Five things not to do on airplanes

By Brett Snyder, Special to CNNUpdated 24th February 2012
Reclining without regard for fellow passengers creates in-flight tension.
Every time you get on an airplane, it's a crap shoot. No, I'm not talking about safety but rather the person you'll be sitting next to. All walks of life end up flying at one point or another. Maybe you're stuck sitting next to someone who doesn't quite understand that his actions impact others around him. Or maybe YOU are that person.
For that reason, I thought it would be fun to go through the top five things you really shouldn't do on an airplane.
1. No bare feet -- It should go without saying that being cooped up on an airplane with others mere inches from you is painful enough with everyone clothed. Just because it's a long flight does not mean you can get as comfortable as you get at home. Sure, go ahead and kick your shoes off, but you better be wearing socks. And if your feet smell, put those shoes right back on to make sure that you contain the stink. This one applies in all classes. I was in business class on a flight last year where the seats were angled out. Sure enough, a guy across the way put his bare feet right up there for all to see (and smell) as they walked down the aisle. Don't do it.
2. Don't abuse the recline -- Coach passengers have few things that they can control in the flying experience, but one is the angle of their seats. For most, there is a realization that if you recline your seat, it will impact the person behind you. There are those few gems out there, however, who simply don't care and jack that seat back as far as it will go. You have the right to recline, but try to be considerate. Don't be that guy who sees a cart rolling down the aisle with dinner on that long flight and decides to lean back. It's hard enough to eat on an airplane, but it's impossible with the seat bending back into your face. (Note: Some airlines have seats that recline into themselves, so go ahead and recline away in those. You'll only impact your own legroom.)
3. Don't be an overhead hog -- Everyone knows that there is likely going to be more demand for overhead bin space than actual space up there, so why not do your part to help get as much up there as you can? Put your roller bag wheels-in instead of sideways, if it fits. Don't take up a ton of space by placing a coat along the entire bin, as I've seen almost any time the temp dips below 50 degrees. More important, if someone asks if she can move your bag around to try to fit her own, let her. Think of it like a big Tetris puzzle, and you don't want to leave an empty space.
4. No talking loudly to strangers -- There are some people who love to talk to their seatmates on airplanes; there are others who dread the thought. There's nothing wrong with talking to your seatmate if there's a mutual interest, but keep the volume down to avoid bugging those around you who really don't care where you're from and what you do for a living. And just because you're talking to someone doesn't mean that he wants to talk to you. Be very careful to observe the warning signs -- fidgeting, quietness, looking away from you, opening a magazine, etc. Some people aren't rude, but they don't want to talk to you. Take a hint.
5. Don't make dumb jokes -- It's amazing how many people out there still think it's funny to say, "I've got a bomb," or something equally stupid. Oh sure, it's hi-larious to you, but it's only going to get you thrown off the plane and into heavy questioning. You might have no better way to spend your time, but when you delay that flight, you'll have a hundred or more new enemies who wish you'd never boarded.
This list is far from exhaustive. Just let your conscience guide you (if you have one). Be nice to people and respect the rights of others and you'll all be much happier when you get where you're going.
What are your top in-flight no-nos? What kind of behavior makes you want to clobber a fellow flier? (Don't do it; that will delay the flight.) Share your comments below.