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Many of us have made a friend while flying, however many of us have also experienced the exact opposite…the worst passenger ever. And as luck sometimes has it, they are seated right next to you. We asked some of our favorite frequent fliers to spill their worst seatmate stories, from drunk passengers to unruly canines in tow. RELATED: Drunk Passenger on American Airlines Throws Up on Seatmates in First Class

Surprise feet
Chris McGinnis, former travel editor and correspondent for SFGATE, CNN and BBC spills about his biggest seatmate issue: FEET. “I’ve had several seatmates who have no feet etiquette at all. My rule is that feet should always be covered with shoes and/or socks on a plane. No bare feet. It’s gross and dirty. I’ve had seatmates who pick at their feet, then touch the controls to the light or air vent. Yuck! I’ve seen feet on seatbacks, propped against windows, hanging from business class tray tables, curled around video screens, and creeping through the space between my seat from behind and tickling my elbows with their toes. Romantic partners massaging each other’s feet, too! Enough already! Keep feet covered, and keep them on the floor!”

Too many screwdrivers
Tiffany Dowd of Luxe Tiffany/Luxe Social Media, says, “One of my worst seatmate experiences was on a five-hour flight from New York to Barbados when my seatmate proceeded to get drunk at 8am after drinking several screwdrivers. On his third screwdriver, he spilled his entire drink on me, and I was sticky with orange juice and smelled like vodka the rest of the flight. Then he wanted to keep chatting about where I was from and where I was staying. I didn’t engage and pretended to sleep and listen to my music the rest of the way.”

Furry friend
Johnny Jet’s Ask A Pilot columnist Spencer Marker says, “I was riding in uniform as a passenger in the bulkhead row, seated next to a guy with a yellow labrador service animal. The dog must have weighed over 100 pounds. The dog was sweet and almost as soon as I sat down, he laid his head on my leg. I asked the owner if I could pet him and he agreed. After vigorous head scratches, I stopped and settled in for the flight. Apparently, the dog took this as “I guess we are best friends now!” and proceeded to lay his head on my leg for the entire three-hour journey. When I stood up to retrieve my bags after our arrival, my black uniform pants were covered with yellow fur and dog drool! I had a good laugh but it took extensive use of a lint roller and paper towels to make me presentable again!”

Risqué photos
Matt Guidice of Matt’s Flights says, “I was on a flight from Austin to Ft. Lauderdale. It was a Southwest flight so you aren’t assigned a seatmate. While in the boarding area, a nice middle-aged woman started a conversation with me about travel. Once I boarded I saw her waving her hands to come sit next to her. I didn’t want to be rude and she seemed nice so I stuffed my backpack in the overhead and sat down in the middle seat. Three hours later, I had seen a handful of risqué pictures on her phone, was told numerous stories about inappropriate encounters and was even invited over for a massage.”

Cat lover
Elaine Thompson at Amigo Energy says, “We were on our way to Hawaii and I was seated next to a very friendly man with a very grumpy cat. This man explained to me (in detail, with lots of backstory) that he was moving to Hawaii and was bringing along all of his animals — two cats and three dogs, all in carriers under various seats on the plane. His cat was NOT happy about being stuck on an airplane in a carrier under a seat and made it very well known to me. The entire 8-hour flight was spent trying to ignore his yowls and trying to remain polite to the cat-owner who wished to share all of his knowledge on cats, Hawaii, and cats in Hawaii.”

Wrong time to open the door
Travel expert and writer Lee Abbamonte has encountered one too many drunken passengers. But this particular time, it got a bit out of hand. “I once sat next to a guy on a flight from LA to Tokyo with a continuation to Singapore,” he says. “He got really drunk the entire way to Tokyo and didn’t say too much. I saw him on our stopover go to the bar at the Tokyo airport and then he continued drinking hard on the flight to Singapore. About halfway through the flight he starts yelling at everyone and then proceeds to jump up and tries to open the door to the outside. A few people had to detain him for the remainder of the flight.”

Surprise pickings
Mia Herman of Travel with Mia recalls, “I was on a flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo. The man next to me kept picking his nose and then he used the same finger to change the channel on his seatback monitor. YUCK! When I noticed it, I took out some antibacterial wipes and wiped down MY screen, armrests, and air vent. To my horror, this went on for the entire 4.5-hour flight.”

The cuddly dog
Jordan Brannon of Coalition Tech says, “It quickly became apparent that the man I was seated next to had an issue with the young woman across the aisle … or the young woman’s small (toy-sized) dog to be exact. He was photographing and filming the woman and her dog, tweeting the United customer service account, and filming the flight attendants as they did pre-flight procedures. When his demands for the dog to be stowed in a carrier were refused, he began to fake sneeze, and claimed an allergy. Unfortunately for him, the dog breed was hypo-allergenic and his acting was derided by people in nearby rows. When the plane finally made it off the tarmac, a drunk passenger in the rear of the plane began to harass him. This drunk would meander down the aisle, stop to loudly proclaim how beautiful and cuddly the dog was, occasionally overreact to a small noise the dog would make, or sneeze in a very dainty manner [to make fun of this man]. By the time we landed, 5-6 city police officers were on hand to interview both the drunk and the dog allergic, overly sensitive, bully of a seatmate.”

Worst seatmate you’ve ever had? Share your story in the comments section below!


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11 Comments On "Worst Seatmate Ever: Frequent Flyers Reveal Their Worst Experiences"
  1. Barry Reil|

    My worst experience flying was on a flight from Austin Texas to Boston, MA. I was in a window seat near the back of the plane. All of the other seats were filled. A VERY large woman, and a slim man walked down the aisle. The woman slid into the center seat. I dropped the arm rest before she settled into her seat.
    Sometime later I felt a pressure against my thigh. It pressed me closer and closer to the window.
    I became aware that the pressure was caused by her OOZING under the armrest! (have you seen slime ooze?) By the end of the flight, my legs were asleep and I couldn’t stand up.
    I guess that I should have asked her to take an aisle seat, but I didn’t want to upset her because she was overweight.

  2. Anonymous|

    Next time take a cookie sheet or a piece of plywood and insert it right next to the arm rest. That way you will have stopped any oozing. Please flyers if you think that you may be too big for the seat purchase two.

  3. Anonymous|

    I had a similar experience on a flight from LA to Australia on Air NZ. I had a window seat. The other two seats were occupied by a very nice but enormous couple. They could have easily filled the whole row. I had literally half a seat as the woman next to me oozed over & under the arm rest into my seat. I was so tired as I’d already come from Florida with lengthy waits at both airports. It was impossible to sleep & to extricate myself I had to climb on the armrests to get out as they were both sound asleep. I actually ended up in the crew rest space above the back of the plane but I was too paranoid to sleep, not wanting to get busted & arrested on departure! I don’t know why I didn’t ask the crew for help as there was likely at least one other empty seat on board. I think I was just too exhausted to think straight.

  4. Henrik|

    How on earth does one “end up” in the crew rest space above the back of the plane without the help of the crew?

  5. Juliette Muscat|

    On a long flight from Buenos Aires to Dallas my seatmate was a 350-lb man who promptly fell
    asleep leaning on top of me. He apologized when he woke, then did it again.
    On a flight from LA to Sydney three Aussies behind me were roaring drunk until the chief flight attendant threatened them with the police and moved me many aisles in front of them.
    On a flight from New Zealand to LA a teenage seatmate told the flight attendant I was in the wrong seat ( I wasn’t); she wanted my seat for her friend. She then threw her shoes on top of my feet. I said something icy, then we never said a word for the entire 12-hour flight.

  6. Lady Anne|

    Back in the 80s, my husband and I flew to the UK from NYC. We departed NYC at 11 PM, and planned on sleeping on the flight over, but for reasons unknown to me, Hubby booked seats in the back of the plane, which had a movie screen. The seats behind us were occupied by two teenaged girls, who kept pulling on the top of our seat backs, and/or pushing their feet against the bottom, so they could hoist themselves up to see the movie. Neither of us got a wink of sleep.

  7. Lou Anne|

    Years ago I was traveling for work. I got on a flight and I was assigned a middle seat. It’s OK. I just need to get there. Here came my travel companions. A man and woman and their baby that looked about 18 months old. The woman sat on the window, the man sat on the aisle, and they began passing things back and forth across the front of me, to each other. Diapers, bottles, toys, drool towels. I said “Wouldn’t you be happier beside each other? I’d be happy to change seats with one of you”. Oh no…. they liked being a little bit apart. The baby is pulling on me and carrying on. The plane was completely packed so no where to move to. At one point the man turned to me and said “Do you think anyone would mind if I just put the baby down on the floor in the middle of the aisle to change their diaper”? Uh… I think in a plane completely packed, that you might start a RIOT if you changed a stinky diaper in the middle of the plane. He got the hint and went back to the back. It was NUTS!

  8. Billy B|

    The worst experience I’ve ever had, actually wasn’t flying, but riding Amtrak. While heading to my departure gate at Newark NJ, there were men urinating in 2 different corners. What a “TOILET” I’ll never depart out of Newark!

  9. James|

    My wife had to endure sitting in the aisle where a woman had a dog sitting out of the dog carrier, my wife is terrified of dogs and the dog wasn’t even a service dog. No respect for your fellow passengers

  10. S Kathleen Boland|

    My worst was on the last leg of a l-o-n-g flight from Europe to San Diego,CA. We left Denver and immediately hit turbulent weather over the Rockies…the young man sitting in the window seat became more and more terrified with each bump. I guess I became a Grandma figure for him so on the last bit into SD as we encountered lightning strikes to the wing on our side of the plane, he all but crawled into my lap!!!

  11. Anonymous|

    I am a 40+ red headed male. I was on a full flight from NYC to San Diego and seated next to a 10 yr. old holy terror who had red hair. The kid kept jumping up and down and generally being a total nuisance on the flight. Everyone was giving me the evil eye. Finally, a cabin attendant grabbed the little monster, told him to behave or she would tell his father who was waiting for him at the gate in San Diego just how bad he had behaved. At least some of the people around me had the decency to look a little sheepish and one even apologized. However, the kid still acted like a holy terror the rest of the flight. I just hope the kid’s father did something.

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