10 Annoying Passengers On Your Flight, & How To Deal

We've all been there. You sit down, fasten your seatbelt, attempt to get comfortable, and pray that the seat next to you remains empty. Your pulse quickens with every passenger that walks past without sitting down. Soon, the throngs of travelers shuffling past start to thin out. The overhead announcements begin, and the fasten-your-seatbelt sign illuminates. Could this be it? Surely, they are about to say that the cabin doors are now closed! You can hardly contain your excitement as you hesitantly spread out and claim some coveted extra space. 

And, then it happens. Lumbering on board, armed to the gills with fast food and pillows, comes the one, lone passenger who is incapable of understanding the boarding process. And, he or she is making a beeline for your row. There goes your precious extra seat. Just like that, it's all over. Your dreams of having a comfortable flight are shattered.  

Ahead, we identify the top 10 most frustrating flying partners, and how to deal with them. Consider this guide your very own Public Service Announcement. Here's hoping the right people see it.      

Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Oversharer
Yes, I live in New York. But, no, I do not know your second cousin's first wife, the one with the golden retriever. I'm also not particularly interested in why you insist on pre-ordering a vegetarian meal when you fly (even though in real life you eat meat), or your thoughts on this month's in-flight viewing options. So, if you don't mind, I'm going to pop in my earplugs and get back to my Sudoku. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Permanent Recliner
We all like to recline. And, unless you're lucky enough to be sitting up front, you'll take what few comforts you can get. But, honestly, who needs to be fully reclined on a plane, even while eating? Aren't you spilling food all over yourself? Surely you know it's bad for digestion? This may be one of the few times when a simple request to return the seat to its upright position while you try and make the most of the unidentifiable gruel sitting in front of you might actually work.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Boozer
We're the first to recommend kicking off a holiday with a few glasses of bubbly. And, obviously, if a drink or two helps you sleep through the next eight hours, then go for it. But, if one drink turns into 10, transforming you into a loud, angry, annoying flyer, then you need to stop. You're not watching your team win the Super Bowl, nor gearing up for a big night out. You have absolutely nowhere to go until this plane is back on the ground. So, why get that sloshed? As the sober and sane passenger, you really only have two options, because trying to reason with a drunk is futile. One: You ask to change seats. Two: You have a private word with the steward and suggest that perhaps your seatmate should be cut off from the bar cart.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Leaner
FYI, my body is not, nor has it ever been, a human headrest. Unless you are cute, fluffy, and eat out of a bowl on the floor, you have no business taking up residence on someone else's lap or shoulder. But, since your seatmate did not get the memo, you may just have to resort to the old push-back. If you're more of a pacifist, avoid confrontation by offering your neighbor a neck pillow (you're going to be buying the digital version as soon as it comes out anyway, so you can part with this one). If all else fails, you can always rock some overly aggressive '80s shoulder pads or douse yourself in perfume — although, we do admit that the latter might make you an even worse offender than the guy who's currently treating you as a human pillow.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Snorer
Honestly, the chances of being completely oblivious to one's own snoring are slim to none. Surely someone has pointed it out to you before, and you wouldn't just ignore it; there must be something you are doing to keep it under control. No? Fantastic. Alas, there isn't really much you can say to a fellow passenger who is snoring, however loudly, in your periphery. Try some noise canceling headphones and an iPod. Listening to soothing music while you try to sleep is better than enduring the racket going on next to you. We'd even take some Norwegian death metal over that.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Seat Kicker
It's like rubbing salt in the wound. We're all crammed into this tin box like a bunch of sardines, and yet some people feel it's appropriate to swing their lower limbs about wildly while sitting right behind you. Granted, the transgressor is generally that of the "too young to fly alone" variety, so you won't get very far by politely asking them to sit still. It's best you go straight to the parents and appeal to their understanding. Be sweet and courteous, and ask if they wouldn't mind having a word with their little one, as your back is not actually a punching bag. And, if that doesn't work, casually mentioning that you're not sure if Santa Claus exists should put the culprit in a stupefied state for the rest of the flight. Or, you could just go ahead and bribe them with some candy.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Armrest Hogger
Some travelers insist that the person in the middle seat is entitled to both armrests, since the aisle seat gets more legroom and the window seat gets, well, the window. Unfortunately, disputes may still ensue. So, until the Paperclip Armrest becomes the norm, we suggest getting in quick and claiming your ground, while leaving enough space for your neighbor. After all, sharing is caring. If, however, they are not quite as polite as you, perhaps you should casually ask them if they've heard of the Soarigami.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Excess Carry-On Offender
Could someone please explain how this person made it through ALL the airport checkpoints without ANYONE telling them to check those bags in? Ridiculous. And, now it's your problem, because your appropriately sized, single carry-on bag won't fit in the overhead bin. Time to turn on the passive aggressive attitude. Perhaps you should not so subtly struggle to fit your bag in, laws of physics be damned. Maybe add in a little, 'Oh, I hope there's nothing fragile in here!' comment as you force your bag in, violently trying to slam the compartment shut. It won't take long for a flight attendant to come to your aid — making it someone else's problem.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Night-Light Reader
Is it just us, or are those overhead spotlights unbelievably bright? Someone three rows back turns one on, and it's like a UFO hovering above. By all means, go ahead and finish that chapter, but then maybe it's time to sleep like the rest of us? Though, it's hard to argue with someone else's right to read on a plane; this one might be best taken up directly with the airline. Something along the lines of a Petition For Lower Wattage? Until then, make sure you have a seriously good eye mask handy.
Illustrated by Blake Wright.
The Ansel Adams
We can understand and appreciate a keen Instagrammer. But, if documenting every moment of your trip is a priority for you, then maybe you should have booked a window seat. You didn't, which means you need to retract those Go-Go-Gadget arms and find a way to take your obligatory plane wing snapshot from your own seat. I'm happy to cut you some slack and allow the occasional photo — as long as you ask politely before shoving your phone in my personal space. Otherwise, I'm going to lean up against the window pretending to sleep, or gaze constantly out into the abyss so intently and with such purpose that you wouldn't dare bother me.