Airplane etiquette has always been questionable, to say the least. Now in this day of masks, sanitizing, long wait times, cancellations and delays, airplane etiquette is more important than ever! As airlines continue to minimize comfort to maximize profits, passengers have started to look for ways to endure flights. Abandoning good manners should not be one of those ways!
It’s a little unfortunate that when the attendants run through the safety drill just before the plane takes off, they don’t include a “How to Behave During the Flight Guide.” Because if they did, it could improve the hours many of us spend in the air. Being encapsulated in a relatively small space with a large number of strangers, we should all observe a few rules of etiquette. However, sometimes it’s a little difficult to know what these are.
1 – Don’t be in too much of a hurry to board the plane. Remember that if you’re flying long-haul you’re going to be on the airplane for a long time and the novelty will wear off – that’s guaranteed. Therefore, don’t attempt to get on board until you’ve been called to do so by the airline staff. Don’t worry, you’re in the departure lounge, the plane won’t leave with you.
2 – Some passengers are nervous about flying and won’t want to engage in conversation. However, few people are brave enough to state outright that they don’t want to talk so use little signals to tell you this. One of these signals – and it’s perhaps not a particularly subtle one, but very effective nonetheless – is to place earphones in their ears and switch on their personal stereo system (iPod or MP3 player or whatever). This means “don’t talk to me.” Don’t take it personally, it could happen to anyone.
3 – Space is limited on a plane, therefore, take only what you need on with you. It’s amazing how very few people actually access the luggage they take on board with them during the flight. Keep your luggage to a minimum and when storing it in the overhead compartment, show consideration for what’s already been placed in there, i.e. don’t cram your bag in on top of something that looks as though it might get spoiled by the weight of your bag, make the necessary adjustments.
4 – Please don’t remove your shoes on the flight if you think your feet may give off a less than fragrant aroma. There’s little worse than having to spend seven hours breathing in air that’s distinctly reminiscent of a couple of pounds of strong Cheddar cheese.
5 – Personal grooming! Please! Wait until you arrive at your destination (or take care of it before getting to the airport) to do any personal grooming like nail cutting, tweezing, etc.
6 – Don’t hog the arm rest. Some passengers pay little consideration as to whether their fellow traveller would like, every now and then at least, to rest their arm on the arm rest. Leave the arm rest free every so often for your fellow passenger to use. A good rule to follow is middle seat passenger gets the arm rests.
7 – Be courteous to the attendants at all times. Once upon a time airline staff were envied for their job, as it was seen as glamorous and exciting. But then people started flying long-haul and experienced the effects of jet lag and nowadays you hear very few people saying they want to work for American Airlines when they grow up. Remember that the staff are there for your safety; serving you tea and coffee is a by-product. They will ensure that you arrive at your destination safe and sound. They therefore deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect.
8 – Don’t bring stinky food on board. Finish that tuna sandwich before boarding – no one wants to smell your stinky lunch for several hours.
9 – If you are listening to music, watching a movie or working, keep the volume down and headphones in.
10 – Reclining seats – why do airlines have them? The airlines already have us crunched into such a small space so why torture us more because a handful of passengers feel it’s okay to lay in the lap of the passenger behind them.
11 – Never joke about bombs or similar when on an airplane. Also, don’t get completely drunk and then attempt to open the emergency door because you need some “fresh air,” (as was reported on a recent flight somewhere in the UK), causing the pilot to have to make an emergency landing. Because if you do, not only will you upset your fellow passengers, but when you sober up, you’ll feel very silly and most likely be at the police station!
12 – Proper etiquette begins before you even get on the plane. Don’t hold up the security line. Have your documents ready before you get to the front of the line. Remove your belt, your laptop from your bag, etc. Be prepared. Be ready. When your belongings come out, collect them quickly and move to a spot where you’re not blocking the next person from retrieving their items.
13 – Be patient with everyone who is boarding the plane. You will run into mothers with small children, elderly people and so many others that could use your help and patience. It is always nice to offer a hand to help them.
14 – Be considerate of people with close connections when the flight has landed. How often have you heard a flight attendant on a late-arriving flight request that people with time to spare remain in their seats and let others with close connections disembark first?