8 Tips on Airplane Etiquette

Airplane cabinMarch begins peak season for traveling. Not only is it spring break for students, but conventions and meetings begin worldwide. Here are eight tips to keep in mind when traveling in an airplane:

1. Arrive early. The main reason people are late is because they do not plan ahead. It’s that’s simple. For most trips I write a timeline that starts days before the travel date, including when to pack. On the day of travel I note what time to leave the house to get to the airport at least 1 to 2 hours ahead of flight time.

There’s nothing worse than to be in rush, afraid of missing the flight, and getting all worked up over something that could have easily been avoided. Yet I continue to see people rush past me, scrambling to find someone who will let them pass through the security line, just because their flight is leaving in less than 30 minutes.

The antidote is to be kind to yourself and your well-being by always arriving at the airport early. Treat yourself—as part of the plan—to a meal or a drink before the flight. Doing so will improve your health and affect the well-being of others.

2. Get through the security check efficiently. Other than a first-time traveler, people have no excuse to hold up security lines because they didn’t separate toiletry items, drink their water, or didn’t have their ID or passport out. Get organized before you get in line!

3. Avoid anything smelly or messy. No matter how much you want to enjoy certain foods during a flight, think twice before bringing foods with heavy smells. Instead, choose foods that will not permeate through the passenger cabin.

Speaking of smelly, if you have stinky feet, do not remove your shoes during the flight; and if you must, do so in the lavatory and bring an extra pair of socks to wear. No one enjoys sitting next to someone with smelly feet, bad breath, body odor, or heavy perfumes or colognes. Check yourself before leaving the house.

Lastly, need I say more than to remind you not to leave a mess in the lavatory or area around your seat, including the food tray. Make every effort to be as neat and clean as possible.

4. Don’t be a space hog: When placing items in the overhead bin, place all items in as small a space as possible, stacking your coat or small bag on top, not next to the larger bag.

When it comes to how you sit, how you sleep, and how you use armrests, no matter what your body size is, it’s rude to hog the space. If sitting at the window seat, use the armrest closest to the window most. If seated next to the aisle, you may use the armrest closer toward the window. However, doing so leaves the middle person crunched. His or her primary armrest should be the one closest to the window. The bottom line is that armrests are to be shared and no one should use both.

5. Be considerate of the person behind you. Only recline your seat when food is not served. Otherwise, keep your seat raised.

6. Be considerate of the person in front of you. It bothers me to no end when the person behind me uses their pocket holder in such a way that it jabs me in my back… while I’m sleeping. Then there are those who push on my seat and kick it. Last, recognize how much you move the seat in front of you when leaving your seat. The worst is when you accidentally pull on the hair of the person seated in front of you.

7. Keep children in check: I understand how infants and toddlers are often less able to control their discomfort without crying. Yet, there are many ways a parent can help older children remain quiet and calm throughout the flight.  At the top of the list is briefing the child in advance on what will be taking place; explaining the feelings the child will have during takeoff and landing, and the “manners” they must display to be considerate of others seated near your and throughout the cabin.  Do a walk-though rehearsal of the day to help kids envision all that will transpire before, during, and after the flight.  Bring toys, books, and an electronic device to occupy their time. You may not allow your child to run around, as though they are home. Everyone must remain in their seat or stand quietly in the back of the plane.

8. Keep your temper under control. No matter how aggravated, angry, and upset you become over various situations, the airline staff, and other individuals, treat others with respect, especially those who serve you. It’s a sign of your level of intelligence in recognizing that “it’s all about treating others as you would like to be treated.”

BONUS: Use pleasantries as often as needed: Use Please, Thank-you, You’re welcome (versus no problem), Excuse me, May I (versus can I), and all the other nice words and phrases that give others and yourself a more enjoyable flight.

Happy Flying!

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