Plane Etiquette Tip: Be careful about personal grooming

a bottle of perfume with a starAfter a flight last week, I realized I may have left something out of the Plane Etiquette Roundup from a few weeks ago. Something important. I was flying home from Nashville and preparing to enjoy a nap after a long, long day trip. Almost asleep, I was at that in-between stage where you’re still kind of aware of your surroundings but very relaxed. Suddenly a huge cloud of odor accosted my nose. It took a second for me to react, but I jerked upright, looking for the culprit. A woman across the aisle and two rows up was spraying perfume on herself. (To give you a little background: I am incredibly sensitive to scents. I can get a migraine in seconds from certain smells, and am allergic to many others. Luckily, I actually have a pretty terrible sense of smell normally. I like to think it’s my body’s way of protecting me from harm. Anyway.) I immediately started sneezing repeatedly, getting curious stares from my neighbors. Eventually I stopped sneezing, but my eyes were itchy and watery the rest of the flight. (Pictured: the very lovely Thierry Mugler Angel Eau de Toilette. Smells great, but wait until you land!)

Another example: fingernail clipping. Remember what happened to my friend several months ago? Well, after I relayed this perfume story to the Home Warrior, he told me an even worse story that happened to him on a recent flight. He was looking at stuff on his iPhone when a piece of a fingernail hit his tray table. (I shudder as I write this.) Turns out the guy in front of him was clipping his nails and lost control of one. I asked the HW why he didn’t tell me about this when it happened, and he said he knew I would freak out. He was right.

There are many personal grooming things that simply should not be done when you are in close confines with other people. Spraying perfume, clipping your nails…. I’ve even seen people brushing their hair and clumps of hair flying onto the people behind them. Please be aware of those around you, and if there is any way that what you are doing could impede on their personal space, wait until you land. Obviously not all personal grooming activities are irritating to other passengers—using a cleansing cloth on your face or hands, putting on makeup—those kinds of things can be done without disturbing fellow passengers. Just be mindful! And remember, you’re sharing a small space with hundreds of others. When in doubt, wait until landing. Your neighbors will thank you.


  1. Not to mention nail filing : I really need to inhale particles of other pax body for hours at end in a confined metal tube?

  2. That’s why I only fly in F or C class and a solo seat with no one near me. The only way to deal with it.

  3. Same here with the perfume!

    I had a finger nail “clipping” incident where the person next to me was biting off his finger nails and spitting them into his empty drink cup. I am feeling nauseous all over again just typing that out!

  4. When I was a kid a lady across the aisle was putting on a full set of fake nails-clipping, filing, nail glue, polish etc ,

  5. I once sat across from a lady who actually started painting her nails. OMG, what the heck was she thinking. I had to tell her myself that she was harming others.
    Geesh people get a clue!!

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