Flying can be a stressful experience, and sometimes it’s our fellow passengers who make it even more challenging. From seat swapping to inconsiderate reclining, here are some flying etiquette tips from Jo Bryant, a leading etiquette expert, to help improve the overall flying experience.
Passengers often request seat swaps before takeoff. Jo suggests that simply disliking your seat isn’t a good reason enough to ask for a change.
Validating your request, such as due to being tall and needing extra legroom, is more acceptable. If swapping isn’t possible, accept it gracefully with a smile.
Shoes on or Off?
Shoes off can be a contentious issue. While keeping your shoes on is considered better manners, for longer flights, taking them off may be acceptable.
However, ensure your feet are presentable and odor-free, and never rest them on the seat or armrest in front. Also, don’t walk to the bathroom with your shoes off!
Smooth Passage Through Security
Disorganization at security checkpoints can frustrate fellow travelers. Jo advises being well-prepared to get through smoothly and quickly.
Know where your electronics are, have liquids bagged, and clear your pockets in advance. Avoid rummaging through your bag or setting off detectors due to overlooked items.
The rush to board is a matter of personal preference. Whether you prefer to queue promptly or board later, respect personal space and be orderly.
Boarding late disrupts the flight and isn’t considered polite, but it’s not very nice to push your way in front of people to get where you want to go, either.
Chatting and Smelly Food
Initiating small talk with your seatmate can be polite, but read their body language to gauge their interest. Respect personal space and sociability levels, offering assistance when needed.
Strong-smelling food in the confined space of an aircraft can be as unpleasant as unwanted small talk. Jo suggests refraining from bringing stinky sandwiches or fast food on board, as it’s inconsiderate to fellow passengers.
Rules for Reclining
Inconsiderate seat reclining can lead to spilled drinks and strained relations. Jo advises not reclining immediately after takeoff or during drink/mealtimes.
Wait until the cabin lights dim and quiet time begins, moving back to an upright position during busier periods to give the person behind you more space.
Clapping and Deboarding
Applauding during landing is unnecessary and can be perceived as rude to the pilots. Clapping may suggest surprise at the pilots’ skill in a good landing or be insultingly sarcastic in response to a rough landing.
When it comes to getting off of the plane, being the first off can be a mission for some passengers. To avoid pushing or barging, consider selecting a seat near the door. When it’s time to disembark, wait your turn, pack your things, and assist others in reaching for their belongings in overhead lockers.