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I'm about to go on a 12 hours flight, so I thought it could be nice to have some games ready on my laptop.

But it's not really fun playing some of those with the built in track pad.

How much of a douche will I be if I bring a mouse (wired) with me?

I only have a clicky mouse and am wondering how much does it really noticeable over the static loudness of air travel. (I know I would probably hate the guy next to me using that if it's noticeable)

Bonus Question: Does classes make a difference? (i.e. People in Business class are more likely to be annoyed)

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    The answer is a matter of opinion that depends on the attitude and reaction of the hearer. Opinions are off-topic here, and I voted to close. Worth noting, however, that if you were seated next to me and playing games with a clicky mouse, I would be very annoyed. Nov 27 '21 at 16:19
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    If you're flying economy class, it's unlikely that you'd have enough room to use both a laptop and a mouse. Nov 27 '21 at 16:30
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    Doesn't your own admission answer the question? "I know I would probably hate the guy next to me using that if it's noticeable". You could pick some games that are not so mouse-action dependent (and don't beep or boom, squeak, explode etc). It's not just the mouse but your whole body language, in very close proximity to others. Nov 27 '21 at 17:30
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    It probably depends a lot whether it’s a daytime flight (e.g. Europe to US, where many people will be using IFE) or a night-time one where people are a lot more quiet and trying to sleep and how noisy you are (not only buttons but also moving the mouse around). My guess is that if you are concerned enough to ask, then it will bother your co-passengers.
    – jcaron
    Nov 27 '21 at 21:09
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    Twelve hours is long enough the lights will eventually go off. As long as you don't have your screen on when the lights are off, whatever (to me). It's a noisy space. Nov 28 '21 at 16:11
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It is annoying, I recently annoyed the hell out of a fellow passenger, he was kind enough to request to change his seat in a polite way and that's when I noticed. I was totally unaware of the fact that I was annoying him at first, and I wasn't playing games, which I assume would have generated more clicks.

I am no fan of trackpads and I have a small mouse that I use on top of my laptop (next to the trackpad) due to the small space of the tray at economy class, this little mouse have very loud clicks.

After the flight I have googled "quiet mouse" and I found a few choices of mice designed for this specific case -- to avoid bothering others. I haven't picked up one yet, so I cannot recommend a specific model.

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    I have the Logitech M330 silent plus that I use for meetings and it is amazing. Would recommend.
    – stanri
    Nov 28 '21 at 11:57
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    @stanri my roommate was so annoyed with my own mouse he went and bought me a M330. It's a lifesaver, and a pleasure to work with. Mind you, it'd still be audible, but a lot less annoying than an ordinary mouse, I imagine. Nov 28 '21 at 16:13
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    How do you know it was the mouse specifically that was annoying him? Nov 28 '21 at 19:11
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    @AzorAhai-him- by talking. Nov 29 '21 at 5:25
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    Another point that I do not find mentioned: clicking can be annoying in itself, but so can the gestures themselves. Some people have this tendency to lift hier mouse when they are moving it, and that leads to annoying "smacks" on the surface (e.g. table). So besides buying a quiet mouse, it's also a good idea to just be aware of how you are using that mouse. Nov 29 '21 at 16:29
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While as others have rightly pointed out it may depend on your hardware and your neighbors, I think it's also worth noting it will depend on the game.

If you're playing a high-intensity first-person shooter and hammering the mouse buttons (or indeed the keyboard, and moving the mouse with high intensity) then you're more likely to be a nuisance to those around you than if you're using the same hardware to play correspondence chess.

In either case, the clicks and taps you produce will be of comparable volume to other socially-acceptable behavior associated with surviving comfortably on a flight, but those other sources of noise are generally sporadic (and the acceptable threshold will vary between phases of the flight depending on whether meals are being served or the lights are dimmed for sleeping). It is the patterns in your clicking established by the game that are most likely to transform the clicks into an annoyance.

If in any doubt, your immediate neighbors will almost certainly be happier if you ask if they mind first or invite them to tell you if you're disturbing them.

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    This: "If in any doubt, your immediate neighbors will almost certainly be happier if you ask if they mind first or invite them to tell you if you're disturbing them." Let your seat mates know that it's OK to tell you if you're being obnoxious! A) They'll probably give you more leeway because you were polite about it, and B) You'll know when to stop. Be prepared with a much less clickey alternative if someone does ask you to stop.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 30 '21 at 14:55
  • >> ... playing a high-intensity first-person shooter. Or Minecraft.
    – mcalex
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:40
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That depends on the plane, the neighbors and the mouse. Some ideas:

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How much of a douche will I be if I bring a mouse (wired) with me?

Not at all a douche. Don't sweat it.

Laptops have been commonplace on flights for 20-30 years. The noise of a keyboard or mouse is very low, even for the person right next to you, and is accepted as being a normal part of mass-transit transportation in the same way as the noise of turning pages on a book or magazine. Unless you're playing a game which requires you to mash buttons very fast for a long period (like 1980s sports games), this just isn't an issue.

What you do need if you're playing games is a headset with minimal leakage. That's noise which no-one wants to hear. Ideally of course play with sound off.

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    Laptops have been commonplace on flights for a long time, but I don't think that the use of an external mouse is nearly so common. I don't travel that much, so my experience probably isn't worth much, but I don't remember ever seeing it.
    – LSpice
    Nov 28 '21 at 23:27
  • @LSpice It's less common to use an external mouse, sure, but that's from a convenience point of view with finding a smooth enough mousing surface and general elbow room. It's not about the noise created by a mouse click.
    – Graham
    Nov 29 '21 at 7:30
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    I highly disagree, mouse clicks can be very loud and if constant (e.g. in a MOBA or FPS game), not only annoy your immediate neighbor, but your whole surroundings.
    – kopaka
    Nov 30 '21 at 11:08
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Frame Challenge: you won't have room for your mouse.

While not all airplane tray tables are the same size, they are generally about 16" wide. The most compact gaming laptops are still about 12.5" wide, with the next biggest size being around 14" wide. Now, unless you choose to bring a trackball mouse as recommended by manassehkatz (which aren't exactly ideal for gaming either), you won't be able to fit your mouse in that 2-4" gap.

Also, if you choose to go this path of gaming on a plane, make sure your games and laptop are fully patched and configured to work without an Internet connection. Internet on a plane is slow both in ping and throughput, expensive and unreliable, so you're better off not relying on it if you can help it. And be on the lookout for turbulence, which may risk throwing your laptop in the air if you're not careful.

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    Ever seen people use their leg as a mousepad? It works.
    – Willeke
    Nov 30 '21 at 9:07
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I wouldn't be concerned about the noise at all.

However, I'd highly recommend a trackball instead of a mouse.

Trackballs are a lot less common these days than mice. But in addition to being, IMHO, far better for your hand & wrist, they don't take extra space the way a mouse does. That isn't a big deal with a regular desk. It is a huge deal when you are using the extremely limited space of an airplane seat.

For those who are not familiar with a trackball, in a sense they are like an upside-down mouse, where you move the ball instead of the whole contraption. Except that mice haven't had a physical ball in many years. I prefer the Logitech M570 but there are other models available from Logitech, Kensington and other companies.

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  • An injury forced me to use one of those against my chest at work for two weeks. Bonus, the buttons were also very quiet.
    – WGroleau
    Nov 30 '21 at 7:26
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Assuming you mean action competition-type games,

the answer is obviously "Of course that's annoying and you can't do it."

Note too that you can't, anyway, really have on a large bright laptop (say, to watch a movie) during sleep periods, unless you're a 'not nice person'.

(You mention Biz/First. You can do what you want in 1st as there's plenty of room/privacy, nobody will hear or see. Re business class, it varies a lot.)

Sure, you can sit there and quietly play Rail Tycoon or the like.

But you can't "game" in the sense of "The games played by Korean professional teams!" on an airplane, it's just silly. Of course not.

Note that the same applies to people who work on laptops (in economy). Sure, you can sit there and read some documents, etc. But anyone who furiously types for hours (in economy) is a 'not nice person'.

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