How to Avoid the Flight From Hell

We’ve all been there on a long-haul flight. Your legs are aching, head desperately seeking out a more comfortable position, your eyes feel drier than the Sahara… and, to make matters even worse, there’s that one passenger who just seems to annoy the hell out of you.

It turns out that very scenario – annoying passengers – is one of the top fears of Australian travellers, beating out flight cancellations and the dreaded travel sickness. At least, that is according to research from – a site that compares virtually everything.

The survey, which delved into the in-flight fears of Aussie travellers, revealed that 33 per cent of us fear sitting next to the seatmate from hell, with 19 per cent citing disorderly travellers as another fear. Interestingly, just 10 per cent mentioned claustrophobia.

“It’s interesting that annoying passengers are a top concern for one third of international travellers,” commented Bessie Hassan, insurance expert at “Australians are more concerned about their fellow passengers bothering them than they are about more likely or common issues such as turbulence, flight cancellation or even illness.”

Inspired by the results, we’ve put together a few handy tips on how to keep entertained, ignore any annoying passengers, and hopefully avoid feelings of rage at 32,000 feet.

1. Drink more red wine Pack some distractions

Keeping yourself entertained is one of best ways to stay calm and avoid being distracted by annoying passengers, and the secret is in diversity. Rather than just loading up your tablet with movies or reading a book, try packing a mix of light-weight options such as an adult colouring book, a blank journal and pen to jot down musings about your in-flight insomnia at 3am (and therefore provide yourself with some amusing reading when you land), or maybe download some inspiring podcasts or relaxation exercises to help occupy your mind.

2. Sit at the back of the plane

Sure, the back of the plane may not be the most convenient place to sit once you’ve landed and want to escape the confines of your metal prison, but for the flight itself can actually be a much better option. The rear of the plane is usually less crowded, meaning there could be a spare seat or two nearby to stretch out on, or, if there’s an annoying passenger beginning to grind your gears, give you somewhere to seek refuge and enjoy new surroundings.

3. Remember to pack a sense of humour

It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine. When life in the fast plane gets you down, it helps if you can take a step back mentally and see the humour in the situation. Though it feels like you’re living in a special part of hell, it’s only temporary. You’re also going to have an amusing story you can tell people when you arrive. Take the high road and just laugh it off.

Do you have any other tips for staying sane in the sky?

Written by
Chris Ashton

We're Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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  • Sorry, but the back of the plane is terrible. People constantly going in and out of the bathroom, usually to the tune of a slamming door, is almost as bad as a baby crying for most of the flight. Trust me, it’s happened to me.

    • We generally use the SeatGuru app before booking a flight to see which seats are the best, which to avoid etc. It’s not an exact science, but usually steers us in the right direction. I agree a seat next to the toilet is never going to be a good experience though.

Written by Chris Ashton