Let’s face it, no matter how often some people fly, airplane etiquette is never assumed! Perhaps common courtesy gets lost in the hustle and bustle of air travel, washed away by flight delays, long lines, expensive baggage fees, and crammed spaces. Perhaps some travelers just don’t understand the unspoken rules when it comes to flying, or perhaps they just don’t care. Either way, we could all use a quick refresher course when it comes to proper airplane etiquette. (Please Note: For those of you who have flown shirtless, shoeless or clipped your toenails mid-flight, please refer to our novice course called “Airplane Etiquette for Dummies” before commencing 101.)
Empty your pockets and remove those shoes!
Before you can even board a plane, you have to clear security first. Lines at these checkpoints can sometimes be very long and move slowly. To help speed up the process, prepare your items while you wait in line. Empty your pockets, remove any large jewelry, take off your belt, pull out your laptops, put away smaller electronics, remove any liquids and please don’t hog all the bins. As soon as your bag is scanned, collect your items quickly and move out of the way so others behind you can retrieve their belongings. Move to the side or nearest seat to put on your shoes, belts, and jewelry and allow the line to keep flowing.
Don’t crowd the boarding area!
With limited overhead space and expensive baggage fees, passengers are now crowding the boarding areas hours in advance just to ensure a safe place for their carry-on. Unfortunately this can slow down the boarding process and cause flight delays. Those who are booked in priority boarding zones or perhaps need special assistance may not be able to get through the crowd in order to board. So please…relax and don’t line up an hour ahead of your flight! Everyone will get a seat and your bags will make it onboard! (See the term Gate Lice)
Don’t hog the overhead.
Gone are the days when everyone used to check his or her luggage and board the plane bag free. In order to avoid baggage fees, the majority of travelers flying today board the aircraft with one carry-on bag and one personal size bag (Ex: purse, laptop case, or duffel bag). In order to share the space, the general rule is place one carry-on item in the overhead, and the smaller bag under your seat. If passengers continue to abuse this rule and hog the overhead space, airlines will have no choice but to charge passengers for the number of carrying-on items they bring onboard the aircraft. (Airlines like Frontier, Spirit, Ryanair already charge carry-on fees)
Take your seat and step out of aisle.
Once on the plane, many people make the mistake of standing in the aisle too long and blocking those behind them from boarding. As soon as you locate your seat, place your bag in the overhead and take your seat. This is not the time to stand there and dig through your bag for headphones, magazines or computers. Organize these items in a smaller bag prior to boarding and store under your seat. If you forgot something in the overhead, wait until the rest of the passengers have boarded the plane, then quickly stand up to retrieve your items. Do not leave your seat during taxi and takeoff. If you need something, please wait until the plane safely reaches 10,000 feet after takeoff. (Listen for a double chime after takeoff. This notifies the flight crew that the plane has safely reached 10,000 ft.)
Turn off your portable electronic.
If the cabin door is closed and your flight attendants make an announcement, it’s time to turn off your electronic devices! Each country has a different set of rules when it comes to the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing, so listen carefully to pre-flight announcements. Remember, the flight attendants didn’t create these rules so don’t be rude if they ask you to turn off your phone. Nobody wants to wait to depart the gate because you’re too busy talking on your phone or posting selfies on Instagram.
Share the armrest.
There is no denying that airplanes are sometimes small and cramped. Even though you may feel squished in your seat, you still need to share the space. The general rule of thumb is the person who is stuck in middle seat gets both middle armrests. Passengers sitting in the aisle or window seat can use the armrest on their outside. Sitting in the middle seat is never fun, so at least allow that person the small luxury of some arm space.
Respect the lavatory.
Sometimes there is only a short opportunity to use the lavatory during flight and a lot of people waiting to do so. In order to keep the line moving and avoid passengers waiting in the aisles, use the restroom as quickly as possible. If you need to fix your makeup, try and do so at your seat if appropriate. Most importantly, don’t leave a huge mess! Flush the toilet, pick up your tissues and use common courtesy. Flight attendants are busy enough, and shouldn’t have to clean the lavatory areas for passengers. Finally, if you need to use the lavatory, please don’t wait until the last minute during final descent. Pilots are not allowed to land while passengers are in the lavatory and will therefore have to do a go-around causing huge delays and angry passengers.
Stay clear of the service cart.
Flight attendants are working hard to keep passengers happy. Try to avoid getting in their way. Try not to get up and down a million times during flight, especially if flight attendants are in the middle of their food/drink service. A fully loaded drink cart can weigh up to 300lbs and can be hard to maneuver during a regular flight, let alone a bumpy one. So don’t expect them to move every time you get up to use the lavatory. Flight attendants will do their best to keep the isle clear, but be prepared to wait behind the cart until their service is finished.
Recline those seats carefully!
Legroom on an airplane is crammed enough, so adding a reclined seat to the mix can definitely make things seem even tighter. That being said, you do have the right to recline your seat and you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so. The key is to be respectful of those behind you. Recline your seat slowly and try to avoid reclining during times when meals are being served. Nobody wants to wear their meal on their lap, so don’t slam seats back.
Keep the chitchat to a minimum
Airplanes are a great place to meet new and interesting people, but unfortunately not everyone wants to make new friends. Respect those who don’t want to talk or hear your life story. If the passenger beside you is wearing headphones, reading a book or has their eyes closed, chances are they don’t want to talk. When you sit down, smile and say hi to your seatmate. This creates a friendly environment for the person next to you and may even open up the opportunity to talk when appropriate.
Relax and don’t rush!
We are all guilty of jumping up to grab our bags as soon as the plane reaches the gate. But the reality is, nobody is moving until the main cabin door is opened. There are many occasions when the ground crew isn’t even at the gate, and the main cabin door doesn’t get opened for 10+ minutes. So relax and don’t push! There is no need to rush the door upon arrival! Even if you’re flight is delayed and you might miss a connection, please don’t push past everyone and assume you’re the only person with a connection to make!! There is nothing worse then someone behind you not letting you step out into the aisle and pushing past to exit first. We all want to get off the plane equally as bad, so focus on gathering your belongings and exiting in an orderly fashion.
Enjoy the ride!
There will always be flight delays, lost bags, cancelled flights, rude passengers, screaming kids, and unhappy crewmembers. These situations are out of our control and come with air travel. The best thing to do is make an effort to be respectful and patient while traveling. By following these simply airplane etiquette tips, the long lines, travel delays and cancelled flights might seem less irritating. If nothing else, you will travel with pride knowing that you weren’t part of the problem and didn’t lose all sense of dignity in the hustle of airport life.
What bad manners have you noticed when flying? Drunk passengers, stinky food, or loud talkers? Share your airplane etiquette tips below in the comment section! We’d love to hear from you!