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. And customers are feeling the pain: A United Airlines flight was recently forced to divert after two passengers got in a fight over a gadget called the Knee Defender that stopped one from reclining his seat.
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.
We’ve put together a list of 13 basic rules of etiquette, based on our own flying experiences and some expert opinions. Follow them, and your next flight might just be bearable — as long as everyone else follows them, too.
Alex Davies wrote an earlier version of this story.
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.
Flight attendants didn't create the rules about stowing tray tables, wearing seat belts, and restoring seatbacks before landing. Giving them a hard time is obnoxious, and can delay your takeoff.
At least the FAA ended its longstanding ban on the use of certain electronic devices during takeoff and landing late last year.
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, agrees, but told Business Insider that 'some courtesy is appropriate.' To preserve his own space, he once gave a young girl $US5 (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.
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.
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.
It's tough to get comfortable on an aeroplane, but if you're in a middle or aisle seat, leave a way for whoever is next to you to get through without waking you up. (That means you should avoid using the tray table as a headrest.)
You may want to invest in a neck pillow to avoid winding up snoozing on your neighbour's shoulder.
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