Madrid Airport terminal
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

These Are The 11 Worst Things You are Doing At The Airport?

he items which are listed below are the 11 worst things you are doing at the airport and therefore contribute to the “never-ending lines, crazy crowds and long layovers” which typically result in the overall stress and exhaustion of a passenger, according to this article written by Lexi Tollefsen — who is the lifestyle editorial fellow for the Huffington Post — but many of the behaviors listed below are really more of a subset of the actions of human beings in general than specifically geared towards airports in particular.

If you read The Gate regularly, it is possible that you most likely already know about the following annoyances; but just for fun, let us look at what are these “worst things” — along with commentary from me.

1. Arriving late.

Ensure that you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to park your vehicle if you drove there; check your luggage if you have any to check; anticipate long lines at the security checkpoint of the airport; and check in for the flight itself.

If you do show up too late for your flight, some airlines do have what is known as a “flat tire rule” in which you will automatically be assigned to a seat aboard the airplane on the next flight to your intended destination. Although this is an unwritten and unofficial rule, I know it exists because I have personally experienced it when a jackknifed tractor trailer truck blocked the highway to the airport on a rainy day some years ago and traffic was at a standstill — the accident had just happened because I was in one of the first cars waiting to proceed once the highway was cleared, so I was unable to learn about it beforehand — which prevented me from arriving in time for my flight. I was already assigned a seat on the next flight; and I was even able to change my seat assignment to a more preferable seat for me prior to the departure of the airplane for the flight.

2. Repacking an overweight bag at the check-in desk.

“If you are going to be carrying a lot of stuff,” wrote Tollefsen, “then please weigh your bag ahead of time and not be one of those people who has to repack an overweight bag at the desk where you check in for your flight.”

Most airlines do a good job of listing weight and size limits for luggage and baggage — whether you check your belongings or carry them aboard the airplane — as well as how many you are allowed to transport with you. If you go beyond any of those limits, the costs are usually clearly indicated.

People who do not take care to ensure that they are prepared for transporting their items may wind up paying extra in fees and contributing to the $59.2 billion in ancillary revenue which has been projected for airlines worldwide in 2015 alone.

3. Planning on stuffing your coat in the overhead bin.

“The overhead bins are for luggage, end of story”, wrote Tollefsen. “If your coat takes up that space, other passengers might have to check their bags if they can’t fit on the plane.”

Oh, yeah?!? Try telling that to members of FlyerTalk — some of them who will vehemently disagree with you and be vociferous about it…

4. Taking FOREVER in the security line.

Yes, there are people who wait until the very last second to take off their shoes, belt, watch and jacket at a security checkpoint at the airport. Yes, they do silly things like keeping large liquids in their carry on bags. Yes, they seem to suddenly forget to take their laptop computers out of their bags and put them in their own bins…

…but people seem to do this everywhere. For example, I never seem to be able to avoid that person who only first searches for the preferred method of payment for groceries when the total is calculated at the cash register in the line to check out of the supermarket — and that preferred payment is usually a bank check which is located at the bottom of whatever conveyance that person is searching. Time is then spent searching for the writing device used to first start filling out the check and recording the transaction in the register booklet.

That is when I realize that I need to shave again…

5. Blocking the escalator.

People tend to block things. Yes, they will be unaware of their surroundings — whether it is on an escalator or moving walkway where people are trying to pass to catch a flight and they refuse to move over or start moving forward themselves; on a highway where certain drivers must stay in the left lane poking along at a slow speed when the right lanes are available in which to pull over; or at a catered affair where they choose a doorway or an entrance to block while having a lively conversation so that no one can easily enter or exit.

People tend to block things. I have never understood why…

6. Treating the airport bathroom like your own.

Not me. A typical public washroom is most likely not clean; so you will not see me “set up shop” like some people who will brush their teeth; shave; insert contact lenses into their eyes; and take care of other personal hygiene functions in a public washroom…

…but I do always properly wash my hands and dry my hands before I exit one — whether it is a private or public one.

I am amazed at how many people do not wash their hands upon leaving a public washroom…

7. Putting your suitcase in the seat next to you at the gate.

“We know putting your bag next to you is an excuse for you to not sit by a stranger or to have more elbow room, but make room for your fellow travelers to wait for their flight, too.”

Actually, I am guilty of putting my bag on the seat next to me; but that is because I prefer to keep it off of the floor whenever possible — and when there is no table available on which to place it. The seat next to me also keeps the bag at a good height where I can reach into it with no problem if I need to retrieve something or put something away.

When the area starts to get crowded, I do proactively remove the bag from the seat so that someone may sit if he or she so chooses.

8. Not using headphones.

I always use headphones or earbuds whenever I listen to music when I travel.

Come to think of it, I cannot remember the last time someone was listening to something so loud — whether or not he or she was using headphones — that it annoyed me.

I do not know why; but I am not fond of hearing someone perpetually whistling…

9. Hogging all outlets.

I never use more than one electrical outlet at a time when I am in a public place; and I cannot recall thinking to myself that someone was hogging the electrical outlets in at airport. According to my observations, most people seem to only use one electrical outlet.

Even more irritating is when electrical outlets are already scarce — only to have many of them inoperable.

I have seen the occasional occurrence where a person is sitting next to a scarce yet open electrical outlet; but he or she is not using it to plug anything into it. That seems to be shocking when you consider how we all seem to currently depend on electricity for our portable electronic devices…

10. Spreading out on the floor.

As much as I do not like placing my bag on the floor, I especially do not like to sit on the floor — let alone spread out all over it…

…and for those people who do spread out all over the floor, it creates a potentially hazardous situation where someone can trip if he or she is not looking out where he or she is going.

Parents should also be more mindful of constantly supervising their children if they are going to allow them to crawl all over the floor or walk or stand where they are in the way of other people.

I rarely “snooze” in public places; but when I do, I usually try to find an isolated corner — usually at a gate which is being unused at the time — to not only be inconspicuous; but also to enjoy some peace and quiet.

11. Blocking the boarding line when you’re in the last boarding group.

A name for a person who blocks the boarding line when his or her boarding group has not yet been called is “affectionately” — yes, that was sarcastic — known amongst frequent fliers as gate lice.


I am certain that not only can you expound upon what is already written in this article; but that you can easily add to the list — and I look forward to reading your comments.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

  1. My rule on my coat is I wait for all bags to be put in bin, then I stuff it in the bin where there is a tiny bit of room.

    1. As my conveyance of preference is a bag which I can carry aboard the aircraft with me, Jacob McCarthy, I typically place it in the overhead storage bin and place my coat — if I am carrying one — on top of my bag.

      Your rule is one which more people should follow, in my opinion…

  2. I can never understand why people write checks at the grocery stores check out counter. Are they somehow saving money or it is just a habit which is hard to break.

    1. I do not know the answer to that question, caveman.

      Perhaps they are not disciplined enough to use a credit card or debit card responsibly but do not want to carry around cash?!?

  3. I’m a little bit germaphobe, but if I’m transiting in an airport I will always brush my teeth, no matter the circumstances. And I always do it in a way that I don’t keep in touch with the basin and surroundings. And I also floss. 🙂

    Do you think that airport bathroom are better or worse than airplane ones? For once I keep reading that the water in the airplane is simply vile.

    Anyway, for me brushing my teeth is important. 🙂

    1. I cannot imagine going wrong with proper hygiene, George. Good for you. Keep on brushing!

      I can imagine one of the ways you would keep your items from touching the surfaces of the washroom is to set a base of a few layers of paper towels. Would I be correct?

      My preference would be the washroom of an airport versus the lavatory aboard an airplane — if only because there is more room…

  4. Slightly off topic but I never found a satisfactory answer. One thing that I cannot live without is tea or coffee on 13-16 hours flight. There is a majority consensus that the water used might not be as clean as it should be. How much soda without ice can you take. How can you avoid tea or coffee on such a long flight?

    1. I do not drink coffee or tea; so I have not paid attention to what members of the flight crew do when they prepare coffee or hot water for tea, caveman.

      They can either boil the liquid to the point where it is safe enough to drink, if they have that capability; or they can use the bottled water which they use to serve passengers who want a glass of water, as many airlines use bottled water…

      …but one should never drink the water straight from the water system of the aircraft.

  5. Don’t forget not giving yourself enough time to return the rental car. Similar to #1 of arriving late, but people often think “oh ill just drop off the car in 2 seconds”. Not necessarily. Sometimes there’s a line, the check in device is broken, the rental car company you chose is off airport property, etc.

    My father back in the early 80s flew to ORD weekly on business. Hertz gave him a Ford Fairmont on one of his trips. On the way back to ORD for his flight home, he experienced a complete blowout of one of the tires. Luckily it wasn’t a front tire or it could have really ended badly. In any case, he told me he parked it on the shoulder of the road near I-90, hopped a fence, walked to the Hertz desk and gave them the keys. He told the agent they can spend their time getting the car back as they rented him one that clearly wasn’t up to snuff.

    1. Thank you for the excellent advice, Captain Kirk — and to add to that, I have known people who have actually lost their way to the airport and arrived too late to catch their flights…

      …and that was a good story pertaining to the experience of your father. May I say that a Ford Fairmont was never known to be an excellent vehicle…?

  6. The blocking of spaces has always confounded me, too. Especially the people who get to the top of an escalator and come to dead stop to look around. Umm, there’s nowhere I can go except right into you… And I probably won’t be very nice about it.

    Also the boarding process as cattle call.

    Great list, many hit close to home lol 🙂

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