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We've rated the internet’s most controversial travel hacks

From genius to downright unhinged

Published by
Raph Giacardi·23/06/2023

The internet is awash with travel hacks, some useful, others bonkers and a few just plain deranged. We’ve compiled 10 of the most controversial and rated them on a naughty scale from ‘parent safe’ to ‘try at your own risk’.

1) The Evil Twins

Travelling in twos? Find an empty row and book the window and aisle seat, leaving the middle one free. That’s the advice from a fair few influencers.

Those middle seats are the least popular and less likely to be booked. Worst-case scenario: someone books the middle seat and you ask them to switch for either your aisle or window seat.

👿 rating: 3 – disapproving look from your nan

2) The Covert Switcheroo

One that’s getting increasing air time on the TikTok-sphere: just before boarding, go on the airline’s app and pretend you want to switch seats. Have a good look at what seats are still available.

Found a better seat than your allocated one? Board the plane and shamelessly sit in it. Chances are nobody will challenge you.

👿 rating: 5 – 6am Ryanair flight to Hell from Stansted

3) The Call of Duty-Free

An old one, but a good one: travellers often forget they are allowed a duty-free bag in addition to their carry-on.

Worried your hand luggage is on the big side and might get you in trouble at the gate? Just ask for a plastic bag at the duty-free shop and fill it with your belongings. Great last-minute saver if you’ve overpacked.

👿 rating: 1 – still on Santa’s nice list

4) The Pillow Talk

A riff on the previous hack, but involving more cunning forward planning.

Want to increase your hand luggage allowance? Buy a neck pillow with a removable cover. Get rid of the stuffing and shove as much clothing inside the cover as you feasibly can. That’s like a free mini cabin bag with every flight. Think of all the savings!

Long-haul variant: upgrade your neck pillow for a full-sized one.

👿 rating: 2 – Michael O’Leary crying in his… pillow

5) The Lucky Number 13

Many of us don’t like the number 13 – and to a lesser extent, 17. Great – fewer people are likely to book these rows (and more people are likely to change seats if they’re assigned those rows). That’s your cue to move in.

Just be aware that many airlines have addressed the row-13 issue by going straight from 12 to 14.

👿 rating: 1 – so vanilla my mum could do it

6) The Cold War

The plane’s just taken off and the big dude in front has already reclined his seat. Livid. Don’t worry: a life-hack expert has the answer.

Open that little air conditioning vent to the max and point it straight at the big dude’s skull. If it doesn’t make him straighten his seat, it’ll give you that sweet, sweet taste of revenge. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

👿 rating: 3 – all is fair in love and seat-reclining war

7) The Cancel Culture

Fancy a row to yourself? Book a seat on a free row, followed by fully refundable tickets for the row’s other two seats, says one TikToker.

Cancel the fully refundable tickets at the last minute.

👿 rating: 4 – up there with smashed avocados and flat whites, according to my dad

8) The Child’s Play

If you love travelling on the cheap, children are not your friends. They will savage your holiday budget. But they do come in handy for one thing: most airlines will let you check in two pieces of kids' equipment (travel cot, car seat, pushchair…) free of charge.

Most travel cots come with transport bags. How can you be blamed if a few items of clothing ended up accidentally in there?

👿 rating: 1 – go in peace; your sins are forgiven

9) The Many Happy Returns

Want to travel really, really light? Easy: travel only with the clothes on your back, a TikToker suggests. Once at your destination, it’s shopping-spree time.

Just be careful with your purchases: you’re only meant to keep them until the last day of your trip when you’ll head back to all those shops and return everything.

👿 rating: 4 – this blog does not constitute legal advice

10) The Pandemic Special

Stuck in a tug-of-war over an armrest? Another TikToker recommends coughing at your arm before wiping it on the armrest.

Come on, man. That’s disgusting. We’re pirates and even we can’t stomach it.

👿 rating: 5 – Vladimir Putin started following you

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