Category Archives: Travel Etiquette

Flying Etiquette for the Holiday Traveler

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Perhaps you remember a time when traveling by plane was something you looked forward to. Flying etiquette prevailed. People dressed in their “Sunday best”. Passengers didn’t bite, claw and scratch their way through lines. Seats were spacious and comfortable. You chose a window or aisle seat based on whether or not you wanted to check the landscape below, not in order to gain a few extra inches of leg room. Flight attendants were friendly. Airlines served real food. There were sky caps to help you with your luggage, which managed to arrive at your destination when you did.

I could continue reminiscing about the “good ole days”, but they are long gone. Flying today is an ordeal which most people dread. When I fly, I worry if my flight will be on time, if I will make my connections, if my luggage and I will arrive at the same time and place, if my seatmate will be an oversized person who  should have purchased two seats, or if I will get stuck on the tarmac for hours on end without food or water.

Over the next two weeks more than seven million people will be flying the not-so-friendly skies. There will be the usual mix of business and leisure travelers—most of whom will be in something akin to combat mode. You can’t control what others do, but you can manage your own behavior. Let me suggest nine rules of flying etiquette that, when observed by all, could transform the travel experience.

Don’t hog the overhead bin. Although you are allowed one carry-on plus a handbag or laptop bag, you should only put one of those in the overhead.

Middle seat gets the armrest. That seems fair since the people on either side can lean right or left for more room.

Be considerate when reclining your seat. Notice if the person behind you is using the tray table and alert them that you plan to recline so neither their laptop nor their snack ends up in their lap.

Resist the urge to chat. Everyone should acknowledge seatmates with a smile and a greeting. Once you do, you’re done. Leave your seatmate to fly in peace.

Try not to be a jack-in-the-box. That’s the passenger who hops up and down repeatedly during the flight and crawls over everyone in his path.

Control your kids. Noisy, whiny, loud children ruin the flight for everyone except the parents—or so it seems. Anyone who has ever had the child behind them kick their seat understands the urge to kill.

Leave smelly food in the airport. Seatmates’ noxious food is one of the top peeves of air travelers.

Move as quickly as you can through the security line. Be prepared to remove your shoes, take out your laptop and toiletries and shed your jacket or sweater. Don’t wait until it’s time to place your carry-on luggage on the conveyor belt.

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 in danger of missing their connection disembark first? Few people honor that request.

Good manners won’t make planes any less crowded, seats any more comfortable or security checks any less stressful; but they can help you and your fellow passengers arrive at your destination in a much better frame of mind—ready to go to work or enjoy the holidays.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

Flying Etiquette – It’s Time for a Few Tips

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With the holidays upon us, more than a few people will be taking to those formerly friendly skies to visit family and friends or perhaps to take a special vacation. Wherever they are headed, one thing is for sure—their air travel will have its share of challenges.

British Airways has unveiled an unofficial rulebook on flying etiquette in an effort to help their passengers handle some sticky in-flight issues. The airline surveyed 1,500 travelers in the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy to get their thoughts on etiquette in the air.

Given the diversity of countries and cultures, there were naturally conflicting opinions on the do’s and don’ts of mile high manners. The results are food for thought for those taking flight.

The airline tackled what it considered to be the four biggest areas of contention: Should you take off your shoes and socks in flight? Who owns the armrest? Should you engage in pillow talk with your seatmate? And what are the rules about waking a sleeping neighbor?

Shoes and socks on or off? Not surprisingly, travelers overwhelmingly agreed that removing your socks is unacceptable, but taking off your shoes is all right. The one group taking the opposite approach was the Italians. Apparently, taking off either is tantamount to undressing in flight. My perspective on this is that it’s fine to take off your shoes as long as your socks are clean. And no bare feet, no matter when you last washed them.

Who owns the rights to the armrest? There was general agreement that every flier should have at least one. The point of contention was the middle seat. Is that passenger entitled to one, two or none? American and British fliers seemed to want to claim both armrests; whereas the French, Germans and Italians said that he who asks first shall prevail. Now that hardly seems fair to me. The poor soul who is wedged in a middle seat ought to be given more consideration. Besides, I can never recall hearing anyone asking permission for an armrest. More often than not there is a silent battle between seatmates.

Pillow talk: is it okay to chit chat? There was general agreement that passengers should acknowledge each other with a smile and a quick greeting. After that US and UK fliers are not eager to engage in conversation and have their subtle ways of sending that message—like taking out a book or putting on their headset. Italians, being the friendly warm people that they are, enjoy a good in-flight conversation. Ignoring your seatmate entirely may cause you to miss out on a good connection and an interesting experience. I once sold copies of one of my books to a seatmate.

Should you wake a sleeping seatmate? You need to make a trip to the lavatory and the person between you and the aisle is asleep. What to do? This could well be my favorite. 80% of travelers say that it’s okay to wake your neighbor, but 40% say that you should only do it once per flight. I wonder if there was any consideration given to the time in flight. It seems to me one needs to be more flexible on this issue. However,if you find yourself making frequent trips to the restroom, book an aisle seat. And don’t overlook the etiquette of climbing over. Global etiquette dictates that you make a face-to-face exit. Try it; it’s not easy.

The fourth question begs a fifth: What to do about the seatmate who is snoring? Here is where the majority of people tended to be polite and said they would ignore those intermittent outbursts—all except the British who would not hesitate to give a chap a nudge.

There are indeed rules of flying etiquette to be observed when you take off for the holidays, it’s clear that not everyone can agree on what they should be. Perhaps that’s why there is so much turmoil in the air these days.

You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can manage your own manners. Showing as much consideration for your fellow passengers as you would like for them to show you could just possibly bring about a return of the friendly skies. Oh for the good ole days.

 

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness and enhance professional conduct in the workplace. She is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, sought-after speaker, trainer, author and newspaper columnist. She is the author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners.

Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to:

  • leave a comment
  • ask a question
  • learn more about her programs and products for businesses, corporations, associations, colleges and universities.

 

 

 

Ten Rules of Flying Etiquette for the Traveling World

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A young girl annoying the passenger in front.

The recent unfortunate scuffle on United Airlines involving a passenger who was “reaccommodated”–whatever that is—has brought the focus squarely back to the issue of air travel.

Perhaps you can still remember a time when traveling by plane was actually something you looked forward to unless, of course, you suffered from a fear of flying. People dressed up in their “Sunday best” to fly. Passengers didn’t bite, claw and scratch their way onto the plane. All seats were spacious and comfortable. You chose window or aisle based on whether or not you wanted to check the landscape below, not in order to gain extra leg room. Flight attendants were friendly and greeted passengers with a smile. The airlines served real food, and occasionally it was pretty good. There were skycaps to help you with your luggage which you never had to wrestle with on board the plane. It magically disappeared while you flew off in comfort. You never saw it again until you landed. What’s more, it was always waiting for you upon arrival.

I could go on and on reminiscing about the “good ole days”, but they are long gone and times have changed. Flying today is an ordeal which the majority of people dread. When I fly, I worry about whether my flight will be on time, if I will make my connections, if my luggage will get lost, if my seatmate will be one of those overweight people who clearly needs to have purchased two seats, or if I will get stuck on the tarmac for endless hours without food or drink. It used to be that I worried about crashing. That’s way down on my list now. I have too many other things on my mind.

Given that everyone involved in air travel today approaches it in something akin to combat mode, it seems worthwhile to ponder the rules of airplane etiquette and consider what would happen if people took the time to be kinder to and more respectful of others as they fly the formerly friendly skies.

To that end, let me suggest ten rules of flying etiquette that, when observed by all, could transform the air travel experience.

Respect the space of others. The airlines have rules in place to limit the number of bags you can carry on, but some passengers manage to get around them. Don’t take on a bag that consumes all the room in the overhead compartment or one that doesn’t quite fit under the seat in front of you, but spills into your seatmate’s space.

Middle seat gets the armrest. That seems only fair since the people on either side can lean right or left for more room. The armrests are certainly not big enough to accommodate one arm let alone two.

Be considerate when you recline your seat. Note whether the person behind you is using the tray table. Alert people when you plan to recline so neither their laptop nor their snack ends up in their lap. Rarely does anyone follow this rule.

Don’t be a Chatty Cathy. I believe that everyone should acknowledge seatmates with a smile and a greeting. Once you do that you will get a feel for the other person’s mood. Some people like to fly in silence. Let them. If that person is you, you can always whip out a book or your work paraphernalia once you have exchanged pleasantries.

Try not to be a jack-in-the–box. You know, the passenger who gets up and down forty times during the flight and has to crawl over other passengers. If you know you are one of those people who can’t get through a flight without using the lavatory, get an aisle seat.

Avoid alcohol during the flight. Alcohol and altitude do not mix. You don’t want to be the person who made headline news because of your behavior in-flight.

Control your kids. That is a good idea, no matter where you are, but children who are out of control on an airplane can ruin the flight for everyone. Make sure they keep their voices low and their arms and legs in check. Anyone who has ever had the child behind them kick their seat knows the urge to kill.

Keep the space around you odor free. That means bathe before you fly and make sure your clothes are clean and fresh. Anyone had that experience? But don’t douse yourself in perfume. That can be as unpleasant as poor hygiene.

Pay attention to how security works. If you fly often, you should be prepared to remove your shoes, take out your laptop and toiletries and shed your jacket or sweater. Don’t wait until you are ready to place your carry-on luggage on the security belt to attend to all this. If you are moving more slowly than others in line while you disrobe, let them go ahead of you.

Be considerate of people with close connections when the flight has landed. How many times have you heard a flight attendant request that people with time to spare remain in their seats and let others get off first? Few people ever honor that request.

Good manners won’t make planes any less crowded, seats any more comfortable or security checks any less stressful; but they could help you and your fellow passengers arrive at your destinations in a much better frame of mind—ready to go to work or enjoy your vacation. When you follow these rules, others make take notice and follow suit. We can always hope.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, sought-after speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products. More business etiquette information is available in her best-selling books Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners. Invite Lydia to speak at your next conference or meeting.

 

Ouch! Flying Is Painful!

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Carry-on luggage in overhead storage compartment on commercial airplane.

Carry-on luggage in overhead storage compartment on commercial airplane.

When was the last time you flew? I just returned from a cross-country trip from Savannah to Spokane where I presented a four-hour seminar to an engaged and engaging audience of paraeducators. I flew diagonally across the United States.

To get to Spokane from Savannah is a challenge at best. You have to change planes twice–no way around it. Or I couldn’t find one. I changed planes in Atlanta and again in Salt Lake City. In the course of three days, I flew through six time zones on six different planes. That may seem like the hard part, but it wasn’t. The hard part was surviving the thoughtlessness of my fellow passengers.

I am sure many of you can relate to my experience. Given that I was graced with long legs, I prefer to have an aisle seat. This particular choice has its advantages and disadvantages. Once in the air you can stretch out your legs, assuming that the flight attendants are not coming through the itty-bitty aisle with their food and beverage carts.  Another advantage is that you have at least one armrest that is all yours.

Here’s the disadvantage. You expose one side of your body per flight to attack from passengers who board after you. You know what I am talking about, don’t you, fellow aisle-seaters? There are more than a few people who board looking like they are going on a month-long camping trip. They have suitcases, backpacks, purses and other paraphernalia that they wield like weapons.  Therefore compelling me to say, “Ouch, flying is painful.” After a week in recovery my arms are still bruised from all the hits I took during six boardings.

I try to protect myself and keep arms and elbows out of reach. Nothing works. Some of those bags and especially those backpacks can cover a large area and land a strong blow. The folks who are lugging them on board are completely oblivious to the pain they are inflicting on the aisle-seaters. Okay, I want to think that they are oblivious. Would anyone knowingly be so violent to a stranger?

I have two solutions: one that I can control; one that I cannot.

Here’s what I can control. I can protect my arms by keeping them close. I can switch sides of the aisle on connecting flights so I level the bruising.

Here is what I suggest to the airlines. When the flight attendant is reminding people to take their seat as quickly as possible to allow other passengers to move through the aisle in order to have an “on-time ” departure (what is that?), the attendant could recommend that people be mindful of the pain their bags might be inflicting on those they pass.

I know that is a dream.  People rarely, if ever, listen to or follow the requests of the crew.

On second thought, maybe those of us on the aisle could carry signs that say, “Please be careful with your carry on. Don’t hurt me.”

Ouch, flying is painful…

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com

Travel Tips for The Tipping Traveler

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HousekeeperEarlier this week A Woman’s Nation (AWN), together with Marriott International announced that Marriott International will be the first partner in AWN’s The Envelope Please™ initiative. The plan is to leave clearly marked gratuity envelopes in guest rooms each day to remind people that some hard-working person, who probably doesn’t get paid very much, cleaned their room.

For the most part, these room attendants go unnoticed. Hotel guests may never encounter or even lay eyes on the housekeeper assigned to clean their room. For that reason, these dedicated souls are often overlooked when it comes to tipping.

As one who travels often to offer my programs on business etiquette to individuals and organizations, I try to be thoughtful and aware of those who work to make my days and nights away from home more pleasant.

Tipping can be challenging and confusing. The first thing for people to do when they are on the road or in the air is to have a sufficient number of one-dollar bills to handle the tipping process. I check that before I leave home—it is on my traveling and packing to-do list. Then I keep an eye on how the flow is going. If I am running low, I get change for larger bills in a gift shop or at the hotel desk.

If my system fails me, as it sometimes does in spite of the best intentions, I get the name of the bellman or other service individual. When I have the correct change, I leave my tip in an envelope with the person’s name on it at the front desk.

The next thing to do is to be clear on how much and whom to tip along the way. For that reason I have compiled a short list of those people. Keep in mind that in upscale environments and urban areas, tip at the higher level.

Let’s start with the housekeeper. I like to leave the tip, given that an envelope is not already provided by the hotel, on the bed or on the bathroom counter with a note addressed to the housekeeper saying, “Thank you for cleaning my room.” Occasionally there is a card in the room with the attendant’s name on it so I can personalize my message. I prefer to do this each day since the same person may not be cleaning my room every time.

How much should you tip the housekeeper? The amount may vary depending on your length of stay. Generally speaking, you should tip in the $2-$3 range per day. When you follow this practice, you might sleep better and so will the housekeeper who just made a few extra dollars.

Other people to consider tipping and the amounts are:

The doorman who takes your bags from the curb to the lobby – $1-$2 per bag

The bellman who takes your bags from the lobby to your room – $1-$2 per bag (If he offers to get you ice, he deserves another dollar or two.)

The concierge who goes out of the way to provide extra help or special service – $10

Room service – the tip is usually already added to your bill. If not, 15% of the total is standard. (You can always tip more if you are inclined.)

Others to tip during your travels are the skycap who checks your bags, the taxi driver who delivers you to and from the airport. The skycap gets the usual $1-$2 per bag. The standard for taxi drivers is 10-15% of the fare.

Now you know why I say to keep lots of one-dollar bills in your pocket at all times. If you feel that all you do on your travels is reach for your wallet day and night, you might be right; but these hard-working people who make your trip more pleasant deserve a show of gratitude.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

So Who Does Get the Armrest?

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I just came across a delightful article about airplane etiquette, or perhaps the lack of it, written by Scott McCartney for the Wall Street Journal.  His research and comments struck a major chord with me as someone who finds herself in the air more than on the ground. Anyone who flies and finds himself in economy class has been subjected to all sorts of indignities and inconveniences.

As the seats get smaller and the people get larger, the traveling public is constantly battling for space whether it is for the armrest, legroom or breathing space.  McCartney suggests that as airlines cut back on amenities or charge fees for former perks while pushing the seats closer and closer together, they are to blame for the decline of civility among passengers.

Even more interesting to me are the differing opinions on what is acceptable behavior, what is tolerable at 30,000 feet and what is not.

  1. Should you take possession of the armrests when you are in the middle seat?
  2. Should you push your seat all the way back without considering the person behind you?
  3. Should you bring messy, smelly food on board?
  4. Should you stand to let a fellow passenger out?
  5. If you are the window seat passenger, how many “breaks” do you get?
  6. What is the correct way to wake a sleeping passenger?
  7. How loud should your headset be?

Here is my pet peeve.  When the plane is late and there are passengers on board with tight connections to their next flight, do you really need to remain in your seat until those people get off?  I rarely see people showing this courtesy.

Flying is no longer for the faint of heart but one thing to keep in mind is that while you have no control over the behavior of others, you can take charge of your own.

I once heard a pilot in his initial announcement remind the passengers that for the next few hours we should consider ourselves one big family.  I don’t think he had “family feud” in mind.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

When You Wear The Company Logo

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It was the last leg of a long journey home from my most recent trip to Bangalore where I have been offering seminars and individual coaching sessions on global etiquette to an international client. After almost 30 hours en route, I was exhausted.  As I boarded my final flight for Savannah, the mere thought of heaving my weighty carry-on bag, which now included not one laptop, but two, was almost more than I could bear.

I travel enough to have become acutely aware of the decline in flying etiquette, especially when it comes to helping others trying to get their luggage in the overhead bins.  It is extremely rare that anyone makes a move to help a fellow passenger.  My expectations of courtesy whenever I fly are beyond low.

Almost before I had stopped at my assigned seat, a male voice behind me said, “May I help you with that?”  The next thing I knew, a pleasant young man with a big smile had taken the bag from my hand and placed it over my head.  When the plane landed and we came to a stop at the gate, he was out of his seat in a flash, getting my bag down before reaching back for his.

I noticed several things about this young man.  He was energetic, friendly, outgoing, and courteous; and he was wearing a shirt that bore the company logo for Gulfstream, the Savannah-based manufacturer of corporate jets.  As I thanked him once more, I couldn’t help but add, “You represent Gulfstream well.”

This gentleman, with manners to prove it, gave a powerful positive personal impression of himself.  In addition he gave a powerful positive impression of Gulfstream.  His actions spoke to the quality of the people whom Gulfstream employs.

As an individual, you might think of that the next time you are the one wearing the company logo. As the organization, you might think of that when handing out the attire that bears the company logo.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.