As you all know, I travel quite a bit lately. Approximately every two to three weeks via airplane. And I must say, these past seven months that Corey has been living in New Jersey, I have met some pretty interesting folks.
I have come up with Travel Etiquette According to Elizabeth. (i.e. you can take what you please away from this, it is only my
Rule 1: Greet your neighbor.
When you board the plane, smile and say hello to the people sitting next to you. Even if you are cranky. You don't have to strike up a full-on conversation for the duration of the flight but you do have to sit three inches away from the people on either side of you for several hours. Acknowledge their existence and start the flight off on a good note.
Rule 2: Follow the flight attendants' directions.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to a teenage girl on the plane on the way back from New Jersey on Sunday. She refused to power off her cell phone the first two times the flight attendant asked because she was in a text war with some boy named Kevin. Then the flight attendant stood over her until she turned it off and put it away in her bag. THEN, as we were taxiing she pulls it back out to continue the conversation. Crew members tell us (as well as a recent study) that cell phones interfere with air traffic control communication. Don't make your neighbor have heart palpitations because you couldn't stop texting your boyfriend.
Rule 3: If it isn't yours, ask before you move it.
On my way to New Jersey on Friday, I was sitting next to a businessman and he had only flown into Charlotte for a couple days. He boarded with just a suit jacket and a duffel bag and placed them in the overhead bin. By the time Zone 4 loads, overhead bin space is limited and a woman decided to take this gentleman's belongings out of the overhead bin and stuff them between two other suitcases to make room for her own things. If it doesn't belong to you, you should not relocate a bag to serve your own storage needs without asking the owner. It is such a pain to track down your bag if 1.) you don't know where it is and 2.) it ends up being placed behind you when there are one hundred people trying to move forwards off the plane. Be courteous of people's belongings.
Rule 4: Make room for others' belongings.
Anyone who has flown in the last two or so years knows that flights are almost always full now and that more people are carrying on luggage to avoid the standard $50 per checked bag charge. Flight attendants ask passengers to put their smaller items under the seat in front of them. And for some reason people tend to ignore this simple request. Leg room is unfortunately limited and I understand everyone's desire to try to maximize it. Yet, just because someone was randomly assigned to Zone 5 boarding, doesn't mean they don't deserve for their bag to be on board if at all possible. Purses and tote bags can fit under the seat in front of you. Please, do us all a favor, and put them there! Also, let's check those oversized bags. If you get that bag that you honestly know is too big past the gate attendant, don't smile and think you've "pulled one over" on them. Remember that you are only inconveniencing another passenger.
Rule 5: Make room for others.
This is a little bit of a sensitive topic. You may remember my post about my middle-seat experience on a flight several weeks ago. Whether you choose to put the armrest down or not, the person next to you deserves the space on the other side of that armrest. All of it. They did pay for an entire seat. Please refrain from spreading out pillows or blankets and invading their space. If you feel cramped and often find yourself elbowing your neighbor or feel like you or your belongings are invading their space, simply request an aisle seat.
Rule 6: Look behind you before you lean your seat back.
It really is a pet peeve of mine, when I'm scrunched in the middle seat with elbows coming at me from all directions and then, the person in front of me pushes their seat back as hard as they can. This leaves me with approximately two square feet of space and splashes my coffee that was on the tray table everywhere. Glance behind you and make sure you aren't going to bump into the person or spill something if you lean your seat back. Then please do so slowly. It also never hurts to lean back and ask the person if they mind if you lean your seat back. Of course they should say yes and you do have the right to lean back and take a nap if you please - however if you are courteous and polite it does make the scrunched person behind you feel much better.
Rule 7: Keep in-flight grooming to an appropriate level.
I'll admit I've been known to powder my nose or reapply my lipgloss in flight on occasion. Especially when I have an immediate dinner reservation with Corey as soon as I arrive. However, grooming in flight should be kept to an appropriate level. This means, please do not pick lint or dandruff from your outfit so that it falls on the person sitting next to you and please do not reapply deodorant or heaven forbid floss your teeth at your seat. Just go to the restroom - some things should be done in private.
Rule 8: Reserve PDA for somewhere else.
Its totally ok, in my opinion, to hold hands with your sweetie, give them a couple quick smooches, or lean your head against the shoulder. However, a plane ride is not a private moment. Let's keep the makeout sessions and intense PDA at bay until you reach your destination.
Rule 9: Keep in-flight conversation to an appropriate level.
I love when I meet a nice person on a flight and am able to have a good conversation to entertain myself. However, these people are strangers! Everything is not meant to be shared - especially with strangers. Some examples of what I consider off-limit topics: relationship drama (think Rachel from Friends on the flight to Ross and Emily's wedding), family drama, drug/alcohol use (not everyone partakes in these and it can make people pretty uncomfortable), political debates, and your sex life or lack there of.
Rule 10: Remember not everyone wants to have a conversation.
Piggybacking off Rule 9, remember that not everyone wants to have a conversation of a flight. I love to talk to my neighbor but not everyone feels that way. If your neighbor doesn't seem interested in having a conversation or are being very short with you, don't continue to force the conversation just because they are your captive audience. Try to pack a book, magazine, or your iPod in your carry on so you can entertain yourself.
So here they are, my ten rules of airplane etiquette based on my experiences with frequent flying these past several months. I'm sure you all are perfectly courteous when on a plane but nevertheless, these are things that I think are worth thinking about when you have 100-200 people in such close quarters.
All images found via Google images.
© 2011 Elizabeth A. Lee and Life with Elizabeth Blog