As much fun as travel can be, sometimes the “getting there” part can be quite trying on your patience if a bit of travel etiquette isn’t applied. With air travel incredibly hitting all-time highs and airlines squeezing as many humans in as they possibly can, it’s almost of the essence to be exceptionally polite and respectful, even though it might seem you’re the only one who read the memo. Here are a few travel etiquette tips that could help weather a trip long or short. And pass them on—they just might make the travel world a little friendlier!
If you’re checking in a bag, get a reasonable guesstimate of the weight before you go to the airport. You shouldn’t have to hold up the proceedings with an overweight bag “emergency.” There’s nothing more annoying than someone with an open suitcase at the ticket counter frantically pulling things out and asking for a plastic bag. If you think your bag is borderline heavy, by all means, bring a carry-on with room in it and have a few things packed at the very top of your suitcase that you can pull out quickly to bring down the weight. Speaking of carry-on, be as organized as possible, with your liquids in bags and whatever you’ll want in your seat all in one place.
Be aware of how the line is moving when you’re checking in. Get off your phone and pay attention as you get to the head of the line so you can go right to the next available agent or self-check-in booth. Be aware at the gate for when they call your boarding group—and don’t crowd around the gateway until it’s your turn. Don’t worry: everyone’s getting on board.
Stash It And Move It
Find your seat as quickly as possible, stash your stuff as quickly as possible and get out of the way. Now is not the time to pick and choose the things you need from your overhead bin bag (see Be Organized—but if you really need to dive in and root around in your gear, step out of the aisle so the rest of the crowd can make its way to the end of the plane. Oh, and make sure your carry-on is not too heavy for you to put in the overhead bin without help. Flight attendants aren’t allowed to help and you can’t always depend on the kindness of strangers.
If You’re Bringing Food On Board…
Please consider everyone else’s nose. Intense aromas—onions, garlic, blue cheese, heavy-duty grease—are multiplied in an enclosed space with re-circulating air. That goes double for tuna fish sandwiches.
Keep It Down
Brought your music? By all means, enjoy it, but keep the volume down to a reasonably normal level—even on your headphones. Trust us: the sound leaks out, especially the bass. And if you’re seated next to someone who wants to chat and the feeling is mutual, please don’t be that person who includes the two rows in front and behind in your conversation.
To flight attendants, to your seatmates, to everyone around you… It truly doesn’t cost a dime to be friendly, especially to people you depend on to help you in case of an emergency (i.e., the flight attendants). And being polite is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary.
A few notes on seats: if you want to sleep, think of the person behind you. Recline slowly in case they have a drink on their tray table. If you’re getting up, avoid grabbing the back of the seat in front of you as much as possible—there’s someone sitting in it and they won’t appreciate being pulled back. Many people don’t know about the “middle seat rule”—that person gets the armrests to make up for being squished in there. If you’re lucky enough not to be stuck there, be graceful and give that person one of your armrests. If you luck out even more and the middle seat is empty between you and another passenger, think of it as shared space, don’t hog it. And please, don’t crowd other people’s seats or that very valuable legroom in front of it by “manspreading” or crossing your feet into their space.