The 14 worst types of people to sit next to on a plane

Rude and ridiculous passengers on planes

Flying to your destination used to be reserved for the rich and famous, now everyone, including the trouserless can enjoy the convenience of flight.

Air travel is a miracle – but it's also a nightmare. It's being stuffed into a small metal tube with a couple of hundred strangers for hours on end. It's having to put up with all those strangers' quirks and annoyances, having to suffer others' unchecked behaviour until such time as the doors open and you can get out of there.

The bulk of travellers are actually pretty good with flying: they're courteous, they're considerate. But there are others who aren't. These are the people you really don't want to have to sit near…

The Obsessive Recliner

DFMD31 passenger relaxing during flight in a not fully occupied economy class A380 Airbus
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Photo: Alamy

I'm a firm believer in everyone's right to recline their seat in order to sleep on long-haul flights. That's what they're designed for. But then there are the types who take it too far, who flip their seats back the minute the sign goes off (or before), and never raise them again – not for meals, not for anything. Nightmare.

The Contortionist

BCWFGC Young woman listening to music on headphones sleeps curled up in coach class on Delta Airlines plane asleep MR ©Myrleen Pearson
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Photo: Alamy

You know the person, the one who can't get comfortable sitting straight in the seat, who twists themselves into all sorts of ambitious, yoga-esque positions, positions that inevitably result in stray arms or legs or even a head making their way into your seat territory.

The Armrest Hog

Gotta say, this is usually men, the ones who ease themselves into their chair and then just dominate the armrests like there's no possible way anyone else could have a claim to that space. The Armrest Hog is also very likely going to be…

The Man-Spreader

Legs akimbo, spread wide enough to fit a suitcase between them. Knees clearly muscling in on someone else's space. Thighs making their way under the armrests. This is the man-spreader, the bloke who takes up far more room than he really needs because he's a man and he can lay claim to as much space as he feels like. Thanks, mate.

The Hand-Lugger

Assistant to the Duchess of Cambridge's Private Secretary Sophie Agnew (left) and the Duchess of Cambridge's PA and Stylist Natasha Archer carry items of luggage as they arrive at Tezpur Airport in Assam, India, on day three of the Royal visit to India and Bhutan.. Picture date: Tuesday April 12, 2016. See PA story ROYAL India. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire Excess hand luggage

Photo: AP

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You can spot the Hand-Lugger a mile away, with three or four pieces of carry-on, a few extra shopping bags, a wheelie suitcase, clearly flaunting the limits, struggling to get down the aisle in the plane because their excess luggage keeps getting wedged between the seats. And you know all that stuff is going in the overhead.

The Cougher

It's not like anyone means to be the Cougher. If you're sick, you're sick. Still, sitting next to someone who can't stop hacking or sneezing does serve as a brutal reminder that you're going to be spending the next few hours in a flying petri dish.

The Talker

"Geez, busy flight," says the talker, waiting patiently while you take out your headphones and ask him or her to repeat what they just said. Of course, people who are up for a chat on a plane are fine. It's the compulsive talkers you want to avoid, the ones who fail to pick up any of the signals that you're trying to keep to yourself and just natter on, and on, and on…

The Person Who Apparently Doesn't Own Headphones

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Photo: Shutterstock

WTF? How do people think it's reasonable to watch a movie on their phone or tablet when they haven't brought headphones?

The HAGE Sufferer

HAGE – pronounced "ha-gee" – is a totally made-up syndrome that stands for High Altitude Gas Expulsion, and it's what happens sometimes when you're high in the air and you suddenly start building up some serious wind that needs passing. It's unavoidable. But it's also best not to be seated next to someone who's suffering from it.

The Screamer

As someone who now has a young child, I have absolute sympathy for parents whose kids start cracking it in the middle of a long-haul flight. Total sympathy, and understanding. I still don't want to be sitting near them though.

The Drunk

Lots of people enjoy a cheeky drink when they're on a flight. Every now and then though, you wind up next to someone who's smashing drinks like they're a 17-year-old on schoolies, ordering another drink with the delivery of their first one, getting rowdy and obnoxious in a place where no one can escape them. Not ideal, in any sense.

The Seat Kicker

tra24-online-worst Worst passengers to sit next to

Photo: Shutterstock

This is a small thing that begins as a minor nuisance and gradually escalates into the most annoying thing in the world as the person behind you just keeps kicking, and kicking, and kicking the back of your seat. It's mostly annoying because you don't know when it will happen. Bump. Pause. Bump. Bump. Pause. Shove. It's enough to drive you mental.

The Morse Code Writer

Seatback touchscreens are great, until you get someone behind you who feels they have to smack their screen with full force every time they're trying to press a button, enough force so that you can feel it through the seat, the sensation that someone is trying to send you a Morse code message – smack, smack-smack, smack – rather than just find a new episode of Modern Family.

The Bare-Foot Explorer

B1KFT7 Man's bare feet on a plane, view from above.
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Photo: Alamy

To begin with, anyone who takes their socks off on a plane should be marched straight out the door. What's even worse, though, is when they decide to rest those stinky feet on the armrest in front of them, meaning you find actual human toes poking through from the seat behind you. Best way to deal with this is to put a little water on your fingers, make a really loud coughing noise, and flick water on the offending feet. Watch them quickly disappear.

Who do you hate sitting near on a plane? Are there certain types who annoy you?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

See also: 12 things tourists do that should be banned

See also: Hour by hour: My epic trip on board the world's longest flight

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