Just Plane Manners


With people sharing such confined spaces, attention to etiquette is key to a good in-flight experience.
With people sharing such confined spaces, attention to etiquette is key to a good in-flight experience.

Sometimes it seems like common courtesy doesn’t exist anymore, particularly on airplanes. Generally speaking things don’t escalate to violence, but occasionally they do, as it did in March when women had a fist fight on a flight over noise from a boom box. People may really bother you, but before you say anything, make sure you’re a good airplane citizen yourself. Here are some “rules” you should follow, and maybe others will follow your good example

Start the flight out right and don’t be an overhead compartment hog. You may not want anything at your feet, but no one else does either. Put your smaller bag at your feet and put your coat on top of the bag in the overhead bin. There isn’t enough room for everyone, but try to share.

Please keep your shoes on your feet. Seems weird that people don’t realize that their sweaty feet stink. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen international passengers go into a bathroom with bare or stocking feet. I guess it is nice that they mopped the floor for us, but then they track the bathroom dirt back down the aisle.

Share the armrests if you have an aisle or window seat. No one wants the middle seat. They can’t lean against the window and they can’t get up easily. Share the wealth and be magnanimous and let them have the armrest.

Consider not reclining your seat. You don’t like it if the person in front of you suddenly throws his seat back. If you do recline your seat, try to give some warning to the person in back of you, and consider reclining only partially. A friendly little warning at least gives someone a chance to pick up his beverage before it’s thrust into his lap.

Get up at convenient times for flight attendants and your seatmates. If you notice your seatmate settling in for a snooze, or getting ready to set up his computer, use the facilities then. It makes it easier for everyone. If the flight attendants have a cart in the aisle – wait. The flight attendant may or may not move for you and you don’t want to get stuck in the aisle. Don’t even think about trying to get up before food trays have been collected.

Keep your kids corralled. Most of us think our children are both adorable and entertaining, but not everyone shares your opinion. Make sure they aren’t constantly looking over their seat back, or even worse, hanging over the seat in front of them. Try to keep their feet in check. Having your seat back banged over and over is not fun. If you child acts like a child (almost all of them do), be apologetic and do your best to control the situation. I once spent most of a flight in the lavatory when my toddler was screaming because her ears were clogged. It should go without saying – NEVER CHANGE A DIAPER ON YOUR SEAT. USE THE RESTROOM.

Clean up after yourself in the restroom. A lot of people use one very small facility. Flush, put trash in the proper place and wipe up any drips.

Respect those around you. If you want to chat, make sure your neighbor does – or leave him alone. Take a shower before flying and don’t go too heavy on the cologne. Enough said. Don’t let your children play their video games without headphones.

If you’re having a problem with another passenger, talk to the flight attendant. If other passengers aren’t being “good citizens” you can make a gentle request. If that doesn’t work, try to just live with it – hopefully your flight isn’t that long. If it gets bad, talk to the flight attendant and let him try to solve your problem.

Want to work or watch a movie without the person in front of you reclining? Here’s a great tip: Buy the person in front of you a drink.

Before take off, introduce yourself to the person in front of you. Explain that you need to work, and if they recline all the way, you won’t be able to use your laptop. Ask if they wouldn’t mind limiting their seat recline, tell them you owe them for inconveniencing them, and offer to buy them a drink when the flight attendant comes down the aisle. Often they will refuse the drink but appreciate the gesture. Now you are traveling with a friend not a stranger.

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