Airplane Etiquette

Airplane Etiquette

Airplane Etiquette is more important now than in years past. Often, flights are filled to capacity and running behind schedule. The seating space is limited and many times airlines lack amenities such as food, blankets, pillows, movies, etc. The number one rule while flying is to treat others with the highest degree of respect.  Follow the Golden Rule and treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Don’t leave home without common courtesies (“thank you,” “please,” “excuse me,” etc).  A smile and a positive attitude should always accompany you on your trip. 

I have provided 10 in-flight etiquette tips, plus a bonus gesture:

  1. When boarding the plane, be careful not to bump the passengers already seated.  Use caution at all times.  Carry your bags in front of you or pull your small luggage in a controlled motion behind you.  To those aisle passengers boarding first, keep your arms, elbows and legs away from the aisle during the boarding process.
  2. Try to store your carry-ons in the general vicinity of your seat; keep in mind you do not own the bin directly above your seat.  As more and more travelers are bringing their luggage on the plane, be mindful that space is limited.  Do not become upset if you are asked to check your bag at the gate or if your carry-on is stored some distance from your seat.
  3. Follow the directions of the flight attendant.  When asked to turn off all electronics, do as directed.  The use of cellular phones should be limited to informing others of your departure and arrival.  It is impolite to engage in an in-depth business or personal call on a plane.  Not only are those seated next to you forced to hear your conversation, but other passengers near you are as well.
  4. Keep your voice low on the plane, especially when talking with travel companions.  Minimal small talk is acceptable and I recommend that you speak to others seated on your row.  If someone is trying to keep you engaged in a long conversation, politely excuse yourself from the conversation.  You can let the person know that you would like to nap, read, work, watch a movie, etc.  Say something such as, “It was nice meeting you; I would like to read now.”  Also, when listening to a personal music player, keep the volume down low.  Often times, the person seated next to you can hear the sounds from your earphones.
  5. How to handle the armrest? The people seated in the aisle and window seats have the outer armrests and the middle passenger gets both inner armrests.
  6. Position your chair so that both you and your neighbor are comfortable.  When reclining, look behind you and recline slowly.
  7. For those traveling with children, make arrangements ahead of time to keep your child(ren) occupied and relaxed throughout the flight.  Consider bringing books, games, snacks, etc.  Your child is your responsibility. Therefore make sure he/she is well behaved and uses a quiet voice at all times so other passengers are not disturbed.
  8. Space is limited on an aircraft; hence it is not wise to bring confidential work materials, large newspapers, smelly foods, or any items that infringe on others’ comfort and space.
  9. When moving through a plane, use caution and avoid grabbing the backs of others’ seats.  If you occupy the aisle seat on long flights, occasionally ask those seated in your row if they would like to pass to stretch or go to the lavatory.  Also, it is okay to politely waken a person to exit your row.
  10. When leaving the plane, proceed as instructed. Hurrying to obtain your carry-ons and lingering in the aisles will not help you get off the plane any faster.  Alert the flight attendants if you have a tight connection so that special arrangements can be made.

Finally, after you arrive safely, express gratitude to the flight attendants and pilots when exiting the plane.  It is not the attendant’s fault if a crying child or inconsiderate passenger was on the plane.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.