TRAVEL ETIQUETTE 101: No Ugly Crying At Strangers On Planes

My job involves some travel to facilitate the leadership development series we’re creating. I’m hardly a road warrior at this point in my career, but traveling for work has meant I’ve seen some questionable behavior on planes and in airports.  I’m not talking about your baby crying. I’m talking about the kinds of things where you instinctively think “didn’t your mama teach you not to < insert apparently inappropriate behavior>?!”

This one happened to me a few months ago and it’s just too strange to keep to myself. Picture it:

It’s the last flight of the night out to your destination city. You’ve got an isle seat (FTW) and you’re minding your own business. There’s a gentleman, probably mid-thirties, in the window seat next to you watching a movie on his laptop.You have no idea what movie he’s watching, but notice some intense violence each time the screen grabs your attention. 

You’re running through your slide deck for the umpteenth time and you’ve got headphones in (no doubt listening to latest styling of Mr. Jay-Z). Suddenly you get that feeling that someone is looking at you.

You turn and the man sitting next to you is sobbing and staring directly at you. That’s right, kids. I’m talking the full Monty, the “lips-quivering-shaking-shoulders-ugly-cry” sobbing. Points at his screen and keeps sobbing, but is staring straight at you while he’s sobbing!


This happened 3 more times during the flight. After the “Are you okay?” what the heck do you say to that? What do you do other than offer a tissue?

Talk about weird. With that in mind, here’s the Travel Etiquette 101 Tip I Never Thought I’d Give:

If your in-flight entertainment of choice is that upsetting, please for the love of God, chose something else. If you’re flying Delta, the latest SkyMall magazine has been provided.

If you insist on your emotionally stirring selection, please don’t stare directly at me and sob 6 inches from my face, stranger! Why didn’t someone tell you NEVER EVER to do that?!

Enough about my cringe-worthy experience, let’s talk about you: What’s the weirdest, strangest, most cringe-worthy experience you’ve had on the road?  Leave it in the comments!



  1. broc

    Lots of awkward moments, of course, but the most nervous I’ve been around another passenger was this short, skinny guy sitting across the aisle from me. At 5’4″ and *maybe* 135 pounds, he should have been the least threatening person on the plane, but was one of the most frightening people I’ve encountered. His hands were in constant motion and he spent the *entire* flight cursing the world under his breath. It was non-stop. When any part of the world intruded on him (passenger passing by, flight attendant offering a drink, etc.) he would interact like a kind of normal person and as soon as they passed he seemed to take it as a direct insult and the cursing and threatening muttering would intensify. We’ve all encountered belligerent, bullying jackasses and generally know how to deal with them, but the tiny, wiry guy who thought the world was against him and was stretched waaaaaaaaay past his snapping point? Sitting next to me? I was very happy when the plane landed.

    1. Author
      Chelsea Rowe

      Yikes!That’s the kind of situation that’ll get you sizing up the rest of the passengers attempting to figure out who the US Air Marshall is, just in case…

Leave a Comment