My Pet Peeves While Flying – Am I Justified or Just Being a Jerk?

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my pet peeves while flying

My Pet Peeves While Flying – Am I Justified or Just Being a Jerk?

I thought I knew all of my pet peeves while flying.  The main one I have is people bringing stinky food on the plane. On my recent flight home from Las Vegas I realized there are two more pet peeves while flying that I can add to my list.

I was on a red-eye flight home which played a huge role in both of these annoyances. Red-eye flights are not my favorite but I was able to snag a first class seat for 22,500 Virgin Atlantic miles.  That is essentially 17,300 Membership Rewards points with their current promo.

RELATED: Why You Should Always Download the Airline’s App Before Flying

my pet peeves while flying


The flight was supposed to take off at 12:00 AM PDT or 3 AM my local time but there was a big storm rolling through.  That caused some flight delays and my departure was changed to 1:30 AM PDT or 4:30 AM my time.  Even though Delta handled it better than anything I have experienced before I was still irritable and tired. The delay and my exhaustion played a role in me getting aggravated but I still think I am justified.

The first pet peeve came from the people two rows behind me. They talked the entire flight!  For most flights this wouldn’t be an issue but this was an overnight flight so I thought it was kind of rude.  And it wasn’t hushed talking either. It was more like restaurant conversation loud.  I had on headphones most of the time so it wasn’t horrible but I couldn’t believe they didn’t shut up at some point.

The second one was the person in front of me put their window shade up.  This isn’t a problem for the first half of the flight, when it is dark.  As soon as the sun rose it was shockingly bright.  Nothing wakes you up quicker than sun on your face.

There is no reason to leave the blind up on an overnight flight. I also think it is something the flight attendants should have intervened with.  I think it shows a complete lack of respect to other customers.  If you want to read etc. then turn on your overhead light.  Nope, he was just watching TV so there was no reason to even have it open.


These two pet peeves led to a less than great flight experience and mainly revolve around it being a red-eye flight.  I think different rules should apply on overnight flights.  Let me know if you agree or if you think I am just being a jerk in the comments section.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. Totally understandable with getting irritated for the people talking loudly. I would get irritated too, so I think you are justified there. However, coming from someone who experiences motion sickness during flying, sometimes keeping the window open during the cruise part of the flight really makes me feel better (at least mentally :P). But I understand your sentiments too!

    • A couple other people have brought that up and that makes sense Crystal. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. Some years ago we were flying AA JFK-FCO and I had finally accrued enough miles to splurge on business award seats rather than our usual economy since this trip was to celebrate my 60th. My husband was always a basket case after those flights, so we were excited. Well, the single guy across the aisle from my husband started chatting with the woman next to him – and it went on ALL night. Couple that with those sloping biz seats back then and — my husband was….. It happens. My husband hates eyeshades and earplugs, but luckily he’s losing some of his hearing!! Get old – it may be the solution – LOL.

  3. Would Chipotle’s burrito bowl be considered stinky food? (it’s basically a mexican taco salad) It’s my go to for flying for some reason. I’m not one that is bothered by the smell of food but I honestly don’t know if it is bothering my fellow passengers? I feel like you should write a blog post about which foods don’t smell bad to you and which types do so we have a better idea what to avoid. I think there’s quite a lot of us that are genuinely innocent and have no idea it is inconveniencing anyone else when we’re eating…

    Oh and for noise issues, everyone should check out Mighty Plug earplugs, they are absolutely magical and so much better then foam earplugs. You could use them solo or if you’re very sensitive, along with your noise cancelling headphones and you definitely wouldn’t hear a peep. They rule for swimming and snorkeling also since they’re waterproof. I never travel without them especially when hotels can be very loud at night too…

    • Sharee – I have no idea on the burrito bowl 🙂

      Thanks for the good tip on the earplugs I will have to check them out

  4. I think you are asking more from the other passengers than is fair. If you get in their face about it, or disturb others with your requests, that would be being a jerk.

    You are responsible for your own comfort. Knowing you are on a red-eye, and want to sleep in that communal space where not everybody will be asleep, I would expect you to wear earplugs and eyeshades. I have both in my carry-on bag, though I don’t generally use them.

    Claustrophobics strongly prefer their window open. And many of us enjoy the view of the stars from 41,000 feet. Decreeing that others should keep their windows closed because there’s nothing *you* want to see outside them is bizarre.

    As for talking… that’s what people traveling together do. And they need to speak loudly enough to be heard over the ambient noise of the plane. Again, earplugs. With a noise-cancelling headset over that, if the earplugs aren’t enough.

    • Fair points Randy. Have you not noticed the Flight Attendants asking people to close the shades in overnight flights before? Not saying everyone has to abide by it but I think that is the normal protocol. As for the talking they could have done it at a much lower volume, trust me. But as you say I can combat both with proper planning. Thanks for the comment Randy

      • I remember “stewardesses” asking that shades be closed so the in-flight movie could be seen more easily :-). More recently, flight attendants just ask that they be open for takeoff and landing (for safety, as another commenter mentioned). I personally prefer them closed to keep the sun out, and don’t mind them open at night while it’s dark; but as I choose aisle seats in most cases, I’m not the one who decides.

  5. Mark,

    I also appreciate the fact that you take the time to read (AND RESPOND) to every comment. A sincere thank you to you!

    • My favorite part of the job Scott 🙂 – well most of the time at least haha

      It has always annoyed me when I comment and no one responds on other websites.

  6. My pet peeves with this article! lol
    PST when it should be PDT.
    My Local Time – why add this? — brings back memories of “Is that Chicago time?”

    • Thanks Casey I will update to PDT. Figured it was important to understand my local time which played into my irritability and why I was hoping to rest during the flight – sorry if that didn’t make sense to you.

  7. I can see where that is annoying. Did you ask the windows shade guy if he could lower his shade and the talkers could they please keep it down?

    • No there was no way to really talk to the people behind me without bothering others and I was already up because of the sunlight so I didn’t see the point by then. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep.

  8. I agree on both. It’s a matter of courtesy. I was on a flight from JFK to CDG and there were two women behind me who didn’t shut up the entire flight. This was back in the day when noise cancelling headphones were rare or outrageously expensive. I was so exhausted the next morning trying to make my next connection.

  9. While we’re on the subject of pet peeves, Can you please make your email paragraphs longer and more descriptive so I know more about what your going to write about?

    Your one or two baitclicking sentences in your emails are a pet peeve I have for all bloggers/newsletters, etc that I Subscribe to.

    I get it, you want me to click the story in the email to generate page views but it’s often more frustrating than not.

  10. I watched the sunrise out the window of an Asiana A380 in business class en route to Sydney last year and felt no shame. 😉

    I’d be more conscientious if in Y with others in my row.

    The talking, though, would really annoy me (and I’d *never* do it to others around me). But, as others have said, not much you can really do. Nor is it something I think the FAs should intervene in. On our overnight long haul to Paris, I had to shush my kids more than once who didn’t realize how loud they were talking with headphones on.

    • We are running a poll in the FB group and people not even attempting to control their kids is running away with it so funny that you said that.

  11. Always expect the worst from people while traveling. We did an overnight from BOS to DUB many years ago, two people behind us did the same thing and loudly talked all night acrossed the Atlantic. Eyemasks, earplugs and a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones would’ve let us get a few hours sleep, instead it was full zombie mode on landing. Live & learn.

      • Weird. You ask for commentary on your experience then get triggered when someone responds in a manner you dont like. Im mostly shocked that you still pretend that others are thoughtful/aware of others around them. People are selfish and self absorbed and kinda surprised you havent discovered this yet.

        • We ask people to use the same name when commenting. As you can see in other places where others have disagreed I have had no issue. Gonna ask you to use the same name going forward as well.

  12. i have the opposite problem. i don’t like when people put the shades down when it’s bright sunlight outside. it’s much better for jet lag to go with the flow of whatever time it is outside. i’ve experienced this several times on SQ2 from SIN to SFO. they put down the shades, make the cabin feel like it’s night-time (my theory is that’s to knock out the passengers so the flight attendants can relax), then reach SFO at 9pm when ideally we should be ready to sleep rather than well-rested after a fake night-time. i always struggle to stay awake on that flight, especially the second leg, when it wouldn’t be a problem if they let in the light a few hours into the flight.

  13. You are not a jerk.

    But I always have earplugs and an eyemask with me so not too big a deal for me.

    The stinky food problem though…maybe noseplugs??!!

  14. Agree on 1.
    Disagree on 2.
    Yes, people can talk, but on a red-eye when people are trying to sleep, at least keep it down.
    People can have as many reasons to want the blind open as closed. It’s their blind. You lose. That’s what eyelids are for.

    • Does the person sitting next to the window get to decide for the whole row on whether it should be up or down? What if the person next to them is bothered by it being opened etc? I just am not sure if one person has the right to the shade that can effect many others etc. Just a thought. Usually FA will tell people to keep them closed on overnight flights, in my experience at least.

      • The person sitting by the window controls the shade. End of story. Some people pick the window seat because they like to look out the window. And not everyone wants to watch TV.

  15. Clearly there are more than even 2 sides to this. I wish at least people would soften their volume when yapping, red-eye or not. At least they’re not boinking. Window is a matter of just asking. But the FAs could be a little better about trying to make their pax more comfortable and that includes shade control IMHO

  16. i think you’re wrong on both parts.. that have every right to talk…..maybe take the tone down, ok….the window shade, that would be me for two reasons. 1, I like to watch the sunrise and or see where we are but for a short time then lower it. 2, I get dizzy on a flight looking out the window helps relieve that issue. Cheers to you…

    • Can’t argue with you much on point two – I don’t mind talking but they could have toned it down a lot for sure.

  17. WIll make a deal… I’ll close the shade when above 10,000 if you keep it open when on the ground/on climbout/on decent. Your desire to have it closed is to facilitate sleep. My desire to keep it open is for safety. I HAVE had to egress aircraft on the ground several times due to emergencies, and having the shade open gives the obvious advantage of being able to see where the issue is (i.e. will I be exiting INTO the fire or fire truck) and also allows a first responder to see in to get a quick first look at what seats may still be occupied, etc.

    As for the talking…. argh… I feel your pain!

    • Good point Paul – no issues for take off or landing you are gonna be awake for that most of the time anyway.

  18. You are not a jerk – it is so irritating that some are so oblivious to other passengers around them. Yes, there are earplugs/headphones and eyeshades, but what a shame that everyone else needs to compensate for their lack of courtesy.

  19. Yes it’s annoying but it’s not a big deal. I fly international in economy a lot from SFO to SYD and I do this several times a year. I’ve had my fair share of talkers and crying babies. So what do I do to combat this? For noise, I use both earplugs and noise cancelling headphones and for eyes use eyeshades. Problem solved.

  20. Well I would never consider you to be a jerk, but I think you may be guilty of overthinking the moment(s). It comes with age sadly and not experience as we would all like to think. Take that chill pill and rejoice you have the means to fly at all, ignoring why sweaty bastards can also enjoy the same. Keep travelling, always both informative and entertaining. Cheers

    • Sure but everything to do with flying is a first world problem. Should we not expect common courtesy when dealing with something that is considered a “first world problem”?

  21. I agree. Both very annoying things. However, both can also be combatted with noise cancelling headphones and an eye mask. I get it, you shouldn’t have to do those things and they’re the ones who should stop their bad behavior. But maybe the people who were talking the whole time are day time sleepers and work graveyard shifts, so this is normal to them. And maybe the guy with the window shade open feels claustrophobic with the window shade down. Who knows? But whatever the case, there are methods to combat it.


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