A story going viral today reveals a dirty habit in the skies: passengers flying barefoot.
Jessie Char was traveling on a JetBlue flight from Long Beach (LGB) to San Francisco (SFO). She was thrilled when she realized that the two seats next to her would remain empty for her flight, one of the most pleasant surprises for any traveler. But then things took a turn. A pair of feet emerged from the row behind and perched on the arm rests.
“I noticed one of the armrests collapse, and so I looked over only to see a foot emerge from the row behind me,” Char told PEOPLE magazine. “It was writhing around on one armrest and there was a significant amount of toe wiggling. And then, from the other side of the chair, another foot emerged.”
Char says she considered informing a flight attendant but decided against it. The feet eventually disappeared after about 10 minutes when a flight attendant walked past her row.
Today, I flew on the set of a nightmare. pic.twitter.com/PNI4KmQvTG
— Jessie Char (@jessiechar)
Flying Barefoot is a Common Bad Behavior
Char tweeted an image of the feet that has been liked nearly 30,000 times and retweeted almost 6,000 times. It’s been picked up by numerous media outlets, and she says she’s been interviewed by Anderson Cooper. The story will likely appear tonight on Anderson Cooper 360.
I’m surprised at how much attention this story is getting. You can see images of passengers flying barefoot every day on the Facebook group Passenger Shaming, which has nearly 500,000 followers.
Bare feet are one of the most common bad behaviors on commercial flights, based on the number of images at Passenger Shaming. There are bare feet sitting on arm rests, stuck out in the aisle, propped against the bulkhead, even resting on tray tables. Yes, the same ones other passengers eat off of.
There are also images of barefoot passengers walking to the lavatory, and the owner of Passenger Shaming, a former flight attendant, is quick to point out that the liquid on the floors in airplane bathrooms is not water. Gross.
Bare Feet are Banned on Planes
It’s common etiquette to keep your shoes or socks on during a flight. But there’s a legitimate reason why you should, too: Air is recycled on planes, so smelly feet can infiltrate the air and cause discomfort to other passengers. Additionally, some people simply have an aversion to bare feet. If another passenger’s bare feet are bothering you or invading your space on a flight, do not hesitate to inform the flight attendant.
Here’s something you may not know: Bare feet are actually banned on commercial flights. Airline staff will ask you to put your shoes or socks on, and they can refuse to let you fly if the plane hasn’t departed yet. It’s in the “Contract of Carriage” you agree to when purchasing your ticket.
JetBlue’s contract of carriage states: “The following Passengers will be refused transportation on Carrier … persons who are barefoot and over five (5) years old.” The same list includes passengers who are disorderly, intoxicated or carrying a communicable disease.
Delta Air Line’s contract of carriage has similar language: “Delta may refuse to transport or may remove passengers from its aircraft in any of the following situations … When the passenger is barefoot.”
Hopefully, this viral story will remind passengers to keep their socks on during a flight. Air travel will be a lot more pleasant if we’re all more courteous to one another.
Ed. note: Comments for this article are closed. Activists known as “barefooters” have taken advantage of the open forum here to spread false and misleading information regarding the airlines’ prohibition on bare feet. Their main argument: They’ve been able to fly bare foot, so it must not be against the rules. This is patently false. Airlines restrict bare feet in their contracts of carriage, as this article makes clear.
On a similar note, airlines require passengers to wear seatbelts at specific times during the flight or whenever the captain turns on the seatbelt sign, yet thousands of passengers every day do not buckle their seatbelts at those times. The seatbelt rule still exists. It does not go away because some people don’t comply with it and, for whatever reason, were not told to by airline personnel.
I enjoy healthy debate, and some of the comments below make worthy points. However, this article appeared in a newsletter delivered to the barefooter community, and their voice has overwhelmed the actual facts within the article. Furthermore, the comments have become increasingly erratic and have veered toward personal insults. As such, no further comments will be allowed here.