Evidence is uploaded regularly on Passenger Shaming, an Instagram account by former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen, who posts user-submitted photos and videos of noteworthy traveler behavior.
Even with fewer travelers in the skies, Kathleen has continued to receive messages about air travel shenanigans.
“I feel like I have a pretty good gauge on human behavior on airplanes at this point, and I hate to say that I’m not surprised,” Kathleen said. “However, the thought did cross my mind when [the pandemic] first started. I thought, ‘Okay, you know what? Maybe people will dial it back a little bit.’ ”
And while some people are dialing it back — others are dialing it up.
On a flight from Cancún, Mexico, to Guadalajara, Dante Muñoz was seated near a woman giving a foot massage to the passenger in the row behind her. Muñoz guesses it was a mother and her adult son.
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“As a Mexican or Latino, I know we have this type of connections with our moms but not on a plane and definitely not in the [aisle],” Muñoz said in an Instagram message.
He took a video of the scene and sent it to Kathleen, who posted it to Passenger Shaming. The video has since attracted more than 560,000 views and comments like “Nope nope no” to “Toe-vid 19″ and “oh dear god.”
Some people may sympathize with barefoot travelers. Flying is uncomfortable and stressful: Why not make it feel a little more like home? But others argue there’s no place for unsheathed soles in public, like flight attendant Raven Johnson, who recently watched a passenger walk barefoot into the lavatory.
“[It] just makes me cringe every time people do it. I don’t understand,” Johnson said. “Yes, they’re cleaning the planes a lot more than they used to, but still, you’re not at home.”
Even before the pandemic, Ebonie Vincent, podiatrist and star of the TLC series “My Feet Are Killing Me,” was concerned with the health risks of people going barefoot while traveling.
“I would love to give out information packets to these people so they can understand the potential consequences to walking barefoot in the airport on planes,” Vincent said in an email in February.
Vincent says that walking barefoot through public places like airport security can expose travelers to bacteria and viruses that can cause infections or warts.
“You could also pick up fungus, not to mention the millions of germs and bacteria that you could transfer to carpets, inside hotel rooms or homes and cars, which serves as a danger to other people,” Vincent said.
If you want to wear flip flops or sandals and don’t have TSA PreCheck (which allows travelers to keep their shoes on throughout the screening), Vincent recommends bringing a pair of socks to wear instead of going barefoot through security.
For the people going barefoot because their feet swell on planes, Vincent recommends wearing a pair of compression socks and closed-toe shoes throughout your flight.
And as for the people going sockless on flights anyway? “They should keep their feet on the floor,” Vincent said. “They should not put their feet on the seat at all, and they need to be certain that they put on shoes if they will walk anywhere, especially to the bathroom.”
Hannah Sampson contributed reporting to this report.