The most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen on board a plane


It takes a lot to truly shock me with behavior on a plane these days. I’ve seen plenty of questionable behavior, from changing a baby’s diaper on the tray table to bare feet on bulkheads and plenty of other icky in between. But it was not until today that I was truly disgusted by what I saw.

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I was the second passenger to board the ERJ-145 leaving Newark and had settled in to 18D, a window seat with plenty of legroom. And, as is generally my habit, I began to watch the other passengers as they came on board. Not for any particular reason other than general curiosity, but I tend to enjoy the people-watching. A few minutes in to the process the guy who would eventually settle in to 20A briefly paused around row 9, made a spitting sort of motion into his hand and then motioned into the overhead bin.

Not believing that such could have actually happened I got out of my seat and worked up the aisle, against the flow of travelers. I made it to the bin just in time as another passenger was about to put a bag in that same bin. And there I spotted what I hoped I would not see: discarded chewing gum at the bottom of the bin. I stopped the other guy from putting his bag on the gum and managed to collect it in an air sickness bag before another passenger was able to stow their bag on the detritus.

But, yeah, a guy spit out his gum into an overhead bin. I’m almost starting to understand why Singapore has those laws.

Seen anything you think is worse than that?? I’d love to hear your tales.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

16 Comments

  1. Ah, gross. Some people are so gross, as if they couldn’t just spit it out into a piece of tissue or something. Total lack of “basic” manners.

  2. I am so grossed out.

    I once saw something similar in the IAH E Presidents Club. A woman pulled gum out of her mouth and stuck it to the top of the armrest on one of the leather chairs to drink her wine. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she didn’t leave it there. When she was done with the wine, she pulled it off the chair and put it back in her mouth.

    What was the guy’s reaction to you cleaning up his mess? Did the FA see it?

  3. I would have given the gum in the sickness bag back to guy while telling him, “Hey, I think you dropped this back there.”

  4. I work in I.T., and sometimes we give loaner laptops to executives. Lo and Behold, I got a laptop back from one of the execs, and this person left a ‘feminine napkin’ in the side pocket, where I was expecting a LAN cable and mouse. Not a sealed unused one, I might add.

  5. Oh man. The guy who flossed his teeth in J who was seated next to me and then put it in the area between us is my worst one. Gum in the overhead bin is pretty rotten.

  6. I did not see such thing happened on the airplane but I see people leave gum on the furniture in the room, window sill in the bathroom, and on the floor. Fortunately, it is titled floor or wood floor. They also put out cigarette butt on window sill and on furniture. It happens more frequently than I care to count. When your regular job is to deal with the public, people never cease to shock you what they show or how to express themselves: stupidity. What has the society become of or what people turn out to become? Incomprehensible, unacceptable and inexplicable.

  7. Ewww! That’s nasty indeed! You just wonder what goes through someone’s little brain to make them think “hey this seems like a good thing to do”??

  8. When I was thirteen, a girl who was on her first flight puked into my.shoes ( I had taken them off to relax).

  9. Got most of you beat…
    SNA – DFW
    Sat next to a guy who was “dipping” the entire way and spitting, all be it discretely, into a paper cup. When we landed he put the cup into the seatback pocket.

    I asked him if he was going to take it with him? “Nah… they’ll get it”.

    I don’t know how. He had stuffed it so far into the pocket you couldn’t even see it from the outside.

  10. UA724 in F a few years ago seated next to a man who picked the dead skin off his toes and then ate it! I had to cover my eyes to stop the gag reflex. He also didn’t wash his hands before having dinner.

  11. Sat next to someone that was eating his boogers (in F not that it matters). Guess he couldn’t wait for dinner service.

    BTW — Saw you on Tuesday but you disappeared before I said hi!

  12. We were on TACA from El Salvador to SFO a few years ago. An old man sat next to us that looked like just came down the mountain for the first time. He was spitting… not into a cup, or his hand, but AT THE SEAT in front of him. My wife couldn’t handle it, she complained to the FA. Who first feigned not to understand due to language barrier, etc 🙂 After a bit more complaining though the man was reseated next to a big spanish-speaking fellow, they probably figured he could talk some sense into him 😉

  13. More than gross, what the guy did with the gum is just downright mean-spirited. He had to have known (and probably intended) that it would get stuck to someone’s bag. As a sidenote, my sister’s family just came back from Singapore and they gave me a shirt that has all the “funny” laws and associated fines listed on it, including the no gum chewing one 🙂

    Guy hacking mucus and saliva into an air sickness bag, and then putting it back in the seat as if it were unused. I’d hate to be the next person to open that up, only to find it’s already been used.

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