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Flight Etiquette: How Do You Measure Up?

Posted by Natasha Jervis on 27 June 2011

We all tend to think we are polite, charming and fault-free when we fly the open skies, but let’s take a look at how we really measure up to other frequent flyers with regards to flight etiquette.  It isn't just about allowing someone to cross over you to get to the aisle and passing a person’s peanuts to them anymore.

Flight etiquette professionals are considerate to their fellow blue sky travelers because they hope to receive the same respect in return.   Throughout the years flight crews have witnessed some of the silliest passenger scenarios, from armrest thieving villains to rude reclining seat avengers.  

If flight etiquette was the law then we would all be better off.  While it remains an unwritten law, there are some basic flight etiquette rules you can take into account when you are on your last minute flight to Europe or flying the red eye to New York.  Now let’s see where you measure up in the flight etiquette department.  Here are the top unwritten rules of air travel and flight etiquette when flying above and beyond.

Close Encounters of the Flying Kind

You are already in a confined space, so why make it smaller than it has to be. Try giving yourself and others as much space as utterly possible. Do you really need those two inches of seat reclining action?  If you feel it is necessary for you to recline your seat, take the time to look behind you to access the scenario. The passenger might have a seat tray filled with food, a baby in their lap or they might be super tall and twisted in a pretzel-like fashion. The best option for this situation is to ask the passenger behind you if it is ok to recline your chair.

Worst case scenario: You recline without checking and you find that you are facing a rather large 6 foot 8 angry man, hugging a crying baby and who is covered in apple sauce. Your call.

Armrest Wars

When you sit in your passenger seat after boarding the plane, do you immediately claim your armrest? Do you claim both? Yes, you are entitled to at least one armrest with your boarding pass, but if you are constantly battling it out for both armrests, consider that you might have a control issue.  All flight passengers need to practice a little ‘give and take’ in this scenario. If your neighbouring passenger possesses flight etiquette, most likely they will share the second armrest throughout the flight. It also depends on the window seat flyer and how much they battle it out for a little comfort.  Let the armrest wars begin.

*Take Note: Armrests were invented to break up each seat space, not to add ultimate comfort for passengers.

The Difference between Small Talk and a Chatty Cathy

Do you tend to tell your life story to people you have just met? Do you continue talking even though they have tried to escape your clutches by putting on head phones? If you are a natural chatterbox, take it down a notch when in-flight. Many passengers are trying to escape to exotic lands of peace and tranquility, preparing for their next meeting or attempting to find some down time before arriving in their next destination.

Pick up on the in-flight vibes that your fellow passengers give you. If they have a book, laptop, head phones or a DVD player with them, most likely they are not interested in starting up a major conversation.  Light chit chat across tray tables is polite and just the right amount during a short or long haul flight. If you both seem interested in taking the conversation further, by all means, go for it.  Just remember to read the signs of your fellow passengers before unleashing family photos that include pictures of your dog ‘Butch’ performing his famous circus tricks.


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