Flying is a part of most of our lives. For some it’s a rare occurrence that happens once every few years when taking a vacation and for others, it’s a recurring activity that happens weekly or monthly because of their careers. Either way, the vast majority of people will board a plane at some point and it can be a whole different world compared to what we are used to. When we encounter something that is so out of the ordinary spectrum of what we are used to, we sometimes aren’t entirely sure what is acceptable and what is frowned upon. Although there is no official handbook with written guidelines for flying, there is certainly an unofficial set of do’s and don’ts when in the air.
A lot of these simply come down to basic common courtesy and some aren’t so intuitive that just anyone would know to follow unless they are frequent flyers. Flying can be stressful for many and with that heightened level of anxiety, people tend to focus on how to get through it, forgetting that there are hundreds around them who are also trying to get to their next destination.
Being cognizant of others in our general vicinity is important when taking flight as we would want others to be aware of our personal space and needs too. With that said, here are eleven simple tips for good plane etiquette and nine things that will make everyone rage.
20 HELPFUL TIP: Pay Attention to The Flight Attendant During Take Off
This is one that the vast majority of flyers definitely don’t do, but should start doing. It is a common occurrence to see travelers in their seats busy on their phones, listening to music or talking to their neighbors while the flight attendant is going through the mandatory pre-flight safety demonstration.
Sure, most people ignore this part of take-off, but the nice thing to do is to take two minutes to put things down and pay attention to their demonstration while making eye contact so they know you are listening. It’s their job and being ignored by hundreds of passengers can’t be a great feeling. Not to mention, you might learn a lifesaving tip from them in the event that something goes wrong.
19 DON’T: Make a Half-Hearted Attempt to Let Someone Through The Aisle
If you are in the aisle seat, there’s a bit more that you have to be aware of because you are the buffer between a couple of passengers and their ability to exit or move around. With that said, when they want to get up to go to the restroom, don’t make a lazy attempt to let them pass through by simply lifting your legs to the side.
Instead, be courteous and stand up to let them access the aisle with ease rather than forcing them to stumble over your feet and belongings in what is already a cramped space.
18 HELPFUL TIP: Follow Directions When Going Through Security
This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t follow this tip. When security gives direction, it’s helpful to follow through because it helps the line go by more efficiently, saving everyone time.
So when they say to take off your shoes and remove your laptop from its bag, please do so. When you get to the front, you aren’t going to be given special treatment. You’re going to have to these things like everyone else, so be ready and help the line move quickly by removing whatever is necessary, putting all required items in the security bin and listening carefully for further instructions.
17 DON’T: Grab the Back of The Seat When Standing Up
This is definitely a major pet peeve and one that might seem petty but is a pretty big deal. By force of habit, people tend to grab whatever is in front of them when standing up to make it easier on themselves. On a plane, the seat in front of you is that support object. Well, don’t use it.
Someone is in that seat and when your full weight is being supported by the seat, it’s going to move considerably. The person in that seat is going to feel the sudden jolt and it’s pretty annoying, most especially if you were in a deep slumber. In fact, avoid any type of contact with the seat in front of you as much as possible. It really is just a matter of being aware of what is respectful to others.
16 HELPFUL TIP: Give Up The Arm Rest to The Person in the Middle Seat
If you are sitting in the aisle seat or the window seat, you basically got some prime real estate. Luckily for you, you didn’t get stuck with the dreaded middle seat, where you’re squished in between two strangers.
If you happen to have luck on your side on your travel day, be nice and give up the armrest to the unlucky schmuck sandwiched in the middle. It’s the least you can do with all the luxury space the aisle seat provides by comparison.
15 DON’T: Don’t Get Dressed When Getting Your Belongings From The Security Belt
After you have made it past the security line, it’s tempting to retrieve your belongings and bins from the conveyor belt and want to get dressed right then and there. There’s nothing more frustrating than to be stuck waiting behind someone who is putting on their coat, belt and shoes while stuffing their laptop back into their bag.
There are benches off to the side for a reason. Grab your stuff and take your time where there is no one waiting behind you. It’s the nice thing to do.
14 HELPFUL TIP: Clear The Aisle
The flight attendants have a stressful job sometimes. When they are pushing the snack and drink cart down the aisle, the last thing they want to do is run into your backpack or worse, your foot and then have to tend to your banged up toe.
Be aware of their need to move freely throughout the cabin as they have to help several passengers who are calling them in different directions. It is helpful for you to keep your legs within the confines of the seat and push all your belongings under the seat in front of you.
13 DON’T: Blast Your Music
The aviation industry has always looked for ways to make more and more money, so that means they have fit more seats onto their planes in an effort to get more passengers onboard. This means your space is limited. With that said, keep the volume on your phone or iPad to a reasonable level.
The person next to you, who’s ear is within 18 inches of your headphones probably doesn’t want to hear your music or listen to your movie.
12 HELPFUL TIP: Stay Seated When “Fasten Seatbelt” Sign is On
There is a reason why the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign exists. It comes on to let passengers know that it is unsafe to be out of one’s seat and moving around the cabin because the plane has not yet reached cruising altitude or there is expected turbulence on the way.
This is for your safety so follow the rule! It’s also there because the flight attendants need the aisle cleared while they are doing their drink and snack rounds. If you get up and the attendants pass your seat, your trip on the way back is going to include you and the flight crew having to get creative with how you get around their bulky cart. Not fun for anyone involved.
11 DON’T: Drink to Excess
Boarding a plane can be stressful for those who aren’t exactly used to flying. It can also be a time for excitement as many folks are giddy to arrive at whatever destination they are heading to. The stress or the excitement of a good time can sometimes cause folks to drink before boarding the plane and also order adult beverages while onboard. This is more than ok and can even be a good thing, but it’s never a good idea to take it overboard and drink excessively. It’s not only embarrassing, but the people sitting next to you and the flight staff have to deal with whatever behavior comes along with the drinking.
10 HELPFUL TIP: Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode… Or At The Very Least, Hide It
Before takeoff, the flight attendant tells all passengers to put phones on airplane mode. No one really knows why and it has become some mythical urban legend type of thing at this point. Will not putting your phone on airplane mode affect the flight in any way? Who knows? But the bigger point is the flight crew has explicitly asked folks to do it and they have to spend time walking the aisles scolding folks when they don’t. So if you don’t switch to airplane mode, at the very least, hide it as they walk by so they aren’t aggravated with the number of people ignoring them.
9 DON’T: Cut In Line When Getting Off The Plane
This is one of the single most frustrating things passengers do on flights. In fact, it’s enough to truly cause a stir between strangers. When the plane lands and it’s time to get off, the unofficial rule is to allow people to get off in the order of seats.
People in the front go first, moving down the aisle through the back of the plane. Every once in a while there is someone who decides their plans are more important than the rest of the passengers and races in front of everyone to the front. Don’t be that person. If everyone did this, it would be absolute mayhem!
8 HELPFUL TIP: Greet the Flight Crew When Boarding
This is just common courtesy. When boarding the plane for the very first time, the flight attendants are usually at the entryway of the plane, greeting each passenger. When they do greet you, return the hello with a smile. It’s a pretty minor act that can make a difference in their day. At the very least, acknowledge their smile with a look instead of completely ignoring them.
It’s understandable that getting through the airport is hectic, but a simple hello is not much to ask for.
7 DON’T: Get Too Comfortable on The Plane
We get it. You’re in for a long flight. Sitting on a plane for hours on end can be not only frustrating, but tiring and uncomfortable. After being restless for so long, it’s only normal to want to relax and get comfy, which is fine. But there are limitations. Don’t take it overboard.
Discreetly sliding off shoes and using a head pillow is perfectly acceptable. But there are times when folks want to put their feet on the armrest of the seat in front of them or want to spread out and use the seat next to them, getting into the personal space of their neighbor.
There is a line. Make sure not to cross it into awkward or rude territory.
6 HELPFUL TIP: Follow the Boarding Rules at The Gate
The airport can be stressful. Getting there on time, finding parking in the maze that is airport parking, checking bags, getting through security, and finally finding your gate can be quite stressful. After you’ve made it past all this madness, most folks just want to get to their seat on the plane. But be patient. Make sure you follow the boarding rules while waiting at the gate.
The airport has a boarding system to ensure the ultimate efficiency and orderliness. Attempting to skip is pointless. Most airports have assigned seats nowadays anyways. Your seat isn’t going anywhere.
5 DON’T: Make the Biggest Deal Out of a Crying Baby
It’s probably the most dreaded of all the things that could go wrong on a plane. Sitting next to a crying kid is what most adults are terrified of when traveling. In fact, at a subconscious level when an adult sees a child coming their way, they probably start to get anxious.
Even though we sympathize with having to sit next to a fussy baby, don’t be the adult that makes a big deal out of it. Don’t angrily tell a mother to quiet their infant. It stands to reason she is probably trying her absolute hardest to do so in the first place. Smile and be happy you aren’t the one who has to deal with all of that stress.
4 HELPFUL TIP: Be Courteous When Interacting with Flight Attendants
The flight crew, more specifically, the flight attendants are there to meet the needs of all the passengers on board. Even though they are there to provide a service, this doesn’t mean it gives travelers leeway to be rude or demand things of them. It’s only right to treat them with the respect that you’d treat anyone else with.
Use “please” and “thank you" when speaking with them. These are bare minimum things that go a long way when interacting with the staff.
3 DON’T: Try To Bring a Bag That Doesn’t Fit in the Overhead
It is understandable to want to save as much money on a trip as possible. Finding ways to cut costs is not only smart, but responsible. One of the best ways to do so is to bypass checking any luggage and instead use carry-on bags. This is a great way to save, but only if you are doing it right.
Don’t stuff everything into a small piece of luggage that clearly doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment. It isn’t fair to others behind you waiting to get to their seat while you are busy trying your hardest to stuff it into a space that it doesn’t fit into. Plus, it’s against the rules. If it takes more than a few seconds to fit, it should probably be checked.
2 HELPFUL TIP: Freshen Up Before Boarding
This one is a simple matter of decency and good hygiene. You’re going to be sitting next to someone for several hours. It’s only right to do the bare minimum of showering beforehand. Or at least freshen up before boarding so that you are at least tolerable enough to sit next to. Even better, be the passenger that smells pleasant and makes your seat neighbors grateful that they got a seat next to you.
Nothing is worse than having to sit by someone who has unpleasant hygiene.
1 HELPFUL TIP: Compliment the Flight Crew When Leaving
As you exit the plane, just as you greeted the flight crew on the way in, make sure to do the same on the way out. A simple “thank you” and “goodbye” are all that are necessary.
But if you really want to make their day, there’s nothing wrong with a compliment about how great they were. It’ll definitely put a smile on their face and probably brighten up their day just a bit. After all, they have done everything to get you from home to your new destination in one piece!