American Airlines Passenger Paints Her Toenails, Drinks Her Own Beer In First Class

Among the worst things you do on a plane – that doesn’t include touching another passenger – are draping your hair over someone else’s seat back, covering their entertainment screen, and sticking your bare feet in the air or on someone else’s tray table.

So it sure has to be up there for a passenger to be painting toenails at their seat during the flight. Personal grooming of any kind at your seat, surrounded by hundreds of people in close proximity, is just wrong isn’t it? The woman isn’t just painting her nails, she’s sending the waft of nail polish into the cabin.

But this woman wins the passenger shaming daily double because she’s also reportedly drinking beer that’s she’d brought on board her American Airlines flight, too.

While a passenger can drink alcohol they’ve brought on board if it’s served to them by a flight attendant, they cannot drink that alcohol surreptitiously. These rules are designed to limit consumption by passengers who might otherwise drink too much, and whose behavior could spin out of control and threaten the rest of the flight.

At least she didn’t clip her nails on the flight, and flick one onto the passenger beside her. What would you do? I’d probably ask them to stop painting their nails. But someone who’s this antisocial seems just as likely to escalate a conflict as to resolve one. They’re already drinking. You can ask for the help of a flight attendant.

If there’s an empty seat on the aircraft, your best bet may be to move. That’s rare in first class. Ask a flight attendant first, and explain the reason for your move. But if there’s nowhere to move, nowhere to run, it’s another situation where you’re stuck next to someone inside of a metal tube where fate places you in an uncomfortable situation. That’s when I maybe get a little bit passive aggressive? How would you torture them back as revenge for their behavior?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Chalk it up as one of the gazillion cases of Air Passengers Behaving Badly, in most of these the airline is one of the victims (along with all of the other passengers that day) and not a co-perpetrator. By the way, what’s with the headline referencing Toenails, the pic appears to show Fingernails ? The other odd thing is that she’s drinking her own beer in 1st Class ??? Literally any beer on board is going to be better than Bud Light (and handed to her with a cocktail napkin and a smile), did she lose a bet or something ? About the only thing that makes any sense is that drinking Bud Light and doing stupid things has a strong positive correlation.

  2. Eh, doesn’t seem that bad to me.

    There’s nothing inherently gross about painting a fingernail, and I actually don’t mind the smell of nail polish…might help cancel out all of the farts being blasted in the cabin (which Gary has already well documented and covered in other posts).

    As far as the BYOB, she’s obviously flown AA enough to know not to expect any high level of drink service, even in first class. The FA’s probably appreciate it, as it frees up more time for them to look at their phones in the galley.

  3. On the bright side, she’s not doing her toe nails lol. I wouldn’t mind a seat mate doing a quick touch up on a finger nail or two. BYO beer’s ok in my opinion.

  4. Last December I was flying IAD-CLT on AA and a UA FA who I assume was commuting was filing her nails down mid-flight.

  5. If (as it looks like) she’s painting her finger nails I don’t care and like the smell too. Likewise for her own booze.

    If her toes, meh. Not classy at all.

    I use to have a boss who trimmed them in front of me. Thank God they fired him.

  6. I never realized that JT Genter considers himself to be an air marshal. Maybe he is still bitter after being terminated by The Points Guy.

  7. As a flight attendant for one of the big 3 airlines, I would tell her to stop painting her toe nails cause the fume goes everywhere and the air is recycled. Also, it can make some people sick. As for the beer, it’s FAA regulations that paxs cannot bring their own alcohol on board. You can bring alcohol from duty free but you can open it and drink it on the plane.

  8. Painting your nails inflight it actually not allowed. As far as I know American does serve bud light.

  9. They’re in coach. You can see the third drink tray and the “bulkhead” separating Economy from first.

  10. This isn’t F; it is the first row of Y. You can see the Y seats / headrests and also the literature holder on the side wall.

  11. I am a Flight Attendant and you are not permitted to use nail polish of any kind aboard a US flight. Finger or Toe makes no difference, its prohibited. Shame on the passenger, but shame on the F/A for not calling out said passenger on the nail polish snd alcohol violations.

  12. 1: This doesn’t appear to be First Class, look at the headrests.

    2: It’s literally against the law for her to use this chemical onboard. Federal Laws don’t care if some “don’t mind” the smell.

    3. The beer is ONLY okay of she gave/handed it to the FA amd the FA then “served” it to her (typically they would pour it into a cup). This is to cut down on drunk passengers and overserving.

    4. AA Flight Attendants “checked out” a long time ago. It’s really, really sad too. But at this point, I hope they do attempt to go on strike at Christmas and then are blocked by the Biden Admin. Then they are locked out by management and replaced by non-union FA’s.

  13. The behavior on both points is not acceptable. But why would the person objecting be the one that has to move? That makes no sense is completely unacceptable. The person with bad behavior should have to be the one to stop and to move.

  14. Federal law prohibits the consumption of alcohol passengers brought onboard the aircraft. Because the aircraft/airline passes over multiple jurisdictions, the laws of that jurisdiction are technically enforceable. Our aircraft carry a “blanket” issued liquor/spirits license in the same pouch as the airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration, certificate of sanitary construction (for the galley) and…the liquor/spirts license. I’m not surprised that the AA flight attendant didn’t stop the passenger’s disregard of the law. Oh, well.

  15. You can’t use nail polish on board it’s gonna cause fire. And you are no longer able to bring your own alcoholic beverages and have flight attendant to serve you.

  16. Just upend the bottle of polish into her beer can. Would get rid of the chemical smell, improve the flavor of that particular beer and discourage similar behavior on her next flights.

  17. In JTs original post on X there is no mention of the woman painting her toenails, and the picture clearly shows she’s painting her fingernails on the tray table.

  18. Under FAA regulations, passengers can bring and consume their own alcohol on board an aircraft, provided that it is served by a flight attendant (so they can monitor the amount of consumption).

    U.S. airlines, however, go further and only allow passengers to consume the airline’s alcohol that is served to them by a flight attendant.

  19. Almost every airline has a policy against nail polish use onboard because of its flammable materials and noxious chemicals

  20. I would take my play school scissors, the only ones allowed on board and aircraft, and cut her hair into a jagged mess. Then I’d shoot paper clips with a rubber band at her toes. When she stands up to b****, I’ll point to the lady sitting next to me.

  21. To 1KBrad. Part § 121.575 states: “Alcoholic beverages (a) No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him.” Which is indeed true. The “certificate holder” is the airline. This does NOT mean that the passenger can hand the crew member the bottle and the crew member hand it back and consider it “served”. One must also consider the liability should the crew member take from and then “serve” an illegal substance to the passenger. The FAA now has zero tolerance for intoxicated passengers and the fines are hefty, too. Don’t try it on my airline.

  22. Former AA F/A, here. Nail polish is a volatile substance and not to be used on board. However, high on my list of faux pas in my 15-year F/A career is the passenger who distributed dental floss to everyone on the plane after a breakfast service. We asked him to stop but he refused. So we had to ask the passengers to not use it. Some used it anyway and left it in their seatback pockets. After the flight, we had to comb through every seat to find all the dental floss.

  23. Carrying on nails polish and remover is allowed domestically. However USING them is not allowed by atleast 1 carrier I know of.

    Anyone doing it should be stopped immediately.

  24. In what country was she flying to/from ?? I am from the US where all liquids on a commercial airliner have to be no more than 3.4 ounces and fit in the only quart-sized plastic bag we are allowed to bring on board. It is called the 3-1-1 rule which includes personal hygiene items like toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, mouthwash, lotion and saline solution. Beer is not an acceptable item to bring onto a plane in my country… we can’t even bring on a small plastic bottle of water

  25. I would have forced the FA to make them stop with the nail polish. It gives me an instant migraine. Completely unacceptable even if it were legal.

  26. “Accidently” spill my own airline-supplied beer on her while she’s painting her toenails?

    All these people saying that they like the smell of nail polish are just plain thoughtless and selfish. YOU may like the smell, but most people don’t, and for many it can stir up their asthma or other breathing problems.

  27. Both of what she’s doing are illegal. Drinking her own alcohol and using nail polish in the cabin.

  28. Just reading the comments here from the legion of inept, uneducated, uninformed, rouge fliers, gives me a bad case of airsickness. My first inclination is to alert the FA regarding this, since they are in charge, and if they don’t resolve the problem, demand to be reseated. Ignoring a grievous situation by shrugging ones shoulders is not the solution.

  29. I believe nail polish is considered limited quality hazmat because if the fumes. The flight attendants should have removed the polish and reported it immediately to the flight deck.

  30. Ok, so, like, WOMEN can bring FLAMMABLE NAIL POLISH on board a flight but, THEY TAKE AWAY A MANS COLOGNE!


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