With Passenger’s Bare Feet In The Air, American Airlines Says “Everyone’s Trying To Stay Comfy”

On Thursday’s American Airlines flight 754 from Philadelphia to Paris a passenger snapped a photo of a man on board in economy, shoes off and feet in the air, draped over the seat in front of him.

Bare feet on a plane is such an awful thing to do to the rest of the passengers in the cabin that a passenger with smelly feet once drove another so nuts that he got stabbed on arrival in the parking lot.

A United Airlines flight attendant reportedly once offered a passenger a $1000 voucher to take their feet off the tray table. I’m confident this was a bluff, that the airline wouldn’t have made good. But they were trying to creatively solve the problem.

The American Airlines passenger, though, complained that flight attendants didn’t do anything about Feet in The Air Man. They took to social media to show what was happening.

And American Airlines responded – appearing to excuse the behavior! After all, “everyone’s trying to stay comfy” in the back of that Boeing 787.

I suppose I have 5 reactions to this.

  1. 9 seats across in coach on a Boeing 787 is pretty rough, anything to make that bearable across The Pond – even bare feet?

  2. And that passenger is departing Philadelphia…

  3. But shouldn’t you have more couth headed to Paris of all places?

  4. And it’s also rough on the people around you! They’re stuck in the coach seats and you’ve got your bare feet in the air? That seems about the only way to making things worse than they already are.

  5. American Airlines used to call their entertainment and internet options on board a “living room experience” but that was suppose to refer to their domestic aircraft with high speed internet, not these widebodies that still have seat back TVs.

It’s never appropriate to show male feet outside of your close circle of contacts. It’s certainly not appropriate on an airplane, where you’re all stuck together inside of a metal tube and where you’re likely invading on someone else’s space. Staying comfy is great as long as it doesn’t take away from the comfort of another passenger.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. That is beyond disgusting and it would not at all surprise that the passenger in question was American. This is the America of today. Do whatever the fuck you want, believe anything anyone tells you, so long as you have a chance to make money, or in this case, head home in a few days and brag about having gone to Europe. The passenger should be fined or suspended from flying AA for a specific period of time.

  2. The last paragraph is a bit bizarre. Male (or any) bare feet are fine at the beach, the pool, the park and quite a few other settings where you’re not necessarily with “a close circle of contacts”. Not in an airplane certainly.

  3. This is why one should always carry a Sharpie in their carry-on. (They’re plenty useful for other things as well.) After demanding that he remove his foot, not to mention pushing on your seatback, if he refuses, a quick jab of the dull end of a Sharpie into the arch of an offending foot won’t leave a mark, giving one plausible deniability, but send an unmistakable message, and hurt like hell later.

    Think Mr. Foot is going to complain? He’s going to have to explain that he was just sticking his foot in your face…

    FWIW, when flying economy, SO has more than once stood up, turned around, and told children pushing on seatbacks to knock it off, with their parent sitting right next to them. Not going to put up with that for eight hours. It’s also why we now fly business.

  4. One more of Gary’s pet peeves. He is a germaphobe that hates shared shampoo/soap dispensers and also have some hangup about body imaging machines (not sure why he cares if anyone can see anything – I certainly don’t). Now this. Sure I find it offensive if put in someone’s face but can’t tell if that is the case here. Just having bare feet around doesn’t bother me. I take my shoes off on most flights (do wear socks though) and certainly wouldn’t go to the restroom in bare feet. However, this is making too much of the situation. I like American’s response and feel it is right – you can’t respond to every Karen that has a problem.

  5. Never underestimate the lack of class of the public, particularly since the recent travel resurgence. I’ve been flying for 4 years and it is appalling these days.
    Yes, @C_M a sharpie to the foot is a deterrent. And if the pax challenges or threatens you, well, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas showed another use for a sharp pen that would certainly work.

  6. Never underestimate the lack of class of the public, particularly since the recent travel resurgence. I’ve been flying for 40 years and it is appalling these days.
    Yes, @C_M a sharpie to the foot is a deterrent. And if the pax challenges or threatens you, well, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas showed another use for a sharp pen that would certainly work.

  7. @AC, you’re a disgusting neanderthal. One’s meet should stay front and center on an aircraft. They should not be positioned in the next row at nose level with the adjacent seat’s inhabitants.

  8. This is just f’in disgusting. About the only defense I can make for this guy is that he may have figured that the passenger in front of him was sleeping anyway. And that is not an excuse.

    Anyone who reads enough travel blogs without actually flying would be excused for thinking that every plane is filled with a-holes. Fortunately, that is not true—assuming you’re not departing from Florida.

  9. Pickin on Gary again. You dont have to be a germaphobe to be repulsed by low level people. I would design a seat for bad passengers that will eject them from plane for obnoxious behavior. We should not have to endure the bus terminal onboard.

  10. Typical American.
    It also shouldn’t be lost on everyone that this old person is also wearing shorts. Men shouldn’t be allowed to wear shorts over the age of 30.

  11. Former airline ground operations supervisor here. That’s disgusting and so is the flight attendant’s response. I’d pass that along to AA management on social media.

    Would YOU want to use that headrest on the next flight? I sure as hell wouldn’t!

  12. I can’t believe the plane has so many empty seats. I have no problem if someone uses a row to rest and lie across 3-4 seats in their own space but there is no excuse for shoving your feet on top of someone else’s space. I am sure the flight attendant quickly got him to move his feet.

  13. @koggerj – from your previous comments, you indicated that you were American… now, your comment appears …. different.

    If you are going to be a troll, little barking poodle, at least try yo be consistent.

  14. “It’s never appropriate to show male feet outside of your close circle of contacts”

    Agree with the rest of this piece, but I am reading this in a bar wearing flip-flops. Am I the baddies? (If so, does it help that it’s my hotel bar?)

  15. Obviously this person is an adult and can speak up for themselves. Why do you need to involve the FA? They are there for safety and they aren’t about to get in a pissing contest. Handle it yourself.

  16. American Airlines policy lists bare feet as a reason to remove a passenger from the airplane. No ifs, ands or buts.

  17. A few random thoughts;
    -Why is it necessary to point out Philly? These people exist everywhere unfortunately.
    -I’ve met a few uncouth people in Paris and they weren’t Americans.
    -What has happened to common decency or common sense? Not so common anymore and that’s
    sad.
    -Excellent example to motivate travelers to use points/miles to fly in Premium Economy or higher
    class to hopefully avoid such!

  18. On Wednesday night, I was flying Delta. The rear restroom wasn’t working so everyone had to use the one up front. There was a line. The floor was disgusting. I saw a barefoot person go into that same restroom. Holy smokes.

    NOW imagine the feet on the headrest. Good gravy.

    I’d say Gary is expressing justifiable disgust.

  19. I have seen this before and posted pics to the Passenger Shaming Twitter feed.

    @Maxine / handle it yourself so you can get punched in the face by someone “standing their ground” feeling threatened? Everyone thinks they have unlimited freedumb to do whatever they want to do regardless of the impact on another person.

    @Reno Joe – I am often in first (due to biz travel/status) and sat next to a gentleman wearing flips…who took them off immediately upon being seated…and then made multiple trips to the bathroom in those bare feet. Will never forget it (this is as bad as people sitting on carpeted airport floors near the bathrooms charging their devices). Vile.

  20. On flight EWR-SAT the F agent let everybody and their cousin use the F lavatory. We were all offended.

  21. I don’t always agree with Gary, but this time he is 100% correct….and I would never let someone’s feet rest in the face of another passenger. That is beyond disgusting. But, now that we live in an age of “it’s all about me”….who is surprised.

  22. In the quest for gender equality, people have fought hard around the world, and some people have even died. Gender equality should apply to everything from equal pay, to equal rights to hold public office, to equal clothing rights. And yet, the author says “It’s never appropriate to show MALE feet outside of your close circle of contacts”. Are you aware that people have died in the fight for gender equality?
    It is one thing to write an article about people’s behaviour on the plane, but this article seeks to undermine universal fundamental rights. This is NOT ok.

  23. Totally disagree with the author. When we watch news of protests in Iran, where (only) women are forced to cover their heads with headscarves, we sense a deep-seated injustice and gender inequality. So why should anyone be happy to endorse an article that tries to force (only) men to cover their feet? After all, it says: “It’s never appropriate to show male feet outside of your close circle of contacts”.
    We are a free and equal society!

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