Absolutely Annoying Airport Lounge Behavior
Leah Walker September 25, 2013

Obviously, I love travel. I’ve built my own small business based on doling out advice and recounting the tales from my trips. From the outside, travel often appears glamorous, no matter the class of airplane ticket or stars associated with a hotel.

What’s often not seen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in my writing is the frustration of actually getting where I want to go. The airport drives, parking shuttles, check-in lines, security lines, frisking, rude passengers, late planes, missed connections, and lost luggage are often part of travel, but these unpleasantries are made slightly better when I walk into an airport lounge.

 Star Alliance Airport Lounge


As a Star Alliance Gold Member, I’ve gotten to see a variety of airport lounges around the world. I’ve become accustomed to the United Clubs and their delicious bloody Marys and sub-par selection of food that includes carrots, ranch dressing, cheese, crackers, shortbread cookies, and fruit. I get excited when I have a layover in Frankfurt; Lufthansa has a wonderful variety of cold beer and warm food, including great-tasting sausages. Clearly, some lounges are much better than others, but they all serve as a haven from the airport madness.

Except when they don’t.

 Lufthansa Airport Lounge


Since November, I feel like I’ve been traveling non-stop. Throughout that time, I’ve visited numerous lounges, so many that they tend to blend together. What stands out, however, is the bad behavior by fellow travelers within those lounges. By no means am I declaring myself the Emily Post of airport lounge behavior, but I’ve got a burr in my bottom about some of my fellow travelers’ actions. Here are just a few that left me shaking my head.

Loud Talkers

I get it, lovebirds. You’re on your honeymoon and headed to Paris for the first time. Yes, it’s a very happy time for you. Yes, you’re beyond excited. No, you don’t have to talk about your dream trip so loudly that every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the room know that you expect Champagne in your limo upon arrival.

Listen, Mom, I realize you really miss your one-year-old daughter, but Skyping your husband sans headphones and subsequently engaging in talk about the little girl’s bowel movements is not what anyone wants to hear.

Airport Lounge Credit

Hey, Senior Vice-President of Sales, I think it’s great that you closed that $50 million deal in China, but unless you’re giving everyone around you a cut of the profits, lower the volume or save it for the office.

And Grandma, I know you love your grandchildren beyond comprehension, but we don’t need to hear you shouting into your iPhone about all the wonderful souvenirs you’re bringing home.

I don’t expect complete quiet in an airport lounge, but I do expect my Bose noise-cancelling headphones and Spotify subscription to drown out the verbal pollution. I don’t’ think that’s too much to expect.

Uncouth Behavior

Every lounge I’ve ever visited provides plates, cups, napkins, silverware, and serving utensils. It’s a simple sanitation issue. Using bare hands to grab a muffin isn’t cool. Tongs are there for a reason. Use them.

Airport Lounge Food


While I’m on the subject of lounge eating, I don’t get people who hover over the food stations while biting into their apple. Are they so starved that they can’t wait until seated? People don’t graze—cows do. Get yourself a plate and load up on whatever your little heart desires. Then go to your chair and dig in. I don’t care if you guzzle from a milk carton at home, but thousands of people pass through airport lounges daily. It’s not only a matter of manners, but also sanitation.

Airport Lounge Food

Please, please, please, do not clip your nails, finger or otherwise, in the lounge. Go to the bathroom, or better yet, groom yourself prior to the airport. Ducking flying nail clippings like I’m in an elementary school dodge ball game isn’t something that is fun for me. Plus, it’s just plain nasty.

Shoe on a Table Credit

And for the love of all that’s holy, keep your shoes on. In addition, please keep them off the table. The lounge is not your living room.

 Airport Lounge Readers


For the most part, people that are regulars in airport lounges are polite and considerate of those around them. Instead, it’s those few that either disregard or are ignorant to what constitutes common courtesy, that drive me mad. No, travel isn’t always as glamorous as it appears, but it’s always an adventure, even in the airport lounge.

Featured Photo

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for four years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this… I have not traveled as much as you but this could not be any more TRUE!!! I think you should post this on every public site possible. 🙂

  2. We’re not as frequent a flyer as you, Leah, but we’re with you on the need for our fellow travellers to be more considerate. You probably couldn’t name individuals but you’ve definitely shamed them. Hopefully, any of them reading this will be encouraged to think more of others when they’re next in an airport lounge.

    1. I’ve given plenty of dirty looks and head shakes at a fair number of people in the lounges. Most of them don’t even realize that what they’re doing is rude.

  3. These complaints could apply to just about anywhere these days. You just expect a little better behavior inside the lounge. Unfortunately it does not always happen.

    The nail clipping thing drives me crazy. I once had a guy in the office across from mine that did that. Why can’t people do that at home?

    Here is something I have been thinking about lately when it comes to using the tongs. Do you really want to use the tongs that everyone has put their grubby hands all over and the eat using your hands? Just something to think about 🙂

    P.S. The USAir lounge in Charlotte has a quite room. No loud talkers there.

    1. You’re absolutely right about this applying anywhere. I had a guy in the cubicle next to me that would clip his nails, too. Drove me mad! As for your theory on the tongs, even if you touch the tongs that everyone else has been using, you can wash your hands after. Problem solved!

    1. Oh yeah. If you ever get a chance to go in a United Club, make sure and try one of their bloody Marys. If you can stand the heat, order it extra spicy. Have a few. They’ll mix ’em up for you on demand.

  4. You forgot the travellers who leave their belongings lying across the walkway. Also the ones who load up the empty seats next to them with their coat, laptop, carry on etc etc. There’s nothing more annoying than someone seeing you are stood needing a seat and you being forced to ask them to move their stuff…… argh!

  5. I haven’t had the chance to use an airport lounge yet (I don’t fly enough to rack up miles, and usually don’t have a layover long enough to warrant paying for their use), but even in the regular lounge you see all sorts of weird things. Especially in South America. I have definitely been party to the viewing of a good toenail picking (ew) from a rather gawdy dressed woman in open toed shoes who thought it ok to go after hidden gems tucked under her unkempt, fungal friendly looking toenails.

    As for the no shoes, I don’t get walking around with zero shoes, but yes, wearing sneakers for hours on end gets uncomfortable. that is why, I travel with ballet slippers. It’s like socks, but not. Once I get past check-in, I usually change into my ballet shoes. Not only are they comfortable, I can walk through airport security without having to take them off (most of the time guards don’t even realize they are not socks, and if they do, I usually get a few chuckles at my ingenious way to wear shoes without wearing shoes.

    But my sneakers go back on BEFORE I plane. I want real soles before ever stepping into an airplane bathroom. That water on the floor is probably not water.

    1. You are right on about the airplane bathrooms. I get the cold shivers when I have to use one. I wear slippers on the plane, too. I refuse to walk around with socks on. So freakin’ gross!

  6. The only complaint I have: LAX’s Skymiles Lounge: get it together, people don’t like hummus and pretzels. Where’s the real food, bro? Start learning from some of the lounges in Asia, like Bangkok’s. That one is amazing.

    1. Oohhhhh…you got that right, Nicole. The Asian airlines have the best lounges and Europe’s airlines aren’t bad either. Love Air New Zealand’s lounge at LAX.

    1. Thank you, but I’m afraid that even if lounges passed out a set of etiquette guidelines they would simply be ignored.That’s just how some people are.

  7. Leah,

    I hear you – nothing annoys me more than inconsiderate passengers. I loved this: “but Skyping your husband sans headphones …” – lol !

    What bothers me the most is the sound from earphones – people sitting next to you wearing apple earphones that make sure the world can hear what the owner is listening too – makes my blood boil!

    That said, we have been fairly lucky in that we haven’t had many horrible incidents !

    Loved your rant!

    1. Oh yeah, good point about the headphones. If I’m trying to concentrate on something, I can’t because I keep trying to jam out to my neighbor’s music. Very annoying!

  8. Totally on point…lounges are becoming more and more loud. My Macau lounge was great but small and you can hear pretty much everyone all the time. They need sound proof rooms!

  9. I’m nodding my head like crazy reading this! I am completely with you. There is nothing worse than looking forward to a bit of pre-flight peace only to be faced with hectic torture. It never fails to amaze me when people treat airport lounges like their living rooms. And as for loud conversations? I say to the culprits – If you can’t hear me, then I shouldn’t be able to hear you. So shut up.

    1. “If you can’t hear me, then I shouldn’t be able to hear you.” That sounds like something I’d say from my former teacher days. Haha! Well done!

  10. One day, I’ll get into that airport lounge and see for myself but I haven’t even been in there and I already agree with your rules! The headphones thing is the WORST and even applies to the Subway. If I can hear your music through your headphones, clearly they aren’t working.

    1. Yes, CLEARLY those headphones aren’t working. Drives me mad on a train, too. Perhaps there’s another post idea in the making: Rules for Riding a Train/Subway.

  11. Some people think the “Quiet Zone” signs do not apply to them. I’ve a coeague who keeps a sheaf of papers with “This is a QUIET ZONE and we prefer not to hear your conversation!” In multiple languages which are presented to the offenders with a smile.

    With regards to using tongs your observations also apply to hotels and their guest. Some major chains outside the US seem to feel sanitary standards are not an issue as do some guests. And don’t get me started in the parents who fail to teach their children the proper way to select something from the buffet. I wish I could clone the parents observing their very young children at the buffet table reminding them to use the provided utensils or “you have to take that since you touched that with your hand”.

  12. Excellent advise. This should be sent to each and every airline operator, as the management don’t seem to know and understand what passengers go thru in the lounges. I’m also still a strong believer on dress code in the lounges!
    Keep up the good work.

  13. The best Star Alliance Lounge I have found is at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, although Lufthansa’s in Frankfurt is good too. I have to say, after so much travel, I have little patience for people in the lounges, or even security. It drives me craaaaazy waiting behind people in security during peak travel times.

  14. Leah,
    These issues are, in my humble opinion common courtesy. I do not get why this type of behavior exists, unless they have a lack of self esteem (loudmouths) and no hygiene knowledge (toenail clippers, etc). I am grateful you wrote about it. Some of us think it every day, but just accept it. Maybe your lesson is we all should start approaching these people and letting them know they behavior is crass! Thanks.

    1. I think it’s a combination of not knowing, but also knowing and not caring. Some things people do in public just baffles me.

  15. Hilariously entertaining on the human non behaviour! As for lounges United sucks bigtime, I couldn’t believe being served raw carrots avec ranch dressing, (I’m not a rabbit) and cardboard wine. Air N Z has awesome lounges, with top local wine and food.

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