LIFE

10 Things You Should Never Do On An Airplane

Christin Perry LitteThings writer by Christin Perry
Christin is a mom and editor specializing in lifestyle content. She also hides cookies like a boss.

Whether you love flying or live in paralyzing fear of boarding an airplane, you can’t deny that planes are an essential (and convenient!) mode of long-distance travel. And while it’s undeniably amazing to be able to reach far-flung destinations like Australia or Indonesia in mere hours rather than weeks or months, not everything about air travel is glamorous — or even pleasant. Moreover, flying can even affect your health! We’ve compiled some simple rules to follow to make it all slightly easier to endure. Some are meant to keep you healthy, while others are meant to keep you as comfortable as possible (and yes, we realize comfortable is a loose term when you’re stuck in the middle seat in coach!). Follow these rules to upgrade your next in-flight experience.

1. Don’t Forget to Get Up and Move Around

1. Don’t Forget to Get Up and Move Around
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If your destination requires you to spend lots of hours on a plane, make sure you get up and stretch your legs on the regs. Many passengers avoid getting up as much as possible so they don’t annoy nearby passengers, but it’s important for your health, so go ahead and take a stroll up and down the aisle every now and then. This helps you to avoid swelling and muscle cramps, and even the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms in a vein, typically in your leg. Staying hydrated is another way to keep that blood flow moving, and it’ll have you heading down the aisle to the loo more often, which we consider a win-win!

2. Don’t Eat off the Tray Table

2. Don’t Eat off the Tray Table
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You know that tray table that has to stay in the “upright and locked position” during take-off? Well, you might want to consider leaving it that way. Admittedly, it’s a super convenient place to put your laptop or tablet, but let it end there. If you have to eat on a plane, either spread out a napkin, use a good-quality antibacterial wipe on the table first, or just avoid it entirely. Why? Studies show the tray table is hands down the germiest place on a plane—even ickier than the toilet. Gag.

3. Don't Drink the Water in the Bathroom

3. Don't Drink the Water in the Bathroom
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Ever noticed the sign above the sink in airplane bathrooms that indicates the water is non-potable? It’s there for a reason. But have you ever wondered why? The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) endeavored to find out, and their findings are pretty much in line with your worst fears: Out of 158 samples of water from airplane bathroom taps, 20 contained some form of bacteria, a few of which were identified as E. coli, which is particularly dangerous. So, feel free to use the water to wash your hands (otherwise, you’ll create a bunch of other problems for yourself and other passengers), but definitely skip drinking it and instead, opt for a bottle of water from a flight attendant.

4. Don't Partake in the In-Flight Tea and Coffee Service

4. Don't Partake in the In-Flight Tea and Coffee Service
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We crave caffeine as much as the next traveler, but these beverages are made with tap water from the airplane (see above!), which basically makes them just as risky as drinking out of the airplane bathroom tap. If you’re thirsty, stick with the cold beverages offered by the flight attendants, like bottled water, juice or soda. And really, even beer and wine are probably safer bets than tap water, tea or coffee.

 

 

5. Don't Fail to Adjust to the Time at Your Destination

5. Don't Fail to Adjust to the Time at Your Destination
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One of the best ways to minimize jet lag? Adjust your watch (and your mindset!) to the time at your destination from the moment you step onto the plane. Even if it’s the middle of the day at home, if it’s late at night at your destination, you should do your best to sleep through the flight (just as you would sleep through the night if you were already there). We’re not saying it’s easy, but it’s essential to mitigating jet lag. Try a sleep mask, mild medication to help you sleep (make sure you’ve tried it before) and some calming music to promote sleepiness.

6. Don't Ignore the Seatbelt Light

6. Don't Ignore the Seatbelt Light
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You’ve finally reached altitude and everything seems smooth. If you’re like most people, you’re itching to remove that seat belt and enjoy your flight. But most pilots say, not so fast! Remember that with air travel, pilots and flight attendants are privy to a ton of information that passengers just don’t have. That means they know when and where turbulence may occur, when sharp turns need to be made, and when the plane needs to suddenly change speed or altitude. And since airplanes can fly as fast as 500 miles per hour, accidents can definitely happen if you’re not buckled in. Think about it: if you were in a car going 500 miles per hour, would you take off your seatbelt? We sure wouldn’t!

7. Don't Forget to Go!

7. Don't Forget to Go!
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To the bathroom, that is. We’ve all been victims of the eye rolls of huffy seatmates when we squeeze past them to use the bathroom, but they can handle it, because it’s necessary. Holding your bladder for too long can lead to a urinary tract infection or even a bladder infection. So next time you fly, either snag an aisle seat or just suck it up and remember how important it is to head to the bathroom when nature calls.

8. Don’t Skip Meds if You Suffer from Motion Sickness

8. Don’t Skip Meds if You Suffer from Motion Sickness
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We’re all for toughing it out sometimes. Just not when the end result is revisiting your lunch into a bag the size of a postage stamp while sandwiched between two perfect strangers. So if you know you suffer from motion sickness on flights, plan ahead and bring medication to take before your flight starts. Luckily, now there are non-drowsy versions of most go-to medications, so you can actually remember your own name when you check in for a flight. Bonus! For a medication-free option, try the bands that fit around your pulse points and help relieve nausea.

9. Don't Use the Self Check-In Kiosks

9. Don't Use the Self Check-In Kiosks
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Sure, they’re more convenient than waiting in line to check in with a human, but the computerized check-in kiosks have been found to be among the germiest spots in the whole airport! It looks like checking in to your flight on your phone offers more than just convenience—it may just protect you from a host of nasty germs.

10. Don't Mistreat Flight Attendants

10. Don't Mistreat Flight Attendants
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Flying can be frustrating. Anytime you pack hundreds of people into such a tight space for several hours, tempers can certainly flare. But if you find yourself starting to get hot under the collar about something mid-flight, do your best to give the flight attendants a break; after all, they work long shifts, they’re on their feet for hours on end, and they deal with a lot of difficult situations during each shift. Not only that, flight attendants totally have the power to kick you off the flight you’ve paid money for, so here’s one instance where it’s best to just, you know, not be a jerk.