We love to travel, but flying can be a pain. Here are a few ways that flight etiquette while onboard can make flying a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Flight Etiquette During the Flight
1. Don’t Be a Grizzly Bear
Try not to snore. I know nobody snores on purpose. But you probably know if you are a snorer one who snores if you are, don’t fall asleep.
This happened once. Someone behind us was snoring so loudly that I could hear them over the noise on the plane and through my noise-canceling headphones. It was disturbing, annoying, and just inconsiderate. Yes, you have a right to be comfortable and to sleep if you can. Taking away everyone else’s right to comfort by snoring loudly severely violates flight etiquette.
2. Don’t be a drunk
Nobody enjoys having a few drinks more than me. Nobody enjoys having more drinks than if you of me.
I’ve had to share plans with drunk people though so I know to not have more than one or two drinks on a flight. You get dehydrated enough lying anyway.
Someone who drinks too much and gets drunk and Flight annoys the other adults and scares the kids. Don’t be that person.
3. Don’t attack the person behind you
The thing with airplane seats is that your seat is someone else’s wall, and your dining table is someone else’s seat.
I’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t recline. My opinion is that if the seat reclines then you have a right to recline it. That means that if the seat in front of me reclines than the person in the seat in front of me has the right to recline it. Keep in mind that when you incline your backing your seat right into somebody’s face. Be cool about it.
When you recline your seat do it slowly don’t slam it back remember there’s a person behind you.
The flight attendants always ask that we keep our seats in the upright position until the seatbelt light is turned off. Don’t recline your seat as soon as the wheels leave the ground. For one thing, be nicer to the person behind you than that. For another thing, the airlines have that rule for a reason so wait until the seatbelt sign is turned off.
4. Treat your tray table with respect.*
Few things make me more nervous than the flight attendant handing me a brimming cup of coffee for me to place on the tray table, which is somebody’s seat. I’m not sure if it’s an aviation miracle or The care and consideration of passengers, but it surprises me that more drinks are not spilled on airplanes. In that area, we do quite well.
However, when I set a drink or a laptop or my phone on the tray table, I have to keep in mind that it is attached to someone’s seat, and I cannot freak out if they recline and tassel whatever I put on the table.
That also means we can’t slam the tray open or closed, bang on the tray, or bang on the seat. Even if we get mad at something. Even if we get mad at the person in front of us.
Remember the guy banging on the purposely, constantly seat in front of him? He was angry claiming she broke his computer somehow. Unless she broke his computer on purpose he should have realized the truth about the tray table. He should have acted like a mature adult in a world where things don’t always go the way we want it to. He should not have continuously banged on the seat like a child who didn’t get their way. Always behave with dignity and self-respect.
Just remember, we’re all in this together. Your seat back is somebody else’s tray table, and your tray table is somebody else’s seat.
5. Share the Armrests
In coach, you have to share at least one armrest. In the middle seats, you have to share both armrests. Don’t hog the armrests. More than just proper flight etiquette, sharing armrests is an act of kindness.
If you notice you’ve been using it for a while remove your elbows from it and offer it to the other passengers. They are just as uncomfortable as you are.
Here are two more ways you can be extra nice. If you’re sitting on the aisle seat let the person next to you have your right armrest, their left armrest. You have the armrest on your aisle side that you don’t have to share.
If you’re on the window seat then share your laptop and rest. You have an armrest by the window that you don’t have to share. If the person by the seat and the person by the window are both hogging both armrests that leaves the person in the middle squeezed in between the two without even a place to rest their arms. It’s just a nice thing to do to make the flight pleasant for as many people as possible.
Don’t Keep Prisoners
It’s not healthy to sit too long for the several hours that might be the duration of a flight. Unless there is turbulence or some other danger it is always a good idea to get up and stretch your legs and walk around.
I read an article that said to only get up at convenient times. That is true. When people are waiting for the drink and beverage cart, don’t be the person who makes the flight attendants have to push the cart all the way back to a bulkhead because you didn’t seize a better opportunity to get up.
I always watch for an opportunity to get up. Even if I don’t have to go, I take a Preemptive Strike.
Remember the narrow aisles? That we shouldn’t use the seats to balance? If you sit too long and your legs get wobbly, it’s going to be that much more difficult to keep your balance. The longer you sit, the more likely you will be–and the more likely the people in the middle and windows seats will be–to need to grab seats for balance when walking the aisle.
This is especially important to keep in mind if you have the aisle seat. Don’t make a person who is too shy to ask you to get up or who doesn’t want to bother anyone suffer by making them sit in the middle row for the entire flight.
Get up a couple of times to go to the bathroom or just walk up and down the isles. When you do, offer the person in the middle seat and the person in the window seat the opportunity to get up and stretch their legs or go to the bathroom if they like to. I say, “Would you like to get up for a bit before the drink cart blocks the aisle?”
I also always tell the person to feel free to let me know if they need to get up for anything, to not sit and suffer.
It’s good for you to get up stretch your legs and get your blood flowing and the other passengers will really appreciate it.
Don’t use the seat in front of you to pull yourself up*
It takes some coordination to stand up from an airplane seat especially if you don’t grab the seat in front of you. But remember that is someone else’s seat. It is very annoying to have someone behind you pulling on your seat to get up. They might be sleeping or drinking a hot beverage, and you could wake them up or cause them to spill hot coffee or tea on themselves.
I’m sure that you have experienced it. It’s not that much more difficult to just push yourself up from the armrests which you are hopefully sharing with the passengers next to you.
Yes, it is difficult to stand up in that little space. If the person behind you uses the seat in front of them to pull themselves up. It’s going to jostle you, wake you up, cause you to spill hot coffee on your brand new shirt.
Bring activities for your kids to enjoy
Kids are way better than we are about not sitting too much. A long flight might be too long for them to sit. Watch for opportunities to take Preemptive Strikes. Bring something for them to do. Something to read, something to color, toys to play with, movies to watch, games to play. Maybe a game you can play with them or a movie you can watch with them.
On our long flights to Spain, we got my kid two surprises. A few hours into the flight we gave her some new toys for being good on the flight. That occupied her for a while. Then we gave her some surprise Crayons and a coloring book. That kept her occupied for the length of the flight.
Maintain Flight Etiquette and Deplane With Dignity
Complaining. Mansplaining. Womplaining.
Getting off the plane might be one of the most stressful times of the flight. Everyone is in a hurry to get their bags out of the overhead storage ban and get off the plane as quickly as they can. There is only one aisle for everyone on the plane. The process takes even longer because of the people who don’t put their bags in the overhead bins above their own seat, Thus, causing everyone else to have to shuffle around looking for their bags over other people’s seats.
How many times as soon as the plane comes to a stop everyone takes out their seatbelts and rushes to grab all of their stuff to stand in the aisle and wait for the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to finally open the door. Then you still have to wait for everyone in front of you to get their bags out of the overhead storage and for the people that have to go up and down the plane to get their bags because someone else but their bags over someone else’s seat.
There are a couple of ways to avoid your own frustration and to help ease others’ frustration. I recommend trying both.
Try to plan to take it easy
I try to plan to relax in my seat reading a book, listening to music, or listening to a podcast while everyone else stands up and waits for the airplane door to open, then waiting for everyone in front to find their bags get them out of the overhead bin and make their way up the aisle.
It is so much more relaxing and enjoyable to just take a few minutes to enjoy a good book or good music without the rush. It’s like a vacation within a vacation.
Be nice and let people out
Also as you’re moving out if you see someone standing by their seat having to duck down under the overhead storage van be nice and let them out. It might take 30 to 60 seconds to do something nice and let them out.
Most importantly if you have several bags in certain places in overhead storage compartments don’t make everyone else wait on you to gather all your bags from different places in the overhead storage before leaving the plane.
Do Tell Your Kids These Things*
They won’t know. Share this with your kids.
*My friends covered this on episode 109 of their Disney Travel Secrets podcast.
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Next on The Travel Wizard: Episode 10: What would you like me to talk about?
Previously on The Travel Wizard: Episode 8: For the Greater Good of Flying, Preflight.