Airport and Airplane Etiquette

It’s almost the end of summer and you’ve probably taken all of your airplane trips already, so let’s see what you’ve been doing wrong this whole time! Just remember, that flying can suck but it sucks even more if everyone is acting like a big, whiny baby. At the airport:

  • At the check-in counter, remain friendly and calm.
  • New baggage fees are INCREDIBLY sucky, but a fact of life now (except for JetBlue and Southwest! Love JetBlue and Southwest and give them all your dollars) so make sure you are aware in advance of what they are and weigh your suitcases so you aren’t arguing with the person at the counter as the line grows behind you.
  • Yes the TSA is security theater and kind of ridiculous, but we all know the rules by now. Be ready to take off your shoes and pull out your baggie of liquids so you don’t hold up the line.
  • Don’t crowd around the gate. Wait for your boarding group to be called so that people don’t have to push through the big crowd. Don’t try to board when it’s not your turn! Major props to airlines who turn people back when their group hasn’t been called.
  • Don’t try to be all sneaky with your carry on baggage. Trying to get a too big bag in the overhead bin is not going to work and it just holds things up for everyone else. The rules exist for a reason and carry on space (see baggage fees above) is more crowded than ever.
  • Store your carry on in the bin above your seat, NOT at the front of the plane.

In Flight:

  • Don’t bring your very stinky food on the plane. Try for cold, dry snacks as much as possible. But make sure you do bring snacks! Don’t want to get hangry or have to pay the extreme prices for food on-board.
  • Apparently some people like to talk to strangers on planes. This is puzzling to me, but if you do, judge whether your seatmate is actually interested in chatting or is desperately looking around trying to think of a way to get you to stop.
  • Stay in your space bubble, don’t let your knees or elbows protrude into your neighbors space bubble.
  • The middle seat gets both armrests, if they want them. Sometimes, though, you have to assert your right to them, find advice here.
  • The whole row must make space when one of the interior seats needs to get up to use the restroom with a minimum of acting annoyed and put out. If you know you need to get up frequently, do your best to sit in the aisle rather than a window (though I know you sometimes don’t have much choice!)
  • Interior seat sitters should be mindful of good and bad times to get up. It’s much more of a hassle if everyone has their trays down with food on them.
  • Reclining seats is the biggest debate in flying etiquette. Some say that if they can recline, they should be able to recline with abandon, and some say you should never ever recline. I am in the reclining camp, but I think that if someone is reclining right into your kneecaps, you are free to speak up and the person in front of you should modify their recline. Success with this may vary, however. For heaven’s sake, please don’t kick the seat in front of you!
  • Seats should be upright during meals (if you should be so lucky…)
  • Don’t get belligerently drunk
  • Don’t harass the flight attendants (or call them stewardesses)
  • Sometimes someone might ask you to switch seats with them so they can sit with a child or something similar. You are free to say yes or no as you please. (If you are asking to switch seats, always make it so that you are taking the worse seat ie give someone your window seat for their middle seat.)
  • Flying with small kids sounds like a nightmare, but as long as you are actively trying to keep the occupied and quiet, people should give you a break. It’s the parents who zone out with a movie while their child is screeching who are very unmannerly.
  • Debark the plane in an orderly manner and don’t push your way into the aisle when no one is even moving yet.

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