Airplane Etiquette: Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies

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You may remember a time when plane travel was something you enjoyed. Airplane etiquette prevailed. People dressed appropriately. Passengers didn’t bite, claw and scratch their way through lines. Seats were spacious and comfortable. Flight attendants were friendly. Airlines served real food. There were skycaps to help you with your luggage, which arrived at your destination when you did.

The “good ole days” are long gone. Flying has become an ordeal. We worry if our flight will be on time, if we will make our connections, if we will ever see our luggage again, if our flight will be canceled or worse yet we worry that there will be one of those out-of-control unruly passengers on our flight.

About 4.2 million travelers are expected to fly during this holiday season. The majority will happily be looking forward to spending the holidays with family and friends. Sadly, a few of them will be in something akin to combat mode. You can’t control what others do, but you can control your own behavior. Let me suggest ten rules of flying etiquette that, when observed by all, could transform the travel experience.

Pack your patience and good manners. If things go awry, be ready to take it in stride.

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 snack ends up in their lap.

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

Don’t be a jack-in-the-box. That’s the passenger who hops up and down during the flight, crawling over everyone in their 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.

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 the last minute when you place your carry-on bag 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 with close connections disembark first? Few people honor that request.

Wear your mask as required. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. The airlines did not come up with the rule so don’t take out your frustration on the flight attendants.

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 destinations in a much better frame of mind—ready to enjoy the holidays.

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