the common courtesy, we’ve all seen flight attendants get stuck with their carts for a moment because someone’s foot was in the way or we’ve had an elbow hit because it was sticking out into the aisle and someone didn’t realize it was there. Be kind, stay in your space, and of course, don’t fall asleep on your neighbor’s shoulder.
#10. Avoid Drinking Coffee Or Tea.
You don’t want to drink anything that could possibly be made with the tap water from the plane. Even though the water for tea and coffee is usually boiled if you can opt for bottled water or another beverage from a sealed container you should. Another reason to avoid coffee and tea: Caffeinated beverages aren’t your best bet while flying.
#11. Fussing With Your Seat Belt.
The Today show investigators also found that seat belts were pretty icky — they, too, were covered with potentially harmful bacteria. While strapping in is obviously your only option and you should definitely do it, avoid touching the strap after you fasten it, and put your hand sanitizer to use after buckling in.
#12. Never Use Both The Armrests.
It might be convenient for you, but you need to respect the personal space of your co-passengers.
#13. Don’t Try A New Medication For The First Time.
Where would you rather be when you discover that Ambien makes you hallucinate or that you’re allergic to your new iron supplement — at home, with easy access to your doctor and a local hospital, or in a metal tube hurtling 35,000 feet above the Pacific? Never take a medicine in flight that you haven’t already taken for a test run at home.
#14. Sleeping While Takeoff Or Landing.
When the plane ascends or descends, the air pressure around you changes faster than the air inside your ears. If you’ve ever flown before, you know this can be super uncomfortable — but only temporarily. To equalize the pressure, all you need to do is chew gum; inhale, then exhale gently as you hold your mouth and nose shut; suck on candy; or yawn, according to MedlinePlus. In other words, you’re better off awake. Accidentally sleep through the pressure change, and this condition will only get more uncomfortable, potentially instigating dizziness, ear infection, slight hearing loss, eardrum damage, or nosebleeds and severe hearing loss in the worst of cases.