Being aware of airplane etiquette will help you avoid unpleasant encounters with fellow passengers as you all violate each other’s personal space for a few hours. Sometimes the complaints about air travel don’t revolve around delayed flights or lost luggage; it’s about the rudeness of fellow travelers.
Proper flying etiquette begins before you even board the plane. The solution to making your hectic flights more tolerable and pleasant is by understanding that you all are sharing the same journey together, and thus all passengers should respect others.
Here are airplane etiquette to follow whenever you travel by air:
Everyone boarding the flight knows that they will need to show their boarding pass or passport at some point during the boarding process, whether it’s at check-in or at the gate. Have them ready in your hands before boarding, so you don’t need to fumble and waste others’ time, especially when you’re at the front of the queue.
This also applies when you approach the security checkpoint where you need to place your items in the bins on the conveyor belt. When you’re three people or so away from your turn, begin to take your jacket or belt off; it will make the security process faster for you and people around you.
Board when called forward
They call forward seats in groups first for a reason: to avoid a scramble to get through the gate. If your seat hasn’t been called, sit back, relax, and wait for your turn to board the plane. No need to rush to get into the front of the queue as well, because everybody will eventually board, including you.
Board and pack courteously
As airlines squeeze in more and more people per flight, passengers fight for the same bin space. To maximize room in the overhead compartment for other travelers, place your bag vertically rather than horizontally on the shelf. And only put one carry-on bag in the bin; the other one can fit in the open space under the seat in front of you.
Some travelers will always take a bag that doesn’t quit fit into the overhead compartment (and they will take five more minutes to shove their bag in the already-cramped space while everyone else waits). When this happens, smile politely, and offer to help if they’re struggling. Not only it is kind, but it could make the boarding process more efficient for everyone else.
Be willing to swap seats
Airlines sometimes block out certain seats or charge extra fees for adjacent ones, making it tough for family members to buy seats together. If you’re traveling solo and encounter this condition, offer to switch seats so that they can sit beside each other. But be sure to delay swapping until the plane has reached cruising altitude (or if possible you can change seats before taxi).
The middle seat gets the armrests
If you happen to be seated on window or aisle seat, don’t use the interior armrests. Each window and aisle seat already have one each of their very own, thus, the middle seat gets both the interior armrests. Feel free to enlighten an armrest-stealing seatmate regarding this rule.
Be careful while reclining the seat
Nothing gets an air traveler more worked up than the person in front of them reclining their seat. If at all possible, it’s best to not recline your seat at all; because when you recline your seat it means that the person behind you has to recline their seat, and so on. If you must recline, do it slowly enough (of course after turning around and mentioning that you’re about to do it) that the passenger behind you can move breakable or spill-able stuff out of harm’s way.
Avoid bringing smelly food
The aroma of the double cheeseburger or tuna sandwich that you purchased in the airport food court will permeate the circulating air in the plane. And while we’re on the topic of odors, perfume, scented lotions, aftershave, or anything else with scent should be used lightly or not at all. The recycled air on the plane can amplify the fragrance, and if others are sensitive to it, it can leave them with allergy-like symptoms and real headaches.
Touching down has the same effect as the old school bell—everybody tries to be the first through the door. Be courteous of other people’s belongings in the overhead compartment as you reach for your own, and offer to help them get their bags if you can.