Proper Airplane Etiquette

You just wrestled your way past the herd of angry travelers at the security check and finally have your seat on the plane. But before you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight, follow these 3 easy do’s and don’ts for proper in-flight etiquette.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #174

This past week, I traveled to Florida to visit family with my wife and three-year-old daughter.  I was not surprised to see that airport manners are as absent as music on MTV. If wrestling your way through the bizarre rules of the security check-in line isn’t bad enough, it’s INSIDE the plane that poor etiquette is best on display. And when I say best, I mean best for me as an etiquette writer, but not so much for all of us that have to put up with poor manners while flying.

Proper In-Flight Etiquette

Unlike decades ago, when air travel was considered a luxury, today’s in-flight experience is more like a trip to the DMV, or having your teeth pulled without Novocain, or the tragic news that Snooki is now being paid to speak at college graduations (REALLY?!?!).  However, all the bad manners of in-flight travel can quickly be resolved with a little patience and a lot of good will.

So with that, you are all safe to move about the cabin and check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for proper in-flight travel:

Tip #1 – It’s a Seat, Not a Bed

My wife will be the first one to tell you that I fall asleep on planes – even before take off. She’ll probably also tell you that I snore. Guilty. However, whether you snore, twitch, or sing show tunes in your sleep, your seat is not a bed – and neither is the seat next to you.  And don’t get me started on the rules of the armrest. How many times have you had to sit next to someone, see them falling asleep, and next thing you know, they’re planted face down on your tray?

I’m not saying that you can’t sleep on a plane. But if you are going to nap, the proper way to catch some Zs is to remain in your area. Don’t lounge over anyone else. Don’t hog the armrest like a football and don’t rest your head on a stranger’s shoulder. I’ve seen this countless times and it’s just awful. If you know for sure you are going to fall asleep ahead of time, try to get a seat by the window. This way, you have something to lean against that’s not going to resent you. If you are unfortunate enough to have someone else designate you as their new pillow, the proper thing to do is to wake them and let them know they are in your space. There is nothing wrong or unmannerly about doing this. Don’t rattle, shake, or otherwise manhandle them – just kindly tap them and ask them to please remain in their area.

Tip #2 – Kids Will be Kids, But There is a Limit

This past weekend, on my flight back, I traveled with my brother and his two-year-old daughter. So, between the two of us we had two very active toddlers who enjoy nothing more than NOT sleeping on a plane.  In addition, there was an infant 3 rows behind me. I’m 100% positive that when the rest of the travelers saw me, my brother, and the guy behind me coming onto the plane with all of our kids, they prayed not to have to sit by us.  Do I blame them? Not really. I’m not so blind as to think that kids aren’t tough to handle on planes. Regardless of how cute and cuddly they are, nothing can disturb you more than a toy being tossed at your face from across the row or, my favorite, having a child play soccer with the back of your seat.