The Etiquette for Holiday Flying

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FlyingHoliday season is here, and many of us will be traveling. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, take plenty of patience and tolerance with you, especially if you will be flying. The behavior of the flying public seems to have fallen to a new low. Having flown across the US last week on four different flights, I can testify first hand to the rude, inconsiderate actions of others.

Living in Savannah as I do, I can rarely, if ever, get a direct flight anywhere. There is always the plane change in Atlanta. It was on my last flight from Atlanta to Savannah, having started out in Phoenix, that I witnessed the astonishing behavior of a fellow passenger. I got lucky on that flight and was upgraded to first class. Must have been the late hour since the flights from Atlanta to Savannah and Hilton Head are always filled to capacity.

When I reached my seat and stopped to toss my handbag across to my window seat before heaving my carry-on into the overhead bin, I glanced back to see the woman behind me glaring at me. That was the first sign of a bumpy ride. I was moving as fast as I could and wanted to tell her that, but managed to keep those feelings to myself and give her an undeserved smile. After all, I am an etiquette expert and don’t want to put my reputation on the line.

The next problem occurred as I tried to squeeze into my seat. Remember, I am in first class where there is supposedly more room between rows. However the man in the row ahead of me on the aisle had pushed his seat all the way back so I couldn’t get in gracefully or fast enough to please the woman behind me. When I asked him to pull his seat upright so I could maneuver my way across, he gave me a harsh glare. He must have been related to the cranky woman behind me.

The man in front of me was extremely large. I don’t know, of course, if he paid full fare or not, but clearly he thought that he was somehow entitled to all the space around him. Before we took off, in fact as soon as we started to pull away from the gate, he pushed his seat all the way back again, much to the chagrin of the nice gentleman seated next to me. The inconsiderate man kept his seat back during take-off, flight and landing. Not only did this cause comfort issues for those of us behind him, but it also posed safety issues. For some reason, the flight attendant did not notice or didn’t care.

Happily, the flight was otherwise uneventful. Perhaps I should have called the actions of this passenger to the attention of the flight attendant, but for whatever reason. I chose not to.

You can’t do anything about the way other people behave, but you do have control over your actions. When you are flying this holiday season, be patient, be tolerant, be helpful, and be polite. And be observant of the rules regarding your safety and that of your fellow passengers. Try to observe the etiquette for holiday flying.

May your holiday travels be safe and pleasant (I hope I am not asking too much),

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 or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website,

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