Airplane and Airport Etiquette: How Are Your Manners?
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Airplane and Airport Etiquette: How Are Your Manners?

This article details helpful tips for flying. Check - and improve - your manners while at the airport, boarding the plane, and during your flight. It's Airplane etiquette 101!

Why is it that common courtesy and etiquette seem to elude some people once they step foot into an airport or onto an airplane?  We've all experienced it - and may have even been guilty on occasion.  But, whether you travel by air infrequently while on vacation, or on a regular basis for work, it is important to heed some basic rules of etiquette that will make your trip - and your fellow passengers' -  more tolerable.  You might even find that you can enjoy your flight!  This article will give you some tips to ensure your airplane and airport manners are up to par.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Etiquette At the Airport

1.  Heed the Loading Zone Only, No Parking and No Stopping areas at the airport.  This small courtesy will decrease congestion around the entrances and you'll avoid getting a nasty fine.

2.  Arrive early.  When you are rushed for time, the likely hood of impinging on others is greater than if you allow plenty of time to get through the lineup, make sure your baggage is tagged, and know where you need to board the plane.  No one likes a pushy person budging in front of him or having their shins rammed by a baggage trolley.  Arrive no later than 1 1/2 hour before a flight within your own country, and no later than 2 hours before International flights.  (Suggested arrival time will be indicated when you book your flight.)  If the airport is particularly large, or if you are unfamiliar with it, you may want to allow even more time.

3.  Control your baggage trolley (cart) and wheeled baggage.  Although sometimes baggage trollies seem to have a mind of their own, be courteous when pushing it through a crowd. . . and look where you are going!  It is much like heeding the rules of the road while driving.  Once, although I tried to get out of the way (without running into someone else), I had my leg slammed with a woman's heavy luggage because she was staring off in another direction while continuing to push her trolley.  Ouch!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

4.  Apprise yourself beforehand what items you are allowed to carry on board the plane.  This will speed things up while going through security, and decrease the waiting time for everyone.  In the past few years, this list has changed and may be different according to country of origin.  In Canada, for example, bottled lotions and gels, etc. must be 100 mL or less (click here for detailed list).  Also, lotions, gels, and most cosmetics must be placed into a sealable plastic bag. 

5.  Be patient!  Undoubtedly there will be waiting times, but try to remain respectful and courteous to staff and passengers alike, even when there is an unexpected delay.  Mouthing off (I've heard more than a few rude people!) will only make you appear foolish.  Bring a book, magazine, crossword puzzle, etc. to pass the time.

Etiquette On Board the Airplane

1.  While boarding the airplane, store your carry-on luggage as quickly as you can.  While you may be tempted to stand in the isle and rummage through your baggage before you sit down, this does impede other passengers who are trying to find their seats.  To expedite boarding, follow these tips:

  • if you have an isle seat, just stow your bags, and wait until everyone has been seated before you take the time to retrieve what you need;
  • if you will be seated in the middle of people or by the window, decide beforehand what you would like to occupy your time with during the flight; have this already on your person, or in a convenient outside zipper of your baggage so you can quickly retrieve it before stowing your bag;
  • if possible, only take a small carry-on bag that can be stored under your seat, so you will not have to disturb others when you need to get something from it.

2.  Be respectful of other passengers' personal space.  The following tips will illustrate this point:

  • there is only one armrest between each seat. . . so don't sprawl out over both armrests on either side of you;
  • if you like to sleep during the flight, try using a neck pillow to keep you more upright, and less likely to lean over onto your fellow seat mate;
  • if someone next to you is trying to sleep, they probably really need the rest - try to keep your voice low, and use ear buds or headphones while listening to music or TV;  Image Credit:  Stock.xchng
  • if the person next to you shows no signs of wanting to chat, respect that by not talking incessantly at them; however, those of you who are the silent type, remember to be polite enough to accept a friendly salutation from the person seated next to you.  It just might make the journey more enjoyable!
  • try to limit the number of times you get out of your seat during the flight, especially if you have to climb over people's legs.  If you are prepared before the flight (use the washroom just prior to boarding, decide what you want with you at your seat, etc.), then you can avoid unnecessary clambering about during the flight.  (If the flight is very lengthy, undoubtedly you will need to get up to the washroom or to stretch your legs - just remember to be thoughtful and courteous).

3.  Heed the "no cell phone use" and "stay seated" lights, and all admonitions given by the flight attendants.  This is for your - and everyone's - safety.

Image Credit:  Stock.xchng

4.  Put the "Golden Rule"  to work.  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  It really is that simple.

5.  Be patient - again!  By the time the airplane lands, most people are very eager to get off the plane ASAP.  While this is understandable, also understand that it will require waiting. . . for everyone to put their stuff away, retrieve their bags, and slowly file out one by one.  Try not to dawdle while getting your own things together, and always be thoughtful and respectful of other people and their belongings.

With a little preparation and being mindful of our manners, it is possible to have a less stressful and more enjoyable experience while traveling by airplane - and while traveling through the airport.  Hopefully, these few tips can help you chart a happy course!

Main Image credit:  Stock.xchng

© Sharla Smith, November 2011

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Comments (16)

Well done!

Good tips for people to be aware of both at the airport and when boarding the plane.

Very useful guidelines especially here in my country.

Excellent tips

Thank you everyone for your votes and comments. I always appreciate your input!

These are useful and great guides to travelers.

Thanks, Sir Guims!

Great tips on travel...Thanks...voted up!

Thank you so much, Jessie.

thank you so much for sharing this information. i hope that all travelers read, understand and most of all respect them. great article.

Glad you enjoyed my article, Sharron. Thanks for reading!

Great tips for travelers. Gave your article a +1.

great work

Thanks to you both, Graciela and Tamrh.

Excellent tips my friend. I don\'t travel very often but I always see people coming to the airport without their manners. I have no votes but buzzing this up.

Hi Chris, thanks so much for your support and for reading.  P.S.  Happy New Year!

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