clipping nails
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Is Clipping Nails Aboard an Airplane Considered Disgusting?

“I think it’s a little different on an airplane, especially on a very long flight, where you’re kind of confined. I don’t do extensive manicuring but if I have a ragged nail or hangnail I’ll snip it off discreetly. Either that or you can watch me chew on it for a long time. I certainly don’t clip a nail or comb my hair while food is on the trays, but if everyone had to retire to the lavatory to do these minor chores they would be even more crowded than they are! The close confines of airplane seats require us to put up with people’s daily activities more than we would probably like – such as listening to personal conversations, hearing people snore, etc. But I don’t think we need to call all of it ‘disgusting’.”

This is the response posted by FlyerTalk member NotSoFrequentColorado — who does not know why so many people think clipping fingernails is disgusting — after FlyerTalk member Calchas asked “Do you clip your nails at a restaurant, at a bar or at your office?”, concluding that “An aircraft is a public space”.

Is Clipping Nails Aboard an Airplane Disgusting?

“Nails and hair are the same thing”, reasoned NotSoFrequentColorado. “Hair can fly too, if you comb it. Is combing hair disgusting too?”

Essentially, that statement is true. Both nails and hair are comprised of dead cells as well as a fibrous structural protein called keratin; but keratin is also the key structural material of which your epidermis — or outer layer of your skin — is comprised…

…and although it probably happens countless times every day, I am certain that most people would not think that skin flakes falling into their food would be considered appetizing — let alone strands of hair or clippings of nails.

There are reasons why health codes in many areas require the use of hair nets — such as in the state of Minnesota, for example — and gloves during the preparation of food at restaurants and other dining establishments.

Other than when food and beverages are served aboard an airplane during a flight, the interior of an airplane is not considered a dining establishment — but does any passenger really want the possibility of the hair or nail residue from someone else to pervade in their personal space?


If it is at all possible, personal grooming should be done in privacy and not at a seat in an airplane. Take care of it either before or after the flight; or repair to the lavatory if necessary during a flight. Unless it is considered an emergency of sorts, the personal grooming can wait. This includes the combing and brushing of hair; the clipping of fingernails and toenails; the polishing of fingernails and toenails; the brushing of teeth…

…and especially the clearing of nasal passages and residue between teeth. Subjecting passengers to possible unidentified flying objects is downright disgusting — let alone rude — in my opinion.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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