Flights Travel Tips

Airplane Etiquette: How NOT to be a Jerk on an Airplane

Written by Amy

updated on May 18th, 2019

Airlines are cutting costs and amenities to improve profit margins. Legroom is getting tighter and flights are more often full than not. This also means that you’ll land yourself in a small space with a few hundred other people for the duration of the flight. Travel seems to occasionally bring out the worst in folks. Here comes my rant on airplane etiquette!

Airplane etiquette: Boarding the plane

Airplane etiquette

If you’ve ever flown, you’ve probably seen the giant cluster of people at the gate right when they start boarding. Everyone wants to get on first. There’s something in the boarding process that brings out the worst in people. Folks cut in line. Then once they get on the plane, they take their sweet time stashing their luggage, stretching (seriously! We saw this recently!), rearranging their seats with family across the aisle, and just generally blocking traffic for the rest of the people trying to get on. Put your bags up, sit down, and let people pass! If you forgot something in your bag, wait until the aisle is clear and then quickly get into your bag.

Airplane etiquette
Get on the plane! Keep moving!

Airplane etiquette: Reclining the seat

Right after takeoff: this is the moment that 100 collective people slam their seats backwards into the knees of the unsuspecting people behind them. I cannot fathom how they have no qualms with doing this without even the smallest consideration for who is sitting behind them. Reclining seats make the trip much, much more endurable and I think it’s fine to recline… if you don’t act like a jerk. Simple tips here.

#1- Give a quick glance backward. Make sure the person isn’t trying to work on their laptop, has water precariously perched on the tray, or is an NBA player with their knees already up against the seat. It gives people an idea that you’re coming back.

#2- Don’t recline during meal times! It’s hard to eat your meal when someone’s head is practically in your lap.

#3- Don’t slam. Would you want your knees busted unexpectedly? I didn’t think so.

Airplane etiquette: The middle seat

I’ll leave it to Jim Jefferies to explain what I thought was common sense, but from experience is not:

The poor middle seat person deserves a bit of space! Airplane armrest etiquette dictates that the person in the middle gets the armrests, because where else are they supposed to go?

Airplane etiquette: Social norms

Flying on an airplane seems to bring out the worst in some people. If you’re on an overnight flight, please keep your noise down. Chatting with a seatmate is fine, but this isn’t the time to party. It makes everyone else uncomfortable when we have to listen to your loud stories about the boils on your back or your relationship problems. And, on the same note, don’t force people to talk to you. If the stranger next to you seems engrossed in their book, or nearly asleep, let them rest! A lot of people use their flight time to catch up on work or sleep.

Nobody wants to end up on Passenger Shaming!

Finally, be kind to the flight attendants. They aren’t only there for your comfort, but also your safety. A little politeness also goes a long way, and if you need something, they’re likely to try to help.

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