Photo: Ma1974 / Creative Commons
The reality of air travel in the 21st century is that flying economy is unpleasant.Airlines are cutting service and packing planes to improve razor thin profit margins, while flights aren’t getting any shorter.
If you don’t have the cash or the points to secure an upgrade, there are ways to make flying more pleasant, but they depend on everyone’s cooperation.
To play your part, we’ve put together a list of 13 basic rules of etiquette, based on our own flying experiences and some expert opinions.
They cover everything from how to get through security, to whether or not you should recline your seat, to getting off the plane politely and efficiently.
Follow them, and your flight might just be bearable — as long as everyone else does, too.
This is all about thinking a few steps ahead, so you get through the screening process as quickly as possible.
Before you get to the x-ray machine, take everything out of your pockets. Put it all in your bag, or the pocket of a coat that you'll put through the machine.
When you belongings come out, collect them quickly and move to a spot where you're not blocking anyone. Then you can put your shoes and belt on.
In the era of checked bag fees, carry-on space is at a premium. If you have two carry-on bags, keep the smaller one at your feet.
And, as the flight attendants will likely remind you, don't take up someone else's space by putting your bag in the bin horizontally.
The ban on the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing may be absurd (and soon to be done away with) but that doesn't mean it's not a rule.
Furthermore, the flight attendants didn't create it. Giving them a hard time is obnoxious, and just delays the plane getting to cruising altitude, when you can finally get back to Words with Friends.
The right to recline one's seat is a topic of debate, but we say, if the seat goes back, take advantage.
Gary Leff, who writes the blog View from the Wing, argees, but told Business Insider that 'some courtesy is appropriate.' To preserve his own space, he once gave a young girl $5 (with her mother's permission) in exchange for not reclining her seat, an original solution.
If you don't want to open your wallet, make sure to look behind you before you recline. Maybe warn the fellow traveller whose space you are about to invade, so they can hang onto their drink or adjust their laptop.
And stay upright during meals.
Both flights and misbehaving children can induce headaches. Together, they are almost certain to.
Parents, make an extra effort to keep your kids in check. You may be exhausted, but they are your responsibility.
For passengers with complaints: Talk to the parents, don't scold the kid. It's not your place to correct the behaviour of a stranger's child, and you're likely to annoy the only people who can stop the kicking of your seat.
NBC Travel columnist James Wysong adds a plea for patience: 'Have a heart. Sometimes kids just unravel -- no matter how hard you try. Besides, you were a kid once, too.'
Having a few drinks is a fine way to pass the time, but keep yourself in check.
You open the door to annoying everyone around you, reeking of booze, and needing to get up to use the lavatory every 20 minutes.
And you could end up like the Icelandair passenger who was taped to his seat after drunkenly grabbing women, choking other passengers, and screaming that the plane was going to crash.
Unlike the passengers in the aisle or window seats, whoever's in the middle seat has no room to stretch their feet or rest their head.
In our opinion, it's only fair to yield them both of the armrests. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal asked a panel of six experts to weigh in: five agreed with our take.
Only etiquette expert Anne Post disagreed: 'There is no innate winner of the arm-rest battle. If I'm in the middle seat, I try to claim one. They are not both yours for the duration.'
Obviously, bad body odor is a terrible thing to inflict on your fellow passengers. Take a shower before heading to the airport if possible, and use deodorant.
But keep in mind that overly strong cologne or perfume can be as unpleasant as BO in close quarters.
If you feel like striking up a conversation, go ahead. You can meet new and interesting people, and maybe make the experience of air travel a bit more pleasant.
But if the other person is clearly not engaged, let it drop: Many people just want to endure the flight in silence, but will likely be too polite to just ignore you.
On the other hand, if someone starts talking to you and you don't feel like chatting, be polite, but make it clear you have other things to do.
You can open a book, slowly put your headphones on, or just conk out.
NBC's Wyson makes another point: Even if you and your neighbour are having a great chat, your neighbours may not appreciate it: 'If your conversation with a willing neighbour goes on for more than 10 minutes, take it to the back of the aeroplane.'
Think ahead when planning your bathroom breaks. If you see a flight attendant with a cart in the aisle, stay put.
You could easily end up with the cart between you and your seat. Depending on the flight attendant, you'll be stuck in the aisle until the service is complete, or delay service so the cart can back up and you can sit back down.
It goes without saying that getting up before the dinner trays have been collected is taboo.
If you're in the aisle or middle seat, sitting like this is unacceptable. You leave whoever is next to you but no choice to wake you up if they need to get into the aisle.
This one's simple: Don't take a lot of time, and don't make a mess. There are probably people waiting to get in there, and they deserve a clean lavatory as much as you do.
That being said, the lavatory is unlikely to be very clean, which brings up another point: Don't try to join the Mile High Club. Not only is it inappropriate, you're exposing yourself to germs.
An a flight attendant said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything, 'Let me tell you something, those toilets are FILTHY. Absolute FILTH.'
Remember that everyone is as eager to get off the plane as you are. Don't crowd into the aisle if there isn't room, and let everyone ahead of you get out before making a move.
You'll have plenty of time to prepare before it's your turn to exit, so make sure you have everything, and that you don't take any more time than you need to.
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