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10 Ways To Be a Lady/Gentleman On A Plane

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10 Ways To Be a Lady/Gentleman On A Plane

You know the problem. People in airplanes behave as if they were sitting at home in their comfortable lounge rooms! The reality is that there is extremely limited space. That’s where the aggro starts. As the airlines squash more people in, people’s manners plummet to unbelievable depths. It would help if airlines could make an announcement such as, “We have a very crowded flight today folks. Please be kind to your neighbor.”

Here are 10 tips to make sure that you follow basic in-flight etiquette. Just keep your fingers crossed that your fellow passengers have also read this post!

“To do nothing that can either annoy or offend the sensibilities of others, sums up the principal rules for conduct under all circumstances—whether staying at home or traveling.” Emily Post, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, 1922

1. Use the bin space properly

Everyone nowadays tries to carry as much as possible on board. The problem arises when the overhead bin is chock full of luggage. One of the reasons may be that a person has stored their bag horizontally, rather than vertically. If you are actually carrying two bags, the smaller one might be able to fit under your feet.

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2.  Kids can be a pain

Children may misbehave because they get bored and restless since there is simply no space to play. The best thing to do is to avoid reprimanding the child and quietly ask the parents to keep their kids in check. Kicking the back of a seat is a big problem. It’s like children are drawn magnetically to it. Try to catch the parents’ and kid’s eyes by looking back. If that does not work, ask the parents politely to keep the kicking in check. Failing that, you may have to ask the flight attendant to do something.

It is also best to avoid playing the parenting police role. Resist giving advice on how you would bring up kids. Nobody is really interested.

3. To recline or not to recline…

The vexed question of reclining seats, and the trouble they cause, is a major headache for everybody – including the airlines. Ryanair decided to block all their seats so the reclining issue is no longer a problem. One survey showed that 90% of travellers want them blocked. Until this happens, here are three golden rules to follow

  • Keep it upright during mealtimes.
  • Warn the passenger behind you that you are about to recline.
  • Ease the seat into the reclining position, gradually and gently.

If you are on an overnight flight, it is usual practice and normally accepted that seats can be reclined as people attempt to get some shut eye. Just try and wait until the lights are switched off.

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4. Who gets the armrest when in the middle seat?

This is a tricky one. One survey, carried out by the Wall Street Journal, asked a panel of six experts what was the correct etiquette in this delicate situation. The majority of them (5 out of 6) agreed that the passenger in the middle seat should have access to both armrests. The reason is that they have no extra space to stretch their legs, or even rest their heads. Let’s stay positive here – at least their arms will be reasonably comfortable. Be kind, remember your cramped neighbor.

5. Try to program toilet breaks on a long flight

You may be in the window or middle seat and need a bathroom break urgently. The only problem is that the aisle passenger is sound asleep. Normal etiquette would be to wake them gently and ask if they can move their slumbering frame to help you get past.

If you are in the aisle seat on a long haul flight, it is a good idea to politely tell your fellow row passengers that you are going to sleep. Ask if they would like to get out before you settle down. They’ll appreciate the gesture.

6. Don’t blame the flight attendants for everything

No, they did not decide the menu, the distance between seats, the rules about electronics, and all the other things they are forced to tell you. They took no part in deciding schedules, prices or the foul weather; so there is no need to vent your anger and frustration at them.

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Normal etiquette means that you should not talk loudly while they have to go through the safety drill. Respect their job, and maybe they’ll be more likely to meet your request for a fluffier pillow.

7. Keep your odors under control

Strange as it may seem, body odors do cause discomfort. Not just natural body odor,  but also strong perfumes and colognes. These smells can make life miserable for some passengers. The same goes for carrying on board some rather smelly food, such as: onions, fish, garlic, egg salad, (tasty) ethnic dishes, and bacon (because… hungry). If everyone ate before boarding, this would not be a problem. Ah, wishful thinking!

8. What’s the rush?

Ever notice the stampede when you have to board? No one enjoys that uncomfortable edging and nudging when you have to get off the plane. Why the mad rush to get off? I know the flight was not that comfortable, but is a few minutes going to change your life? Leave the plane in a courteous and orderly fashion. You might even let that senior pass in front of you… for once. Doing good deeds in planes also counts towards getting into Paradise!

9. Use your body sensors

Bering aware of the size of your body, and the way you swing around your luggage helps enormously in avoiding nasty accidents. I once watched a close call, as a woman whipped past an unfortunate passenger, unaware of how close her shoulder bag was to hurting the man in the aisle seat. The man’s glasses fell into the aisle. Luckily, they were not broken!

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10. Silence is golden

Do not assume that everyone wants to chat. Some people want to sleep or listen to their favorite music. Etiquette demands that you listen to your movies or music with your headphones at a reasonable volume. Being next to a passenger is not the same as being in the same room at home!

Do you have you any in-flight horror stories to tell about passengers’ bad manners which made your journey a living Hell?

Let us hear about them in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Flight attendants are pretty cute too/Tom Purves via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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