Skip to Content

20 Unwritten Rules for Frequent Flyers

rules for frequent flyersYears ago, flying was a luxury. Today, however, flying is more of a nightmare than a luxury. Getting through security and plane boarding sometimes looks and feels like cattle herding. For me, I often decide to drive if I can make the drive in under 8 hours. The required check-in time and connections will sometimes take me longer than the drive so why spend the extra money.

Unfortunately there are times that driving isn’t an option so I try to keep these unwritten rules in mind each time I fly. I’m amazed by the number of people that fly that have no idea of how to behave to make their own trip easier or better.

Most people get it. But, there is definitely many that don’t, You know the ones – the nail-clipping, baby-cussing, pajama-wearing, full-bottle-of-water-in-the-TSA-line-carrying people.

Look around on your next flight and you’re sure to spot one, or two or three or more. I’m sure on your last flight you had at least one guy boarding the plan clobbering people with his backpack as he walked down the aisle, or someone unwrapping a hot fish sandwich, and someone ringing the flight attendant call button before the doors are even closed! 

rules for frequent flyers

1 – Don’t get upset if the TSA agents are rude to you and more importantly – Don’t be rude to the TSA agents

Think about what these people deal with. Despite TSA agents repeating themselves on a near constant loop, there are still those of you who don’t put your laptop in a separate bin or who act surprised they have to take their shoes off. Never mind those that don’t empty their pockets going through the scanner or don’t have a boarding pass when they get to front of the line.

2 – Never ask to skip someone in the security line.

It’s amazing how much better the airport experience is if you’re ON TIME! 

3 – Don’t leave 5 bins of your personal belongings on the conveyer belt

It’s not the responsibility of the person behind you to push your belongs through. Pay attention! 

rules for frequent flyers

4 – If you can’t lift your own bag, it isn’t a carry-on.

Check that thing! If you can’t physically lift your carry-on into the overhead compartment you have no business carrying it on! If you’re wearing a backpack – TAKE IT OFF and carry it so you don’t slap everyone in the head if you turn while walking down the aisle.

5 – Don’t be rude to the flight attendants

Refer to Rule #1 – Don’t be rude to TSA agentsThink about what these people deal with. I often see flight attendants being treated as servants. Really people! These people are charged with making sure you get where you are going, keeping order, enforcing and explaining safety rules and regulations. Sadly they also have to serve you drinks and snacks. They have to keep on smiling even when they would rather slap the guy in row 10.

rules for frequent flyers

Just because you can drink alcohol at any time, served politely by flight attendants, doesn’t mean you should. Remain charming to the flight attendants and they will most likely booze you up. But remember your bloody mary does double duty at high altitude, and your smiling flight attendant won’t take your tipsy crap.

6 – Choose your bring along food carefully!

Think about all the people sitting around you for the next several hours and the smell of your food – especially if it’s from a fast-food joint that has a identifiable odor. There’s nothing more atrocious than the trapped odors of grease and meat on a plane. Oh wait, Tuna Fish! Please don’t!

7 – NEVER ask a stranger to watch your stuff 

If you have to go to the restroom or grab a cup of coffee before boarding, take your stuff with you. Have you not heard the announcement continually made over every airport loud speaker? Don’t watch other people’s stuff is basically what it says. Why would you ask a stranger to be responsible for your personal belongings?

8 – Don’t be a boarding lane hoarder

Planes board in a certain order by group numbers/names. If you are in Group 6 why are you standing in the way of people that are in Group 1. Sit down. Wait your turn. Your behavior is creating more chaos for an already chaotic process.

9 – Don’t get mad if someone in your boarding group cuts in front of you during boarding. 

The boarding process for some reason continues to be chaotic. Just go with it. We are all going to get where we’re going at the same time! 

rules for frequent flyers

10 – Don’t recline in economy

Listen, if you want to lay down when you fly – pay for a first class ticket.  Chances are the guy behind you may have a drink on his tray, or a laptop, or – have longer legs than you do. Have some consideration for other people’s personal space. 

11 – Don’t be a first class ass

This one is a huge pet peeve of mine. If you are fortunate enough to fly class (I do it occasionally only because of racked up miles) do you think you can wait for the lower class people to board before demanding a cocktail. Flying First Class – Well, good for you! Have some consideration for those that aren’t. You get to board first but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thoughtful of all of us poor people that have to wait. No need to order that Bloody Mary the minute you sit down. Have you noticed that the flight attendant has to stop the rest of us from boarding so she/he can deliver your cocktail? Check your entitled attitude with your luggage please.

12 – You ARE allowed to say something to a parent if their kid is being obnoxious

You are NOT allowed to be upset or complain about a screaming baby. A baby is just a baby and it’s parents are most likely already stressed because it’s crying. But if parents don’t intervene when their  five-year-old goes to town kicking your seat, those parents shouldn’t be offended when you turn around and tell them and their kid about it.

13 – Don’t rush to the front and cut off people when you’re getting off the plane

When the seatbelt sign turns off, there’s always a handful of fools from the back of the plane attempting to charge their way to the exit. WAIT YOUR TURN – EVERYONE GETS OFF IN ORDER. The only exception to this would be if you have been delayed and could possibly miss your connection – then you politely ask to go first – everyone who flies often will let you.

14 – Keep your feet (and your hands) to yourself 

There are thousands of people who have an issue with other people’s feet. So if you remove your shoes, keep your feet to yourself and out of everyone else’s view.

When you walk down the aisle either boarding or in-flight on the way to the restroom, don’t grab the back of every seat when you pass. Other passengers don’t deserve to be yanked around by you. 

15 – Get out of my seat

I specifically book window seats on all of my flights. I do it for a reason. I have long legs and there is a bit more leg room along the side of the seat in front of you that you can use without bothering the person in front of you. I suffer from backaches and I can lean to the side against the window when sitting up straight starts to bother my back. I don’t use restrooms on planes. I flew from NY to Ireland without ever using the restroom. This means I don’t want to have to get up each time a seat mate wants to go to the restroom. So – when I get to my seat and you are in my window seat and tell me it doesn’t matter – yes it does matter. Get out of my seat.

16 – Do your grooming at home

The confined area of a plane is not the place to clip your nails, brush/floss your teeth, apply deodorant or do any other grooming practice that should be done in your own home or in the restroom.

17 – Don’t be an armrest hog

Common courtesy should tell the window and aisle seats to give the middle seater a break. Let them have the armrests for pete’s sake!

18 – Clean up your own mess

Don’t throw your trash on the floor. Don’t fill the seat pocket with all your trash. Don’t leave your trash on the seat when you exit the plane. What is wrong with you people?

19 – Don’t be a half stander

When a seat mate needs to get out of the row, half standing forces them to awkwardly crawl their way past your legs, trying as hard as possible not to touch your body. Stand up like a decent person and step out into the aisle.

20 – Back off the baggage claim belt

Common courtesy has you leave about 3 feet of space between you and baggage carousel so that if another passenger sees their bag, they can swoop in and grab it. Don’t be the jerk who moves into that 3 feet of space and takes up residence. If your bag is late, blocking everyone else from the baggage carousel will not make it magically reappear.

rules for frequent flyers


Please Share and Follow