How Not to Be the Worst Passenger on the Plane This Summer
Summer is the busiest time of year for travelers across the globe, and this year an estimated 246 million passengers are taking to the skies, according to the Airlines for America.
Travelers are eager to get to their destinations, potentially leading to some unpleasant interactions — and even a rethinking of the state of society. These days, a fear of flying can be caused simply by anxiety about what might happen during your flight, whether that's encountering a sick passenger, losing your luggage, being surrounded by intoxicated seatmates, fighting with flight attendants, or encountering the dreaded seat-kicker.
The news is riddled with people losing their minds and manners on planes, and we really need to get it together. Here are some basic plane etiquette guidelines to at least ensure that you aren't the problem on your next flight.
Being aware of your surroundings can help speed up the security and boarding process. Put down your phone, and stay alert so the security lines and boarding areas keep moving. This also means knowing when to chug your water bottle before security and taking out all electronic devices and liquids.
Be seat savvy.
As seats get smaller, it's easy to feel territorial of what little space you’re allotted — and to even try to claim just a bit more. But remember that everyone else on the plane probably feels the same, and doesn't need you encroaching on their own little plane world.
On airlines with open seating policies (like Southwest) it may not always be practical to save seats for your travel buddies. Families with young children should be seated together for everyone’s sake. And if flight attendants ask you to move to accommodate a family or passenger with specific needs, try to be considerate.
If you're lucky enough to be in an aisle or window seat, you do not get two armrests. Those two middle armrests are for the middle seat, period.
To recline or not recline, is this still a question? Yes, and rightfully so. There's a lot to debate here, but here's a general rule. On short flights of four hours or less, keep your seat upright. On longer or overnight flights, reclining is part of the deal — but always do so smoothly and don't just throw your seat back into the face of the person behind you. And put that seat up for meal service, it's just common courtesy.
Flying as a family? Always try to keep the kids close. Sit next to kids under the age of 10 to keep an eye on any bad behavior — like kicking the back of the seat.
No one likes a seat-kicker. And no one likes the parent who won't do anything about their seat-kicking kid, either.
Know what not to do.
In confined spaces, any irritant to the senses can spiral quickly into chaos. Smells are a huge cause for commotion.
If the flight occurs during a mealtime considering adjusting to eat prior or post flight or bring food that is low on the odor scale. A juicy fast food burger and fries can seem enticing to you, but smelly food — even the delicious kind — is rarely enjoyed by your fellow passengers. Bringing odorless or low-odor foods won’t cause people to roll their eyes or worse GAG around you.
Don’t be chatty to an unwilling listener. Pay attention to cues like monosyllabic responses or never asking any questions in return. And if your seatmate puts their headphones on, don't take it personally — consider it an opportunity to get in some reading or catch a movie on the in-flight entertainment system.
If you have an early morning or late night flight, try to be considerate of talking and noise to those who may want to sleep around you.
Hygiene is huge.
Being clean and fresh for a flight is an underrated but polite service to your fellow passengers. But hygiene should be done before a flight, not during: Clipping your nails or toenails on the tray table in front of you is not acceptable. Painting your nails is also a big no for in-flight entertainment. In fact, just plan to keep your feet covered for the duration of the flight. Your seat is not your personal salon chair.
Be courteous of time spent in the lavatory. When you'll have to get up from a middle or window seat, consider your seatmates and try to plan around meal service and sleeping. Get up and stretch your legs and use the restroom when it's not a hassle to everyone around you.
Mind your business.
There is no worse place to get in a fight than on an airplane. Even in a bad situation, it's important to try to remain calm and rational.
Say the person behind you keeps jabbing at the seatback screen while you're trying to sleep. Will it help to turn around and tell them off? It won't. If there's an incident during your flight, first stay calm. Second keep out of it if you can, and let the flight crew handle the situation. Whether it’s an argument or physical altercation, the first answer is not to whip out your phone and record the moment.