Skipping these common habits can make you a better passenger on your next trip.

I have been traveling a lot lately, from seeing family over the holidays to vacation to business travel. And over the last few months, there are several things I've noticed while flying … for better or for worse. Whether you're headed to a tropical getaway or a professional conference, air travel might feel like a stressor—especially these days. While everyone has their own preferred travel routine, there are a few habits that you might not realize could be pretty inconsiderate to your fellow passengers or flight crew. To help prevent being unintentionally rude, here are five common habits to avoid when eating a snack or meal on a flight. 

1. You bring a high-odor food on board 

No one is saying you can't enjoy a tuna sandwich or a hard-boiled egg … but it's best to eat at the gate or in the terminal. Consider the other passengers when you bring something on board that's, let's say, fragrant. Especially on long flights (but even on short ones), the people around you may not appreciate it. No matter how high-tech the air filtration systems have gotten, they likely won't get rid of the lingering smell. If you really can't go without your favorite smelly snack on a travel day, do your best to plan ahead and eat it before boarding. 

2. You bring something messy 

Regardless of if it has an odor or not, the people around you probably don't want parts of your snack on their sweater or seat. Things that are more messy, like a hot soup, crumbly granola, overflowing salad or tacos probably aren't the best move when you're in the air. Why? One word: turbulence. Need I say more? Not to mention, it's a pretty cramped seating arrangement as-is, so you probably won't be comfortable eating something that requires extra elbow room. And if you get a hot beverage during the in-flight service, just be mindful and hold onto it if you can (speaking from a recent unfortunate experience involving the coffee of the person sitting next to me). 

3. You don't consider others' allergies 

Some airlines actually forbid passengers from bringing on a food allergen if a passenger reports their allergy in advance, and several have policies against serving common allergens like peanuts during their in-flight food service. Even if someone with an allergy doesn't consume the allergen, being near or making contact with their allergen could elicit a response. The top 9 major food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soybeans and sesame, so maybe just skip bringing any of these on to a metal tube in the sky with hundreds of strangers. 

an illustration of a plane with a fork and spoon behind it
Credit: Getty Images

4. You have too much to drink 

There, I said it. I know you might be about to head to the most fun vacation ever and you're excited (or you've been delayed in the airport for too long and it's getting to you), but don't overimbibe at the airport. And definitely don't try to "get the party started" on the plane. Not only can alcohol make you especially dehydrated from travel, but also it's not considerate to other passengers or families who are traveling near you. I'm not saying I'm above having one or two drinks during a long layover, I'm just saying keep it respectful and alternate with plenty of water. 

5. You're impolite to the flight attendants

Under no circumstances is it appropriate to be rude or aggressive to any service workers, especially flight attendants. Not to mention, disobeying orders from a flight crew member is actually against the law and can result in federal charges. So they might be out of your favorite snack or don't have (or can't serve) your go-to travel beverage, but no matter what it is, it is not a reason to lash out. If there's a mistake or you need some additional help, be patient and understand that crew members' primary job is keeping everyone safe, not catering to your food preferences. 

The Bottom Line 

Flying can be fun, and at the very least it's something special that you don't get to do every day. Everyone has their own travel rituals, and you don't need to drastically alter your routine from what makes you feel comfortable. That said, a few extra considerations can make you a better traveler to your fellow passengers and flight crew. On your next trip, skip the smelly or messy foods, excess drinks and attitude, and consider eating ahead of time in the terminal instead if your flight isn't too long.