Travel Tips

Acceptable Beauty Habits On Planes?

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Today I was reminded of what I must sometimes look like to fellow travelers, and I will definitely be paying more attention to my actions.

I had female passengers on either side of me and I watched, slightly startled, as the woman across the aisle pulled out hand lotion and engaged in a very thorough application of it to her hands. Not just applying, no, actively rubbing it in and holding her hands at chest level doing that intertwined hand motion that looks more like an advertisement for you’re  supposed to wash your hands. She then fluffed her hair repeatedly before abruptly and loudly brushing herself off.

20 minutes later my seatmate pulls out her iPad, but not to play. Nope. To use it as a mirror to very carefully re-do her hair and then to check several spots on her face. The seats are tight so there was no way for me to not be a part of the process.

Then the woman across the aisle pulls out her iPhone and starts checking her face and applying lip gloss. Then pulls out her compact and starts powdering her face. Not a quick refresher, but a very careful dabbing process. It was not attractive!

Now do I have problems with people doing personal grooming on planes? Not at all. And I don’t even have a problem with it happening at the seat, but I think there’s degrees of appropriateness. I’m guilty all the time of running a brush through my hair or reapplying lip gloss, but those are mostly quick actions that my seatmate can easily ignore if they wish.

To me, there’s a difference between filing a hangnail and shaping all ten at your seat (fortunately I’ve never seen toenails being trimmed in-flight like other bloggers have had to). A difference between a quick brushing of hair and an elaborate re-arrangement. The same with checking how your face looks and removing an offensive ear/nose hair. All these things can happen on a plane, but some are best saved for the restroom rather than your seat.

Related to that on the flight out the person in front of my (who was not deaf) was actively signing a song to herself, arms outstretched, bouncing slightly in her chair. It was distracting, and to me, not the most considerate choice. I don’t think people should sing out loud on a plane, nor for that matter should they talk to themselves, and signing a song vigorously seems to me to fall into the same category.

Watching those passengers in action made me realize how some of my past habits might make me distasteful to my fellow travelers and I’ve resolved to get better about chewing on the occasional hangnail or giving my hair undue attention.

What do others think? Am I being too harsh, should I reconsider what I think is acceptable?


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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