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5 Things to Never Do on a Plane, According to Travel Influencer Who Sparked Debate

Influencer wants every passenger to follow certain guidelines while traveling and some are pushing back.

It seems like unruly travelers have been the topic of conservation daily online recently, so influencer Ben Keenan reposted his travel etiquette tips, which has sparked debate on TikTok. In the clip, the 30-year-old lays out an extensive list of do's and don'ts that include being nice to flight attendants, everyone must wear headphones when using a device and keep shoes on, but not everyone agrees. Read on to learn why the guidelines have caused a stir and some backlash.

Don't Forget to Greet the Flight Attendants

United airlines flight USA; a flight attendant is seen helping travelers in first class on an airplane in mid flight

The first tip Keenan gave was to say hi to the flight attendants and besides common courtesy, he explained why. "At the very bare minimum you need to be greeting the flight attendants at the beginning of the flight. Not only are they not paid for that time they're going to be standing there, but they're also going to be looking for able bodied individuals that can help during an emergency. And guess who's rude [butt] is not going to be on that short list if it comes to it. Your life could be in my hands, so you better shape up."

Do Not Take Off Your Shoes


Taking shoes off during a flight is something many people do, but Keenan stated that's something you should never do.  "Do not take off your shoes or socks when you're sitting in your seat, you disgusting people." Although Keenan doesn't explain why, there are reasons to keep your shoes on, according to experts. "Cabins are cleaned prior to every flight, but that will be more perfunctory on a quick turn when there are only 15 or 20 minutes to get it done," pilot Patrick Smith of Ask the Pilot tells Travel + Leisure. Planes are not deep cleaned often, so it's possible to pick up bacteria and viruses on an aircraft for anyone who decides to go barefoot. "Likewise, the concern of picking up a fungal infection is always there as well," David Krause, owner of SyQuest USA, which manufactures cleaning products used on airplanes, tells T+L. In addition, feel can swell during a flight, making it difficult to put shoes back on, and feet can have an unpleasant odor, so proper etiquette would be to keep shoes on during a flight. 

Do Not Change Your Baby's Diaper on the Seat


Keenan doesn't want anyone changing a baby's diaper in a seat and demands people go to the bathroom. "I shouldn't have to say this, but I feel like it's necessary for some of you. You are not going to change your baby's diaper in the seat. There's a changing table in the bathroom for a reason." However, parents often complain about how small the changing table is if there is one and how challenging it is trying to carry your child and diaper bag into a small space. And what if you're traveling alone with more than one kid? You can't leave them alone, so some parents are opting to change their baby on their lap if need be, according to a Reddit subgroup. However, most agreed to use the restroom whenever possible. 

Don't Forget to Figure Out What Type of Traveler You Are in Advance


Trying to fall asleep on the flight is hard enough, but if you're trying to rest and if you're in the aisle, Keenan says to rethink your seat selection.  "When selecting your seat before the flight, go ahead and determine what type of flier you are. Are you someone that sleeps or someone that's awake? If you're on an aisle seat, then you need to be prepared to stand up and move out of the way multiple times during the flight. I think this sucks, but that truly means you should not be a sleeper." 

Be Thoughtful When Reclining Your Seat

cabin seats airplane

Getting comfortable on a flight is near impossible, but one way travelers try to relax is by reclining their seat. But  according to Keenan, there's a correct way to lean back. "If you're going to recline your seat, go ahead and make sure that the people behind you aren't resting their head on your seat or using that tray table. Do you know how many times I've been smashed in the head by somebody who just aggressively leaned back?"

Don't Bring Smelly Foods on a Plane


Since many airlines don't provide great food choices, many people opt to bring their own and Keenan wants passengers to be mindful about what type of food they're carrying on the plane. "If you are standing there with this many people who brought fish products onto the plane and you are one of them, you are the worst type of person. The general rule of thumb is if it has an odor to it, it has no business being on a giant metal tube sailing across the sky." 

The Praise

Close-up of woman using smartphone sending emojis.

Many fellow travelers agreed with Keenan on his etiquette tips and praised his video. One wrote, "Can we please make this a mandatory video that every person must watch prior to boarding any flight??!!! Please." Another added: "Why don't people know these things!!!! Someone else joked, "This exact video needs to be played before and after the demo." One person shared, "I had someone beside me open a ziplock bag of 6 boiled eggs on a 5 hour flight and proceed to peel and eat every single one. I have not recovered," and Keenan responded, "I simply cannot."  

​​The Backlash

southwest airlines is one of americas most admired companies

While many thought the suggested travel guidelines were spot on, others took issue with a few of the tips.  "Nope… definitely taking my shoes off!" one top comment pushed back. "And I'm not turning back to check… I will recline gently though." "Mostly agree but sorry I'm taking my shoes off," another viewer weighed in. Another added, "No shoes off? There are airlines that provide bags for me to put my shoes in when I inevitably take them off. It's fine." Someone else commented, "I'm so sorry. take my shoes off…. I wear flip flops. But my feet swell but I keep them on my bag that I put in front of me under the seat." Another stated, "I have to take my shoes off as my feet swell and I wouldn't be able to walk properly when we land." One viewer wrote, "The chair reclines at the beginning of the flight, and stays that way till the end." Another asked, "What am I to do if there isn't a changing table in the bathroom?" A mom commented, "There are not changing tables on all airplanes. My baby poops… I'm changing that diaper. We even asked if there was a better place." And one user wrote, "Hey! I paid for my ticket and will do what I want."


Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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