How to Be a Courteous Airline Passenger: Follow These Tips


You do not have to be a world traveler to know that flying can be a tense and stressful situation, which usually leaves your patience wearing thin. If you are fortunate enough to fly first class, then you may have avoided the common flying faux pas that many people are all too familiar with.

With crowded airport lines and tight security measures, by the time you reach your seat, it only takes one rude passenger to throw everything out of whack. If you have ever had a bad experience with flying, you have probably wished that there was a manual, or some golden rules, that everyone should have to follow within that small space to ensure a peaceful traveling experience.

Unfortunately, there is no manual, and while it might seem like common sense to you when you are frustrated, there will always be an inexperienced flyer amongst the bunch.

So, whether you want to read these for yourself, or hand them to your neighbor, here are a few tips on how to be a courteous airline passenger.

Be Prepared

In everything you do in life, you should be prepared, so naturally, when you are entering a tiny cabin filled with people you should come ready to fly. But, what do we mean? Well, there are several things you need to take into consideration when you are traveling, and preparation is the most important factor.

For instance, are you traveling with children? If you are, try and adjust your children’s schedules within reason, of course. Remember to bring snacks, toys, and distractions for your kids to play with, not only for your children’s peace of mind, but for the people you are flying with. Another thing you should keep in mind is that their ears will probably pop, which will cause pain, so it is a good idea to pack some gum, for kids who are old enough to chew it. This can avoid lots of pain and screaming.

Airline Passenger 1

You should also be prepared when it comes to proper packing and luggage, which means you should know the rules and restrictions ahead of time. Do not bring an over-sized carry on with you on the plane, or more than two personal items because you will occupy more than your share of the overhead compartment.

Respect Personal Space

When flying, you are likely to meet a variety of people from across the United States, and if you are a social person, you might be inclined to strike up a conversation. While it is polite to exchange pleasantries, you never know how long the person next to you has been traveling, or how much longer they have left to travel. So, when you board a plane and find that you are seated directly next to someone, you should avoid invading their personal space.

There are a couple of different ways in which you can invade the personal space of someone on a plane. The first is physical and involves the armrest, and surprisingly, there are armrest rules. It might be tempting after a time waiting in an airport, or for a connecting flight, to take up the entire armrest, but you should leave plenty of space for your neighbor to use the arm rest as well. Also, according to the rules of etiquette, if you have three seats next to each other, the person in the middle seat, gets to claim the armrest.

Sometimes people will also physically invade a person’s space with their physical items, like their books, newspapers, or carry-on’s. Alternatively, they will recline their seat too far, or even kick the back of the seat. Always try to keep in mind that you are in a small space and that you are in someone’s personal “bubble,” so do not invade it with your physical things.

Another common complaint amongst passengers is the chatterbox, or the person who invades your space with conversation. It might seem ridiculous to think that friendly banter is an invasion, but sometimes on a long flight, you might want to just get some rest. If you find that the person you are speaking to has headphones, seems tired, or is not very receptive to your conversation, try to be respectful and let them rest.

Be Respectful of The Controlled Environment

Have you ever heard of the phrase “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should?” So, eating garlic, onion, and mushroom pizza in a tightly enclosed cabin filled with people is not against the rules of the plane, but should you do it? What’s worse, sometimes people spray perfume, take off their shoes, and clip their nails.

These behaviors are not conducive in a tiny and controlled environment; they create smells in a tight, closed area with people who may already be feeling nauseous. In a controlled environment, you should also be respectful of the amount of noise you are making and the amount of alcohol you are consuming. It is not respectful of the people around you to scream or yell your conversation loud enough for everyone else to hear.

Listen to Boarding Announcements

Depending on the airline that you are flying, there can be several different types of priority boarding. If you are not prepared and waiting at the boarding gate on time and listening, you will miss the announcement. This can cause overcrowding, late boarding, and cranky passengers.

While it is tempting to venture off and grab a snack in the airport when airlines are running late, you need to have respect for the time of the passengers who are there waiting. This means, you must stay put and wait for the boarding announcements.

Don’t Cut the Line

You have finally made it through the security check, waiting in the airport, and now you are boarding, so make sure you board with grace. This should be in your mind from when you were in kindergarten – do not cut the line, and make sure you leave a space between yourself and the passenger in front of you when entering the plane.

Stow Your Luggage Respectfully

When you board the plane, you can place your carry on suitcase in the bin space above your seat, and your smaller bag on the floor beneath you. It is imperative that you follow these rules so that you do not slow down the deplaning process.

Also, stow your luggage with respect for the people beside you. The overhead compartment was designed to stow more than just your luggage, so do not put more than one of your bags in that area and don’t store it horizontally. Place a small, carry-on suitcase long ways in the overhead compartment; then your smaller bag can stay with you at your feet.

Airline Passenger 2

Be Flexible with Seating

If you are traveling by yourself and a family asks you to move to accommodate a family with a child, consider moving. However, if you have paid for a premium seat, it is understandable if you do not want to move. Out of respect for the pilot and flight attendant, however, listen to all announcements and do not make any seat switches until the after the plane has boarded and is prepared for takeoff.

Whether these tips are common sense to you or new knowledge, you will fly with no problems if you just remember to treat everyone with respect. When flying within a closed space, try to respect people’s privacy, personal space, and just be kind and polite.


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