The 15 “Types” of People you find on Airplanes (Airport Bingo)

See how many of these "types" you can find on your next trip

Let me introduce you to my favorite game, “Airport Bingo.”

As someone who has lived on three continents and traveled to a handful of others, I spend copious amounts of time at the airport. And really, when you’re spending the second night in a row in the Chicago O’Hare airport because of snow, you have to find some way to keep your spirits up, or you will become just like everyone else.

In my case, I play Airport Bingo.

Airport Bingo the funny game Airplane Bingo

[All three “Airport Bingo” sheets are available at the end of this blog post. Just save and print them for your next trip!]

The rules are simple. In fact, I went ahead and made three scorecards, so you can play with friends. The winner gets to choose which over-priced beverage or snack they want from a nearby news stand; the losers have to split the bill. Or, if you play alone, it’s a great way to pass the time.

Rules of Airport Bingo:

Pick you card (or make your own). Whoever completes “Bingo” first wins. You can also play for “Double Bingo” (but playing Blackout Bingo is useless, since everyone has the same fifteen options.)

Feel free to add your own “types” of people – I wrote this post at the airport, waiting for my connecting flight (surprise, surprise). My fiance spent an hour chatting and pointing out “types” of people at the Nashville airport.

1. The in-flight drunkard

“What kind of hard liquors do you serve?”

Typically sitting toward the back of the plane (closer to the booze and flight attendants), this guy has the whole “drunk while 30,000 ft above central America) down to an art. Perhaps he spent too long at the airport bar, paying for over-priced drinks while chatting up other singles; perhaps she’s had a really rough day and needs a drink to get through the flight.

The in-flight drunkard also seems to have a never-ending supply of free drink coupons.

2. The late passenger, rushing to make their connection

When you hear their labored breathing and pattered footsteps behind you, you instinctual step out of the way.

I’ve been this person many a times. Sometimes I make the connection, sometimes I don’t. Such is life. Every once and a while, someone working in the airport will feel sorry for me and offer a ride in their cart to my gate.

3. Upon landing, the person who jumps up as soon as the “fasten seatbelt” sign goes off so they can cut ahead of the line – even if it means elbowing a little old lady out of the way – to get a whole two rows ahead of the other people in their row

“[On the phone] Yeah, I managed to get almost three rows ahead before everyone else stood up and started fiddling with their luggage. Ugh.”

I witnessed this the last time I flew from Austin to Philly – a man was in a hurry to make a connecting flight (oddly enough, the same one I was one). As soon as the fasten seatbelt sign went off, he rushed forward. He got two rows ahead before the aisle filled up, and even then, she tried to slip in front of an elderly women, hitting her with his stomach and knocking her back into her old seat isle. Then he proceeded to pull out his phone, call his friend, and complain about how he might not be able to make his connection because a bunch of people were “loitering in the aisle.” My only thought (aside from the did you really just push a woman with your stomach back into her seat? was … you realize we can all hear your conversation, right? Is that intentional? )

He got off the plane a whole minute and a half ahead of me (good for him) and with some brisk and purposeful walking, I passed him somewhere around gate C 25. We both made our connecting flight.

Don’t shove old ladies so you can get two rows ahead. That kind of makes you a jerk. Wait your turn.

4. The overly-prepared traveler

They have energy bars, anti-nausea medicine, an external battery for their laptop, a slew of games, movies to play on their laptop, and books to read. Yet, despite their reservoir of supplies, they always seem to pack light.

They are the pros of air travel and seem to make the best seat-mates.

5. The woman who spends copious amounts of time in the bathroom fixing her makeup before landing

You can find this woman in her natural habitat – holding up a long line of uncomfortable passengers at the back of the plane during the last hour of flight time. Every once and a while someone will knock, to get the answer “Just a minute!”

And, true to her word, ten minutes later, she will emerge from the bathroom unapologetically clutching her makeup bag with a pristine, manicured hand – a cut above the rest of us who drank too many free apple juice boxes mid-flight.

Lady, I get that you want to look “100% presentable, all the time,” but I guarantee the mirrors in the bathroom in the airport have MUCH better lighting than the cramped, sketchy airplane bathrooms. Plus, we all really have to pee. And I kind of hate you now.

6. The hard-core sleeper

You know this person when you see them: ear plugs, neck pillow, back pillow, blankets, and a functional eye mask. Sometimes you will even see them popping a couple sleeping pills before the plane takes off. They know what they like (sleeping) and what they don’t (noisy, bumpy airplanes) – you have to give them kudos.

7. The “talker,” trying to find sympathetic ear 

“Oh, you’re from Texas? I once passed through El Paso on the way to California. My granddaughter lives in California, she is an artist and owns her own studio. Here is a picture of her latest art-show.”

A regular hit or miss, these kind (often lonely) souls are looking for a friend. My favorite are elderly men and women who show me pictures of their grandkids and/or tell me stories from their youth that somewhat relate to something I might have mentioned. They always have the best stories.

On that note, my least favorite “lonely” soul are the ones a similar age to myself. Typically a woman in her late twenties to late thirties, she wants to talk about her horrible job, lousy ex-boyfriend, and past accomplishments. And then gets upset if you try to read your book, because she has a really interesting story to tell you about the creepy guy that hit on her last week when she was downtown. When my friend tells me awkward dating stories, I’m all in – but if I don’t know you, I’m not obligated to laugh at all your jokes when all I really want to do is beat level 168 on Candy Crush Saga (I have a problem).

8. The poor soul who has been in transit for 28 hours

“What day is today? Thursday…? Oh man… I need to shower.”

Perhaps they are travelling internationally; perhaps they just missed a couple connections or were stranded in an airport overnight because of bad weather.

Bed hair, deep bags under their eyes, smugged makeup, and a vague smell of stale air. They spend the flight in a state of partial consciousness, ready to follow asleep at the drop of a hat (mid conversation).

9. The person who spends the flight complaining about how “babies should not be allowed to fly”

Don’t be a baby-hater. I get that babies are annoying when they cry… but you are equally annoying when you whine. If it bothers you so much, bring earplugs next time. No need to make the exhausted parents feel any worse about it.

[Note: It is totally and completely 100% ok to complain to friends and family later about the screaming baby, but don’t do it in front of the parents, especially if you are only complaining to try to guilt the parents into never taking their small human on a plane ever again. That’s just mean. Tiny humans (babies) have rights too.]

10.  The young, first-time flyer who, after take-off, learns flying in a plane isn’t as fun as they thought it would be

“Woah, look at all the houses. They’re so tiny. We’re flying! … … This plane is loud. I want to run around the plane. What do you mean ‘sit down and shut up for the next three hours?”

I pity these young flyers. They start so hopeful and excited… until they realize that flying in a plane isn’t as excited as the Car’s spin-off “Turbo” leads you to believe.

11. In the event of a delay, the person who complains loudly (and often) about how *they* might miss their connecting flight

And demands the steward or stewardess to change them to a quicker flight/call ground control at the upcoming airport to hold the next plane/tell the pilot to fly faster.

Trust me, you’re not the only one worried about a missed connection.

The flight attendant is not going to call ground control at Chicago Airport to hold your plane for you, she is not able to switch you to a different flight 30,000 feet above the ground in a flying metal box, and she is also not going to tell the pilot to fly faster (all of these are things I’ve heard people ask flight attendants; I used the word “she” because all three happened to women).

Freaking out about your connection won’t solve anything; as soon as you land (if you miss your connection), head over to any of your airline’s desks and ask to be put on another flight. They want to help you. They really do. I’ve done this several times; a little bit of kindness and understanding goes a long way.

12. The person who brought an entire, aromatic meal onto the plane

You can smell them twelve rows back as soon as they open the crinkly burger wrapper.

Part of me wants to go back and ask for a bite (KFC fries are to die for) and part of me wants to just plug my nose so I will strop drooling. These smart travelers have figured out the easiest way to pass the time is with a nice bag of popcorn and a movie. They’ve also learned better than to trust in-flight meals.

13. The obviously terrified first-time flyer

You kind of just want to reach out, pat them on the back, and say “It’s ok. I do this all the time. You’re safe.”

But you don’t do that, because that would be creepy.

14. The couple on their first trip together (possibly a honeymoon)

You know these people, all lovey-dovey, excited, and super-excited to be on the plane. Everything is magical.

These couples give you a little bit more faith in true love – while at the same time kind of grating your nerves because they are so cute together.

15. The woman in high stilettos and a tight dress, having problems with her luggage.

I am a fan of dressing up rather than dressing down in nearly every occasion. Airports and marathons of Sherlock are my two exceptions. Airports are cold, dirty, cramped, and full of walking, sitting, and maneuvering your way though the bumpy plan – none of which are conducive to high heels. So women who are struggling to make it to the gate with their luggage stick out like a sore thumb.

And, you know, Sherlock marathons typically last 6 hours – so just wear PJs like everyone else.

Airport Bingo the funny game Airplane Bingo


Airport Bingo the funny game Airplane Bingo


Airport Bingo the funny game Airplane Bingo




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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

12 Comments on The 15 “Types” of People you find on Airplanes (Airport Bingo)

  1. Yeah, I’ve seen most of these types myself (I fly a lot myself, I guess. I work for an American company, I basically have a trip of 4 to 6 weeks every year to Loveland, Colorado). Especially hate those scumbags #3 who will do literally anything just to get ahead in order not to miss their connecting flight. To any of you who are like that, seriously, you are not the center of the universe, everyone is rushing to get off the plane. If you are so worried about the connecting flight, you should have arranged your flight with a longer transit time for buffer.

    I have only met talkers in American domestic flights. People seem less friendly on the international flights. There was once that I spent more than an hour listening to an elderly couple talk about their latest trip to San Francisco to visit their son and newborn granddaughter. We were flying from San Francisco to Denver. I ended up giving them a ride home to Longmont in my rental car, and got myself a free authentic home cooked American (well, Coloradoan) dinner. It was one of my best experience while traveling for business so far.

    • I always wondered if airline attendants played any “spot the X” games or something like that to keep the flight interesting. I have a couple of friends who work as international hostesses – I’m insanely jealous. The job has great perks.
      Sadly, I get plane sick really easily, so it’s out of the question.

      And, like you mentioned, I get frustrated with #3, the people who are rude and feel like the world revolves around them. It’s just… ugh. I don’t know if I could deal with people like that all day – and have endless respect for people who can.

      I do love sitting next to little old ladies (and sometimes middle-aged ladies) because they are great talkers :)

  2. People found on airplanes: Grace.

    Every time I fly it occurs to me that people in airports/on planes are generally doing one of a fairly small number of activities (reading a book/newspaper/magazine, on the phone, listening to music, on the computer, napping, taking care of a small child, etc.) and that I have done pretty much all those things in an airport except for taking care of a small child.

  3. Oh and I can prob relate to #14 when we flew together to New York for honeymoon. Don’t remember anything about that flight, but I’m sure we prob fit your stereotype here.

    • I really do fit a number of these too (which is why it was so easy to recognize it with others). I always bring my own meals on the plane, with an eye mask+air pillow for napping after.
      And when my fiance and I get placed on separate seats, we always ask/beg people to switch with us. Every. Single. Time.
      I’m so sure we’re that obnoxious couple no one wants to sit next to. Oops.

      But it’s kind of cute to see honey-mooners. So in love :)

  4. This made me laugh! Love it. I am guilty of having been #2,4,10, and have been a victim of #9 (the parent with a baby who was scolded by the guy in front of us. The man was so rude…it’s not like I could help it or my baby daughter knew better.)

    • I really dislike baby-haters. I mean, come on. The parents have enough to worry about. They can’t magically make their child stop crying (or leave it at home when they go on vacations, etc)

      I feel like if people get really bothered by babies crying, they should invest in a good pair of earplugs (rather than trying to guilt the parents).

      • I know! Or at least keep quiet about it! Somehow adult whining is worse than baby whining… I even gave my daughter Benadryl on that flight just to calm her and keep her quiet, but that still didn’t work. She was over-tired, over-stimulated, and didn’t like being in a cramped space. I don’t blame her! Anyway, enjoyed this article as I think you nailed every kind of flyer. It will be a fun game to play on my next flight.

  5. Too funny! I am so printing these out for our family the next time we fly! We would be the 20-hours-in-transit folks for sure! It’s been many years since I got to gab with (or, got trapped having to listen to) a stranger – I’m always surrounded by my kids (none of whom cry or scream on the flight anymore, thank God)! I long to be the “hard core sleeper,” but, alas, I can never sleep on an airplane.

    • I’m glad you liked it :)

      Last time I flew from Japan to the states, I was trapped between a person who brought an entire meal on the plane and a person who had a serious grudge against crying babies. It was… interesting.
      I hope you have fun with the Airport Bingo!

  6. cubiclethrowdown // 16 December, 2013 at 6:55 pm //

    This is hilarious!! I’m pretty sure someone will get a ‘bingo’ on pretty much every flight.

    I totally reassure scared people :) My dad is an airline pilot, was a military pilot before that and I had a pilots license way back in the day and for some reason that calms a lot of them down when I tell them that. I also make up something reasonable and normal about each noise is that’s scaring them because most of the time I have no idea what’s making that sound :)

    • Oh that’s good. I’ve reassured a scared flyer once or twice, but I always feel to awkward to initiate the conversation… But I’m glad you do.

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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