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Flying etiquette – the dos and don’ts of air travel

posted August 25, 2017


Flying etiquette

Going on a trip of a lifetime should be one of the most enjoyable experiences there is. But with more regulations and security measures – as well as planes taking more passengers than ever before – sometimes flying becomes challenging.

Delays, overcrowding and armrest jostling are just some of the major pet hates for travellers. If you are flying to Canada this year you should take a look at our guide, which with the help of some seasoned travellers, lists the manners you should follow when you fly – and the ones you shouldn’t.

Pet hates while travelling

There are many bugbears for travellers so make sure you don’t fall into these traps while travelling.

Getting up whilst the fasten seat belt sign is still on

Fasten seat belt

Paul Johnson, who is the editor of A Luxury Travel Blog, says he really dislikes when people get up while the seat belt sign is still on during landing.

He says, “My pet hate is people getting up out of their seats on landing despite the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign still being illuminated. The same applies to people switching on their mobile phones and making calls despite being told not to do so until they are in the terminal building. Regardless of whether you feel the rules are relevant, just have some respect and stop thinking that rules are for everyone except you!”

Cutting everybody off after landing

Getting up and then cutting everybody off that is seated ahead is something to avoid.

Annette White from the Bucketlist Journey, adds, “One of my biggest pet peeves while traveling happens right after the plane lands. People stand, yank their carry-on from the overhead bin and rush to the front, cutting off everybody seated ahead of them. Please, exit in an orderly fashion! The lucky people will be waiting at the luggage carousel two-minutes before me.”

Bringing fast food onto the plane

Don’t bring fast food onto the plane

It is quite common to go and grab some food for the plane, whether it is some snacks or some fast food meals, but this is a common pet peeve for your fellow travellers.

Alex Reynolds, from Lost With Purpose, says, “Please, please, please finish your fast food before you get on the plane. No one wants to sit in a plane that smells like a deep fat fryer.”

When families are separated

Families being separated is a pet peeve

If you are going on holiday with the family, it can be a nuisance when your family is split up and this is one of the biggest gripes that Sharon Gourlay, who runs the Where’s Sharon blog, has.

She says, “My major pet peeve when I fly is when airlines separate families booked under the same reservation. I can’t understand why they do this. I’m sure no one wants to be sitting next to someone else’s kids on a long flight.”

Sitting in the wrong seat

Sitting in the wrong seat is a common pet hate and you should always double check that you are in the correct seat.

Alex, who runs the Lost with Purpose site, says, “When people treat seating assignments as a suggestion, rather than a rule. If your seat was optional, it wouldn’t be given in the first place! And no, you can’t have my window seat.”

Grabbing the seat as you get up

Another action that can be deemed as rude by your fellow passengers is grabbing the seat in front as you get up.

Keith Paul from Retire Early and Travel, says, “My biggest pet peeve is when the passengers behind you grab your seat back to get up or sit down. It tends to happen when I am sleeping or just going to take a drink. The same goes for the people who walk down the aisle and have to “hand walk” on people’s seatbacks.”

Armrest jostling

Armrest jostling

Another common gripe that occurs during a flight is over the armrest; we all like our space and to kick back and relax during a flight.

Although it is generally considered that the passenger sat in the middle of a three seat plan should get both armrests, it is still a bone of contention for passengers.

Sharron from The Travel Magazine, says she would love to change the design of having a single armrest in the middle of the three seats.

She adds, “If I could change anything it would be the design of having a single armrest for the middle seats in a three-seat setup on a plane.

“For me ending up there is a sign of bad planning and must be avoided at all costs. Yet sometimes it happens.

“The shared armrest scenario means that the person in the middle is at a disadvantage: no window, no easy aisle access and the extra roominess that goes with it and faces playing armrest shuffle with the two passengers on either side. With no arm space, the middle man ends up with a very uncomfortable ride.

“Since the people on either side have an armrest to themselves, the person in the middle should have first bids on the two armrests in the middle.”

Having to turn on roaming data for WiFi

Turning your roaming data off is usually one of the first things you should do once you have arrived at your destination as this can save large bills on your mobile phone whilst you are away, but some airlines ask you to turn your roaming data on to use the WiFi.

This is a pet hate for Anton Diaz, who runs the Our Awesome Planet blog. He says “I hate it when the WiFi connection requires you to open your roaming to get a confirmation code. Why can’t they make WiFi available hassle-free in all the major airports?”

How you should act whilst travelling

So the aforementioned points are ones you should avoid doing as you travel, but here are some tips you should follow to be seen as a considerate traveller.

Be polite and respectful to fellow passengers

Flights to Vancouver from London take around nine hours and 45 minutes, so being polite to your fellow passengers is a wise idea as you will be sitting next to them for quite a while.

Annette from the Bucketlist Journey says, “People should be respectful whether in-flight or on the ground. With that said, if you want your fellow passengers to be really impressed by your courtesy, there are some etiquette rules to follow in the air. Here are a few of the biggies:

–  When boarding, get out of the aisle as quick as possible. Don’t stand in the middle blocking others from passing while you are rummaging for headphones in your bag or organising your travel documents — step inside of a row.

–  Let the person in the middle seat have the armrests.

–  Don’t allow your children to consistently bounce back and forth or kick the seat ahead of them.

Paul from A Luxury Travel Blog says, “Being civil and polite to your fellow passengers and crew should always be at the forefront. If your seat has the ability to recline, then you should have the right to do this but it’s common courtesy not to just lunge backwards without asking or at least checking to see if there’s a hot drink precariously poised on the table behind.”

Our Awesome Planet’s Anton Diaz agrees that you should treat your fellow travellers with respect. He adds, “Travellers should treat other travellers how they want others to treat them.

“People should respect the personal space of other travellers. A polite introduction or a smile would help out a lot to make the travel pleasant.”

Be polite to the cabin crew

Be polite to the cabin crew

On top of being polite to fellow passengers, you should also be polite and friendly to the cabin crew as they are ultimately there to help and support you.

Alex from Lost with Purpose, adds, “All flight passengers should be respectful to each other, and to the airline’s workers.”

Retire Early and Travel’s Keith Paul agrees and says, “Time your bathroom breaks to occur when the attendants are not serving food or drink. In addition, do not push the call attendant button when they are serving. They have a lot to do to get food and drink out to everyone in a timely matter. Try to let them get that done uninterrupted.”

Think ahead before going through security

A Luxury Travel editor, Paul Johnson, also recommends thinking about transferring items from your pockets to your carry-on bags before you are lining up to go through security.

He adds, “Think ahead when going through security. Transferring items from your pockets to your bag or to a coat pocket that you’re putting through the x-ray machine will enable you to go through much more smoothly. Similarly, once you’ve gone through the process, move out of the way to put your belt or shoes back on, and to re-distribute your belongings as you wish, rather than cause an obstruction.”

Respect others’ space

Whether it is the armrest or making sure your luggage doesn’t creep over into the space of your next-door neighbour, it is important to respect others’ space.

Sharon Gourlay from the Where’s Sharon blog says, “I think it’s important to respect others’ space while flying – this means not sticking your feet anywhere near their direction and not reclining your seat during meal times! I always look behind me before I recline my seat to avoid disrupting the person behind too much.”

Image Credit: Andrew Scofield.

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