12 Airplane Etiquette Tips

12 Airplane Etiquette Tips

Holiday season is approaching. No doubt you’ve already blocked out in your calendar some precious vacation time. You may have even collected some brochures of those exotic places you’d like to visit. You’re getting excited about your trip. But for many, as soon as you arrive at the airport, that excitement often turns into stress.

You see swarms of people, long lines, hectic check-in counters, and you start to feel yourself tense up with agitation and impatience. Yes, travel can be stressful – but only if you let it. If you’re organised, prepared and follow the etiquette guidelines below for air travel, you’ll feel much more relaxed throughout your trip, and you’ll help other travellers feel more relaxed too.

Here is my list of 12 etiquette guidelines for airplane travel.

1. Do Arrive On Time to Check-In

You’ll feel less stressed, more organised, and you’ll start your vacation on a positive note.

2. Do Make Sure Your Suitcase is Under the Weight Limit

A few days before your flight, check the weight limit of the airline so you can organise your clothes and not pack too much. Remember, you’ll probably want to buy some souvenirs on your trip, so leave some extra room for that. For a weight limit of about 20kg, I suggest to leave 5kg free for those extra purchases.

3. Before You Get to the Screening Point, Empty Your Pockets and Take Your Laptop Out of Your Hand Luggage

The lines at the screening point should move swiftly. Make the job of the security staff easier and place the contents of your pockets (i.e., your keys and change) inside your hand luggage. Also, take your laptop out of your hand luggage so it’s ready to be screened separately.

4. Have Your Boarding Pass and Passport Ready

When you’re standing in the line to finally board the plane, have your boarding pass and passport in your hands, ready to hand over to the airline staff. Take your passport out of its case and place your boarding card in the picture page of your passport.

5. Pay Attention When the Flight Attendants are Explaining the Safety Procedure

This is part of their job. Give them the respect they deserve – it really is for your benefit. No matter how many times you’ve flown, if an accident should happen, you’ll want that safety information in your mind as fresh as possible.

6. Recline Your Seat Carefully

The back of your seat is the view for the person behind you. It’s their space – where they eat, read, and potentially work. Be respectful of their personal space and recline your seat carefully. If the meal has been served, wait until all the tray of the person behind you has been taken away to recline your seat. And it’s always a good idea to check before you recline.

7. Don’t Spray Perfume While in Your Seat

When you’re sitting in such close proximity to others, you have to be more aware of how your actions will affect those around you. Spraying perfume while in your seat, is not advisable. Your neighbours could be allergic or sensitive to that particular scent. But, there is a solution: roll-on perfume. It’s light, travel-friendly, and won’t overpower the person sitting next to you on the plane.

8. Say “Thank you” to the Cabin Crew

Forgetting to say “thank you” when the flight attendants provide you a service is too common nowadays. Yes, it’s their job to bring you your mineral water with a twist of lime during the flight, but that’s no excuse for bad manners. If you don’t want your drink to arrive 30 minutes late, be polite to the cabin crew during your flight and say “thank you”.

9. Take Your Headset Off When Talking to the Flight Attendants

This is basic courtesy. You will not be able to hear the flight attendants properly with your headset on. Even if you’ve turned the volume down, it’s simply disrespectful to talk to another person with your headset covering your ears. Show the flight attendants respect and remove your headset when talking to them.

10. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

When you’re in the air, alcohol will affect you much more quickly than when you’re on the ground. Personally, I never drink alcohol when I’m flying. I drink only water, tomato juice and tea. When you’re flying across time zones it’s hard enough on your body to adapt to the time change – you don’t want to make it even harder with a hangover or dehydration.

11. Consider Your Body Odour and Foot Odour

Inside a plane, you sit in close proximity to others for long periods of time. The slightest body odour or foot odour will be much more noticeable. Always wear deodorant. Make sure you wear a clean set of clothes for travelling, and choose a pair of shoes that will not have a bad smell if you take them off during your flight. If you do take your shoes off, always have a clean pair of hole-free socks to cover your feet.

12. Do Share the Armrests

Some etiquette experts say that the person sitting in the middle of the row has the right to the armrests on both sides. Personally, I think it’s only fair to assume one arm rest at a time – regardless if you’re in the middle of the row or not. Flights are uncomfortable for everyone. Go back to the basics of sharing and be generous with your armrests.

I’d love to know, what is your pet peeve when it comes to airplane etiquette? Leave your comments in the section below.

12 Airplane Etiquette Tips

Image courtesy of Sam Churchill from Flickr.com under Creative Commons Licence.

About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox