The next time you’re in an airport, take a quick look at the people around you. We’re willing to bet that you can tell which people are frequent fliers (and which people are complete flying newbies) just by looking at them. It’s easy to see frequent travelers embodying a completely chill attitude when it comes to flying, but even the most experienced ones can develop some pretty strange habits.
A survey commissioned by the booking website Sunshine.co.uk dug deep into the strange travel habit phenomenon, asking 1,894 regular fliers a series of questions about how they approach the flying process. Their answers revealed that most frequent fliers have certain things they do regularly before getting onto a plane.
"We all have our own habits and quirks that we carry out in all areas of life, but flying is something that seems to bring this out of us more than ever,” explained Chris Clarkson, managing director of Sunshine. He said that people seemed to develop these habits as a way to cope with the stress that they may feel when they fly.
It’s not just survey respondents that have revealed their flying quirks to the world. Celebrities, travel bloggers and everyday people might surprise you with the kinds of routines and customs they swear by when they fly.
Which Game of Thrones hero refuses to fly without his good luck charm? Read on to find out, and to discover all the strangest habits that frequent fliers will always (or never) do.
25 25. Stepping Onboard Right Foot First (Will)
Every single time celebrity and Emirates spokesperson Jennifer Aniston walks onto a plane, she has to do it with her right foot first.
“I always have to go on with my right foot first and tap the outside of the plane. I have always done it for luck,” she explains to the Los Angeles Times. “Someone told me to do it, and I don’t remember when that was. But it’s always stuck.”
We’ve heard of tapping the outside of the plane before, but stepping onto it with a particular foot is a new one. Seems like a unique and harmless way to boost your confidence about how the trip will be! Let us know if it helps you feel lucky.
24 24. Choosing a Flight with a Certain Number (Will)
The habit of choosing a flight based on its number is so common that airlines have had to consider it when numbering flights. According to The Wall Street Journal, depending on the airline, numbers like 666 and 911 aren't used anymore because of the bad juju associated with them. They report that American Airlines and Delta have even banned flight number 191 because of numerous accidents involving carriers with that number.
On the other hand, some flights get chosen by savvy travelers because of the good vibes they get from their flight numbers. For example, an Alaskan airline that carries a lot of Canadian passengers named one of its flights after a popular Canadian lottery number (649!).
23 23. Needing a Specific Inflight Drink (Will)
5 percent of people who responded to the Sunshine report said they ‘stick to a routine’ of ‘buying the same drink’ when they fly. If you fly a lot, there’s a chance that you’ve become accustomed to enjoying a particular beverage every time you’re in the air.
“The only time I ever order a Bloody Mary mix or a tomato juice is when my butt is planted on a plane seat,” writes blogger M. Martinez.
Having a go-to plane drink routine might help to calm frequent fliers who still feel nervous sometimes. If nothing special happened when you drank that iced tea the last four times you flew, maybe drinking it again means nothing special will happen this time, too.
22 22. Playing a Favorite Album on Repeat (Will)
According to the Wall Street Journal, if you see someone dancing when they enter a plane, it's not because they’re super excited about flying. Lots of people have favorite albums that they keep playing on repeat while they fly, just like they may have routines about what they like to eat or drink. The music habit is just as useful, and might be a bit more fun.
Megan Fox says her frequent flier habit involves Britney Spears. “I know for a fact it’s not in my destiny to die listening to a Britney Spears album, so I have it on in my headphones when I’m flying cause I know it won’t crash if I’ve got Britney on.”
21 21. Using Calming Scents (Will)
Some expert fliers use scents to their advantage. If you know you could use some help relaxing while you’re in the air, consider using naturally calming scents like lavender (in easy-to-pack oil form). That’s what neuroscientist and vegan actress Mayim Bialik chooses to do every time she flies.
“I use lavender essential oil to calm down when I get scared about being in an airplane,” she admits to JaeHakim.com.
Just remember not to make the rookie mistake of packing an essential oil without using airline-approved packaging. Check how many ounces your bottle is, and be sure to seal it in a plastic bag in your carry-on.
20 20. Packing Their Own Food (Will)
Frequent fliers know what to expect from airplane meals (not much). Smart travelers know to pack their own favorite snacks for guaranteed good food. Food Network host Alton Brown takes this habit to the next level. Check out his comments to Conde Nast Traveler:
“I travel with an espresso maker. And typically, a tin can or sardines. I have a little portable electric kettle by Krups for boiling water, and I have this funky little blender called a Ninja because I eat a lot of smoothies and I never want to be a victim of bad food. So I have this little bag that carries these three things with me almost everywhere I go.”
You do you, Alton!
19 19. Knitting While Flying (Will)
When you fly frequently, time spent on planes adds up! You might not want to spend hours of your life just sitting and doing nothing. Lifestyle influencer and The Hills alumnus Lauren Conrad has a unique way of staying productive while up in the air: She never flies without knitting.
“I travel with yarn and knitting needles,” she shares on LaurenConrad.com. “I like to have something to do while I am on the plane, and by the end of the flight I usually end up with a new accessory to gift or wear.”
Demi Lovato has also been photographed knitting on a flight. Who knew knitting was so popular among jet-setting multitaskers?
18 18. Taking the Stairs (Will)
Experienced adventurers like travel blogger Wandering Earl often choose to take stairs at every opportunity throughout their airport navigation process. They know that air travel means a lot of time stuck sitting down, so any chance to stretch and use their legs is a good idea.
“As I head through the airport, I always avoid using the people movers or escalators,” he writes. “I just walk and use the stairs.”
For someone who travels so much, this little habit can add up to a lot of exercise over time. Taking a shortcut might be tempting when you're trekking through the airport with loads of luggage, but think of the workout potential!
17 17. Putting Antibacterial Spray on the Seat (Will)
This is one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s many, many weird habits, but to be fair: spraying something antibacterial solution on your seat isn’t all that uncommon among frequent fliers. In Gwyneth’s case, she uses a concoction of her creation.
“I’ll also spritz colloidal silver all over the seat, because it’s a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral,” she tells InStyle Magazine. “And I have this magnesium and calcium packet that I put in my water as magnesium is really calming on your nervous system.”
If you don’t have essence of magnesium or colloidal silver at your disposal, a little hand sanitizing spray will do the job, too.
16 16. Arriving Early to Meditate (Will)
You might think that frequent travelers would choose to arrive at airports later than rookie travelers do, but that’s not usually the case. Frequent fliers know that showing up with plenty of time to spare is the best way to guarantee a smooth check-in and boarding process.
Expert travelers take it one step further by using their waiting time to benefit their mental health. Travel can be taxing! For example, Wandering Earl chooses to always find a chair near a window and let his mind unwind:
“That’s where I spend about 20 minutes just staring off into space, watching planes take off, and letting thoughts flow,” he shares. “Thoughts about just anything that pops into my head.”
15 15. Hiring Airport Escorts/Greeters (Will)
Did you ever think it was possible to walk into an airport and have everything done for you by a friendly and attentive butler-type person? Well it is! People who fly a lot know about services like Solve that take care of everything from arrival to takeoff to landing and beyond.
Solve pairs you with an organized professional who will lead you all the way through the airport, do your talking for you, navigate tricky customs forms, find the shortest security lines, and escort you right to your gate. You can feel like a full airport VIP – or just take a moment to turn off your brain and enjoy floating through the air travel process responsibility-free.
14 14. Watching Comedies Instead of Dramas (Will)
If you’re a frequent flier, you’ll know that emotions can sometimes hit harder in the air than anywhere else in the world. Your body is already a bit nervous and unsettled. Why tempt your tears by watching a serious, deep, and meaningful movie when you could just watch a light comedy like the pros do?
Expert fliers like Wandering Will never choose options from the dramatic section of the in-flight entertainment pages. “I have trouble watching any other kind of movie while I’m on a flight. I’d watch Paul Plart: Mall Cop 2 over The Shawshank Redemption any day,” he explains.
13 13. Carrying a Good Luck Charm (Will)
Some frequent fliers refuse to travel without a particular special possession in their pocket. Even Game of Thrones’ own Jon Snow won’t fly without one, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
“Each time I fly it feels unnatural. I get jittery,” actor Kit Harrington explains. The antidote to his nerves is a simple good luck charm. “I have a few kind of lucky mascots. I’ve got a lucky pen – it’s one I’ve had since I was a kid, and I carry it everywhere.”
He’s not alone in carrying a good luck charm. 43% of Sunshine survey respondents said they always travel with a 'soft toy' of some kind, and 27% said it was a 'piece of jewellery such as a necklace.”
12 12. Falling Asleep with the Overhead Light On (Won’t)
Now we’re on to the never-dos! On long-haul or red eye flights, keeping your overhead light on the entire time is inconsiderate and unnecessary – especially if you’re not even conscious. Frequent travelers who know it’s time to catch some shut-eye will usually make sure their overhead lights are switched off for the benefit of the rest of the cabin.
If you’ve ever tried to sleep on a plane while your seatmate’s light is on, you’ll know what we mean. The entire plane’s worth of passengers could be bothered by it, and for what reason? Catch some z’s or read by the light of your phone if you really can’t sleep like everyone else.
11 11. Talking Loudly on Phones (Won’t)
There’s something about the way a plane’s cabin curves that seems to bounce the sound of someone talking on their phone right into the ears of most other passengers. Don’t you think? When you’re in Coach and someone else there is on the phone trying to speak above the sounds of the plane, you’re likely to hear every word of their conversation. Same goes for loud phone talkers in First Class.
More seasoned fliers have experienced hearing this enough (or experienced being told-off for it if they’ve done it themselves) that they know it’s a pet peeve of many passengers. If you want to seem like a laid-back, high-flying frequent traveler, pop on those headphones and keep your voice down.
10 10. Ignoring Flight Attendant Instructions (Won't)
Frequent travelers know that flight attendants are serious professionals with crucial jobs to do on and off the plane. When a flight attendant is speaking, it’s not just for his or her own entertainment. They have important things to say!
For example, when flight attendants make announcements about staying seated and fastening seat belts, frequent fliers know that it's easier to just follow the instructions than to assume that they don’t matter to you anyway. That kind of thinking is a quick way to get either told off or get tossed by turbulence and injured. Listen up and buckle up.
9 9. Grabbing Luggage by the Wheels (Won’t)
This might sound strange, but think about it: you’re trying to get your luggage into the overhead compartment and you load it in by its top half first. Then you need to maneuver it a bit to get it in just the right position, so you use what’s still within reach (the bottom of your case/wheels) to push the luggage all the way in.
The bottoms of suitcases, especially the wheels, have rolled through who-knows-what on their travels around the world. They likely got dragged over the dirty ground on their way to the airport alone. Touching them with bare hands and then touching other common surfaces on the plane is a bad idea that frequent fliers avoid.
8 8. Pulling Up/Down Someone Else’s Window Shade (Won’t)
If you bought a window seat, you bought the right to look out the window (or not) at your own discretion. It’s incredibly rude and amateurish to reach backwards or sideways over someone’s lap to mess with their window shade for your own comfort.
People who are no strangers to buying plane tickets know the pros and cons of every seat option. They understand that sitting in the aisle seat means they have more opportunities to stretch their legs. They know that sitting in the window seat gives them a view and window ledge all to themselves. The personal space boundaries are pretty clear, so crossing them is a tell-tale sign of airplane etiquette ignorance.
7 7. Reclining Unannounced (Won’t)
When reclining your seat back, it’s common courtesy to give a quick nod to the person behind you to let them know it’s coming. At least take a peek back there to see if they’re doing something precarious like pouring a drink or sleeping with their head on a tray table. People who don’t check before they pop their seat backward have a good chance of really upsetting (or even injuring) the person sitting behind them.
Frequent fliers not only check before reclining, but they also rarely recline at all, according to travel expert Chris McGinnis. “From what I observe, most frequent travelers no longer recline their seats unless they are on an overnight flight.
6 6. Jabbing the Touch Screens (Won’t)
Have you ever sat in front of someone who is struggling with the seatback screen? All you can feel is poke, poke, poke because they think they need to jab it hard to make it work. It’s called a touch screen for a reason – it responds to a light touch.
Frequent fliers can easily navigate their touch screens and don’t need to spend much time poking at them anyway. Their amount of experience using these screens makes it less likely that the person in front of them would be bothered. Experienced travelers know that touch screens are like the legend of the Sword in the Stone – a gentle hand is all you need.