These Are The Unspoken Rules Of Flying, According To A New Survey

There’s nothing worse than being seated next to someone rude or inconsiderate on a flight.

But how do you know if you’re sitting next to someone inconsiderate or if you’re the inconsiderate one?

Many people simply aren’t sure what is and isn’t acceptable on a plane. Can you bring your own food on board? Sleep on an early morning flight? And should you recline your seat or not?

Kayak has conducted a survey of American travelers, harnessing public opinion to discover what the unspoken rules of flying are.

These are the results:

A Question Of Feet

Do your feet swell when you fly? You’re not alone! Despite this, 56% of passengers say you shouldn’t take your shoes off on a plane.

And if you do take your shoes off? A whopping 76% of respondents to the survey believe your socks must stay on.

A young woman with her feet up on a plane

You should also keep your feet firmly on the floor.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing shoes, socks, or nothing at all; 68% of travelers say your feet should always stay on the floor rather than propped up on the back of the chair in front of you.

The Price Of Beauty

The overwhelming consensus is that the plane is no time to take care of your beauty needs. There simply isn’t room!

If your hair is a mess, then worry about it when you get off the plane because 72% of passengers don’t want you to brush your hair on board.

Unsurprisingly, 74% of passengers want you to keep your hair to yourself, keeping it in your own seat rather than draping it over theirs.

Passengers boarding a crowded plane

81% of respondents agree that you shouldn’t file your nails on a plane, 92% say you shouldn’t clip your nails, and 90% don’t want to see you plucking your eyebrows either.

Even doing your makeup on the plane is frowned upon. The space is just too small to take care of any of your beauty needs.

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?

Do you like to use your flight time as an opportunity to catch up on some sleep? The good news is that most people don’t have a problem with plane napping.

But there are some exceptions to this rule. If you snore, then 66% of people believe you should forego your nap and keep your eyes open.

A female passenger sleeping on a male passenger on a plane

77% of people agree that it’s never OK to lean on a stranger’s shoulder when you fall asleep on a plane. And you’re not allowed to drool, according to 57% of people.

If you’re a hard or deep sleeper, then this will bother 66% of your fellow passengers, who will struggle to wake you and get past you if they need to use the bathroom.

Snack Struggles

Not everyone wants to eat their in-flight meal, so it’s perfectly acceptable to bring your own finger foods on board, according to 54% of respondents.

But what you eat is more contentious.


66% agree that fresh eggs are a big no-no, and 84% will judge you silently if you bring BBQ ribs on a plane.

55% don’t want to hear you eating crunchy foods, and 85% know that gassy foods will only end in problems.

Pizza is also ruled out, according to 76% of passengers.

With 92% of passengers saying that no one should bring smelly food on board, it’s important to think carefully about your in-flight snacks.

The Needs Of Friends And Family

If you’re traveling as part of a group, then you may want to sit together, even if you don’t have reserved seats.

If you ask politely, 54% of passengers agree you’re allowed to ask to switch seats, and 58% of passengers feel it’s over to ask to sit next to a friend or family member.

Not everyone loves to hear kids on board a plane, but most passengers understand they have as much right to be there as anyone else. 74% of passengers believe it’s OK to bring a baby on board, and 78% of passengers believe it’s OK to bring a toddler on board.

Passengers on seat during flight with man walking in aisle. Interior of airplane with people sitting on seats. People traveling by plane.

72% of respondents think it’s OK to introduce yourself to your seatmate if you’ve never met before.

No matter how nice the person sitting next to you seems though, you should never ask to borrow their stuff. 86% of travelers agree that this would put them in an uncomfortable position.

Seat Choice Matters

We all know that the middle seat is the most uncomfortable on the plane. But just because you’re seated in the middle seat doesn’t mean you can claim both of the armrests, according to 57% of respondents.

If you get the window seat, though, consideration goes out the window! 77% of people believe that the person in that seat controls the window and can decide whether the shade is up or down.

A man looking out of a plane window

Comfort also doesn’t come into consideration when it comes to seat reclining, with 88% of passengers agreeing that you can recline if you want to. There wouldn’t be a recline button if you weren’t supposed to use it!

Lastly, unless it’s a real emergency, 66% of passengers feel it’s inconsiderate to call the flight attendant over more than once per flight.

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