Whether you travel for leisure, for business or personal reasons, chances are if you are traveling a great distance you will opt for air travel. When you do, it means you spend anywhere from a couple hours to the better part of a day in a new (enclosed!) space with a bunch of other people (strangers!) from all over the world (places you’ve never heard of!) and all walks of life.
As a frequent air traveler, I often encounter people who rarely fly. In fact, I meet people who have never even boarded an airplane. Sometimes these new travelers are unaware of airplane etiquette that seasoned travelers have usually picked up on while racking up their frequent flyer miles. For those who are just beginning their traveling adventures, here are 5 airplane etiquette tips to help ensure a pleasant flight for both you and your fellow passengers.
1. Know your personal space. And respect the space of your travel neighbors. Anything you carry on will have to be stored in an overhead bin or under the seat in front of you, so try not to take more than your fair share of space. If you are sitting in an aisle or window seat, be courteous to your middle seat neighbor and relinquish the armrests so they can have a little more room (you’ll appreciate the same courtesy the next time you get stuck in the middle!). If you think you might doze off during the flight, you may find that a Sleeper Scarf can help reduce those awkward moments when you wake up snuggling your neighbor’s shoulder.
2. Be polite to a chatty neighbor. Even the shortest flight can seem long if you feel pressured into a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Bring something to read, listen to, or work on, or pull out your Sleeper Scarf for a nap and apologetically excuse yourself from the conversation if you’re not in the mood to chat. If you’re the one doing the chatting, know it is fine to strike up small talk, but be mindful if someone is hinting that they want to be left alone. It’s probably nothing personal, your neighbor may just be looking for some peace and quiet.
3. Respect the flight attendant. Sometimes passenger issues, weather complications, or a hold-up on the runway delay a plane schedule. These decisions are neither the flight attendant nor the pilot’s fault, and getting frustrated doesn’t expedite the flight. When the flight attendant asks you to follow specific instructions, such as staying seated, or turning off your electronics during takeoff and landing, it is important to do as you are asked. The flight attendant is communicating the airline’s policy, not trying to give you a hard time. Finally, do your best to time your trips to the lavatory around the beverage deliveries so you aren’t wiggling around the flight attendant’s drink cart.
4. Mind your personal hygiene. This is never an easy topic, but remember that you are in a small space with a lot of people, so making yourself comfortable could make someone else uncomfortable if you go too far. For example, keep your shoes on. Everybody will smell your stinky feet. Nobody will thank you. Wear deodorant. Keep gum handy. Chewing gum also helps when your ears pop from elevation changes. You can share that little piece of information with a neighbor if they have stinky breath, too! Also, go light with perfume or lotion the day of your flight. To some, strong fragrances can be as offensive as body odor or bad breath.
5. Wait your turn to get off the plane. Jumping up quickly, climbing over other passengers’ laps and rushing into the aisle to get your bag first is probably not going to help you get off the plane any faster in the long run. If you’re worried about missing a connecting flight, talk to your flight attendant before you land and ask for assistance deplaning quickly. Everybody is anxious to get off the plane. Wait your turn.