Air Travel Etiquette

Sunday, October 30, 2016

When you travel by plane a lot you begin to notice certain reoccurring patterns of behaviour amongst your fellow passengers. At first these traits didn't bug me all that much, but now I've realised that they are damn right annoying! 

I think a lot of people forget that it's not just them travelling and that the world doesn't revolve around them. In everyday walks of life their behaviour would be called out for what it is (ignorant) but when travelling it seems to just get swept under the metaphorical carpet.  

Given how tiresome air travel can be, here are some simple etiquette rules to ensure everyone's flight is the least uncomfortable as possible (and I apologise if this becomes a rant haha).

1. Be prepared and on time

There is nothing worse than sitting on a plane ready to go, when the captain comes over the speaker and says "we apologise passengers but we are just waiting on one more passenger to arrive before we can take off". Sometimes things don't go to plan and you miss your taxi or can't find your headphones, but this comes down to being prepared and making sure you leave yourself plenty of time.  Being at the airport as soon as checkin opens is my goal and it's the timeframe I stick to, which also allows me to have those few freakout moments where I can't find things.

When you arrive at the airport, head straight to the gate when your flight details are available. You can't be late if you're already there! If you're travelling internationally you're likely to need quite a while to figure out the airport layout, so allow yourself plenty of time and be organised. Really, it's not that hard to be on time or even early for a flight, and holding everyone up not only causes issues for passengers, but can mean the plane is very delayed as the pilots wait for air traffic control to find them a new departure slot. 

2. Board when called

Why is it that when an airline calls a plane as "ready for boarding" there's a 6 mile long queue of passengers which suddenly forms? I think a lot of people miss the part where the airline attendant called rows 1-10 only? Pretty sure 90% of the people who get up aren't supposed to be boarding yet! There is a reason airlines call certain rows and don't stress, we are not going to be forgotten! Just keep your cool and board when called, we're all going to get on the plane at some point :) 

3. Don't pack the kitchen sink in your onboard luggage

Good god, why do some people insist on bringing so much stuff on the plane with them! No worries, for an international flight you'll want some entertainment, change of clothes maybe and your toiletries, but what else could people possibly need that means they need an entire overhead locker to themselves!? I cannot tell you how many times I've been on a plane with my little bag of necessities and seen some poor hostess trying aimlessly to find more space for peoples bags. You know how small these planes are inside, think before your pack. If you do want to bring lots of bags check them in, and yes I know it's expensive, but it's also the considerate thing to do - business people I'm particularly looking at you!

4. Turn your devices off when told

I'm no engineer, but I have a feeling that telling us to turn off our electronic devices is for our own safety, so let's just do it! Surely you could have finished your calls and messages before you got on the plane, and surely no one is going to miss you for those extra few seconds you have before a hostess marches down and tells you off. Turn off your devices when told, simple, and try to enjoy the freedom of not having to be connected to the outside world for a few hours - honestly it's liberating!

5. Share the armrest

Whoever the unlucky bugger is who gets the middle seat has automatic rights to the armrests. There's no benefit of being in the middle, so at least be nice enough to let them spread out a little. It's not nice to feel squashed, and I honestly think it's quite rude to just assume you have any more right to the space than your neighbour does. Sharing is caring! If your neighbour decides to squish you in the middle seat, just ask if they'd like to swap seats and I guarantee they'll give you more space rather quickly ;)

6. Be considerate when reclining your seat

Definitely one of my biggest bug bears being a 6 foot tall chick is when someone reclines their seat from upright to in my face 0.0002 seconds after taking off. For starters, unless they intend to sleep I really don't see why they need to recline the seat. Yes planes are awfully uncomfortable, but that's what we get for not winning the lottery and flying first class. Why do we think it's ok to make someone else's flight even more uncomfortable?

Ok, so after my rant I have to say that you do have a seat that reclines so why shouldn't you use it? Fair enough. What I would love to see is some consideration for the person behind you, either by asking them if they don't mind or just checking to make sure they will still have some feeling in their legs if you decide to recline your seat. If no one's behind you, go for it! Otherwise just think about the other person first.

7. Be friendly to your neighbour but respect personal space

It's a bit of a catch 22 when it comes to how much you should or shouldn't talk to the passenger beside you. I personally love to have a bit of a chat with my neighbour, as they often have really interesting stories about their own travels or what they plan to get up to. On my last couple of long haul flights I actually made quite good friends with my neighbours and have spoken with them in the outside world! Try to gauge your neighbours chattiness before diving into your life story though as it can be more annoying if someone doesn't give you your space when you do want it (i.e. let them sleep at some point!).

8. Freshen up

I don't mean to be rude by this one, but having recently flown with someone who had really bad BO I feel like a comment is necessary. Take a can of deodorant and a face washer on board if you know you're going to sweat because it's not fair on the rest of us to have to sit for a 12 hour flight trying not to breathe. It's general cleanliness and hygiene which surely isn't too much to ask...

9. Be polite to your airstaff

Huffing and puffing at the airhostess' is really uncalled for and is ridiculous to say the least. What happened to general common courtesy and human decency when we got on this plane? Be polite, say please when you ask for a glass of wine and thank you when your dinner arrives. Your food is going to be average, you're going to be uncomfortable, but a smile and a friendly tone doesn't go unappreciated.

10. Don't rush to get off the plane

Every time we come into land we all know what comes next... the stampede! As soon as the seat belt sign goes off (and usually before) everyone is jumping up out of their seats to get their bags. Then what? We wait for a good 15 minutes as the airline staff prepare the plane for arrival. Why is everyone in such a hurry to stand up and get crushed by all the bags being flung around the place? Do they not realise when we get off the plane we're all going to stand around a conveyor belt for another 15 minutes waiting for our luggage to arrive right? Seriously, let's all just chill out and leave the plane in an orderly fashion, like civilised humans!

Ok I apologise, this post turned into more of a rant than anything else, but these are honestly some of the most annoying traits that people seem to pull out when it comes to air travel. If we all just took a deep breathe and remembered we were boarding a plane to either head off on an adventure or return from one with amazing memories, maybe we'd make the flight just that little bit more enjoyable and less stressful!

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  1. My biggest pet peeve is definitely when people line up before their zone is called. It makes it really hard for people to board who were actually called up. I like the rest of your list - I definitely agree!

  2. really beatiful , I like the rest of your list

  3. Useful air travel etiquette. I enjoyed it a lot. I will also share it with other travel enthusiasts.
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