Etiquette to Follow at the Airplane

Basic of Air Travel: Airplane Etiquette

From the minute you left home to head to the airport until you finally have a beverage on your tray, it probably feels like the fates have been conspiring against your trip goes as planned.

And it’s not over yet.  You are crammed into a long metal tube with a bunch of other people.  And some of them aren’t well mannered, nor do they place nice with others.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but clearly it does, so here’s a list of some basic airplane etiquette.  Before you start to criticize anyone else, make sure you aren’t guilty of some of these behaviors yourself.

15 Pet Peeves to Avoid Inflight

  1. Unless you are absolutely certain that you are odor-free, leave your shoes and socks on.  If you must remove your shoes, put them back on if you are going to walk around the cabin.
  2. Exercise good hygiene.  Without touching off a barrage of cultural issues, when you are going to be in cramped quarters with others, everyone needs to be sensitive to body odor — their own.  Most airlines have a policy regarding offensive odors, so if you are on the ground and find your olfactory senses assaulted, contact a Flight Attendant and ask for resolution.
  3. Be sensitive and aware when reclining your seat.  It is your “right” to recline your seat, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it.  I try to keep my seat upright during mealtime, and always check in the back of me before reclining it.
  4. When you stand up from your seat, refrain from grabbing the headrest of the seat in front of you.  This is usually an issue of unawareness, rather than outright disregard, but when you grab the seat and pull it back as you leverage yourself out of the seat, it can act as a catapult for the person sitting there minding their own business.
  5. Share the armrest.  There are times when WWIII seems like it’s going to break out over this issue when it’s really a basic math problem.  If an airplane leaves Miami with three seats on one side of the aircraft, and every seat full, how is it possible for three adults to share four armrests and still be comfortable?  There’s not an easy answer, and it’s one of those times when playing nice with one another pays off.  If you do get an armrest, however, make sure you don’t spill over into someone else’s space.  That’s a rule!
  6. Watch how loud you are talking.  This is both to protect your private conversation from the ears of others, and so that your constant chattering doesn’t annoy people around you.
  7. Certain personal behavior should be done in the privacy of your own home, and not in public.  That includes clipping nails, picking anything (zits, scabs, nose, or any other body part for that matter), shaving, trimming nose hairs, spitting, etc.
  8. Keep your eyes away from your neighbor’s movie, laptop screen, personal papers, magazine, etc.  I know you’re curious, and it’s hard not to pry, but just don’t.  And before you spread out your own stuff, make sure that you aren’t showing your divorce papers or business merger to the rest of the world.
  9. Keep your arms, feet, and personal items out of the aisle.  People will bump you or trip over you if you do.  And it won’t be their fault, so lose the aggrieved look.
  10. Don’t fly when you are sick, especially if you’re contagious.  At the very minimum, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  11. If someone needs to move by you, get out of your seat, and step into the aisle to allow them access.  Don’t make people climb over you.
  12. Make sure that you don’t inadvertently kick the seat in front of you, and make sure that you’re kids don’t either.  Once is not a big deal.  Twice will get you a look, and you should apologize.  Any more than that is likely to result in a Flight Attendant call.
  13. Watch the use of fragrance, both before the flight and reapplying mid-flight.  You may love the scent, but in a closed environment, it may be a lot stronger than you realize, causing aggravation to those who don’t share your appreciation of the scent, and pain to those who suffer from allergies or sinus problems.
  14. Wear headphones when playing games, listening to music, or watching a movie.  Most airlines actually require this, but even if they don’t there’s no reason why the rest of the plane needs to listen to your entertainment.
  15. Keep adult material out of sight.  It’s not polite to view inappropriate material in a public location.

Did I hit on one of your pet peeves?  Or did I forget one?  Is there something that absolutely makes your flight unbearable?  There’s a lot of room for you to sound off in the comments.

Don’t forget to check out our entire Basics of Air Travel series, covering the many aspects of your air travel experience.

  1. Checking in From Home
  2. Get to the Airport on Time
  3. Checking & Carrying on Luggage
  4. Getting Through Security – Planning
  5. Airport Security – Rules & Etiquette
  6. Getting to Your Departure Gate
  7. Boarding the Plane & Stowing Your Bags
  8. Turning Off Your Electronic Devices
  9. Safety Demonstration
  10. Beverage Service
  11. Airplane Etiquette
  12. Descent
  13. Landing & Deplaning
  14. Leaving the Airport
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