Flying Etiquette: Dos And Don’ts In Airplanes

Airplanes are very unique from the design to that special atmosphere or risks that can come up in the air.

If you are an infrequent flyer and new to the traveling world when it comes to flying, you shouldn’t worry much. You definitely won’t be the only one that’s being confused by what is or isn’t fine to do in the air.

Here you can read about some unspoken rules for airplanes, or in short-the flying etiquette, so you won’t have to sit there feeling uncomfortable wondering what to do.

First things first – make sure to dress something nice and comfortable for your flight that won’t be disrespectful to the fellow passengers. It’s a good idea to wear clothes of natural materials that are comfortable enough for you but at the same time, you won’t feel embarrassed if you bump into someone important you know. Avoid sandals and high heeled dress shoes. Foot swelling during air travel is very common so wear slip-on shoes that you can easily remove, you won’t have to tie and can handle a long flight. You’ll have to remove your shoes when you go through airport security check so wearing socks is a good idea unless you want to be barefoot in the process. *It’s not ok though to go barefoot on the airplane.

Always do what flight attendants ask of you. Don’t ever argue with the flight attendant.

More to Read:

Your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment

Most of us are familiar with the fact that carry-on luggage includes one bag that should be placed in the overhead compartment above your seat row and another item or handbag that goes under your seat.

When you place your bag do not move someone else’s bag in the overhead bin without asking first. Make sure to place your (one) bag vertically in there and the other one, the smaller handbag under your seat. As soon as you put your bag up in the bin sit on your seat. Don’t let everyone else wait too much for you. Put everything you think you going to use during the flight like earplugs, laptop, or neck pillow and snacks in the bag beneath your seat to have those within arm’s reach. Or if you want more legroom put all those stuff in the seatback pocket in front of you and avoid standing up every time you need something of the bag in an overhead bin.

If your oversized carry-on has managed to pass through security instead of being checked-in as luggage, that doesn’t mean it will fit in the overhead compartment too. In such case when the bag is too big you can’t keep it in front of your legs or in your lap. You’ll have to call the flight attendant to store it someplace safe.

It’s not just the size that should be checked before boarding it’s the weight too. You have to check if you can actually pick the bag up to place it in the overhead bin by yourself. Flight attendants are not obligated to do so and finally, if you can’t do it probably it would be heavy enough for them to help you too. And when you think about it we shouldn’t ask them at all since if every passenger does that, that can really affect their health if handling so much luggage and weight so often. That can really affect their health if handling so much luggage and weight so often.

Instead, to make the boarding process more efficient be cooperative with the fellow passengers when placing your bag up in the compartment. Ask or offer help if needed.

When to recline your seat

In general, you should keep your seat upright when landing, taking off or when the meals are served. During takeoff and landing, seats are more stable in upright position.

Most of us probably don’t like it when the fellow passenger in front of us reclines its seat. But, at the same time would love to adjust the seat a few inches into a more comfortable angle so we can take a nap.

Reclining your seat all the way back reduces the legroom of the person sitting behind you. You don’t need permission to recline your seat but out of courtesy, you should check behind you before you do so. Let the person behind you know about it in advance. Sometimes they might have an open table with food and drinks or a laptop on it. Ask the person behind you if this is ok, and give them time to arrange their laptop, drinks, and knees.

Since airlines shrank the seat peach (or the distance from one seat headrest to the next) reclining your seat should be done with great care and consideration about the fellow passenger behind you. So if you want to recline your seat a little bit first take a short look behind you to see if the one sitting there is a tall person with long legs, overweight or maybe a mother with a child in her lap. In those circumstances, you shouldn’t think of reclining your seat at all.

People should probably recline their seats if they need to sleep (on an overnight flight) but if not they should keep them upright. It’s ok to recline your seat when you want to rest on long haul flight but take a nap just for a while. And it’s only ok after the food service is over. Finally, if you find yourself being that person, that has a problem with the reclined seat of the one sitting in front of you, you can definitely ask nicely to put their seat up.

Some airplanes are better designed than others and have more legroom to stretch even with the seat in front reclined. While some economy class airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair do not have reclining seats at all.

The average seat legroom in economy flights is 30-31 inches. If you have long legs or would need that extra space there are options for booking premium seats in front rows of the airplane. Make sure to look up all the options the airline is offering before booking your flight to make it as comfortable and bearable as possible.

You should as well pay attention to the seat pitch when choosing an airline since sometimes you can fly even for less with more legroom available. Same goes for the seat width so if you are an overweight person check on that too.

Your time with the row buddies

We’ll be sitting in an airplane stuck next to each other like sardines for hours so be considerate to others. It’s a good idea to minimize the body smells as much as we can by practicing good hygiene. Consider taking a shower and brushing your teeth before boarding on the airplane and please be more gentle when using perfumes.

When you bring your food onto the plane make sure it’s not a hot or cooked meal and that it doesn’t have smelly ingredients such as tuna fish or onion nor does it make noise when eaten. Be prepared with good snacks instead.

There are moments in the air when is acceptable to wake your neighbor, like when he’s snoring or you must go to the restroom. Don’t take too much time in the restroom though. Consider using the airport restroom before boarding. It’s ok to go like two times at most during the flight. More than that would probably be disturbing especially if you are by the window seat. It’s pretty much appreciated when other row buddies are doing the same. So hold it as long as you can. If you see that the flight attendant is passing with a trolley stay put in your seat. Also, don’t stand up to go in the restroom before the lunch trays are collected.

Don’t pull yourself up using the seat in front of you. Someone head is resting there so use your armrests when standing up instead. When someone needs to get out of the row, step out into the aisle and let them through. It’s very rude to remain standing in the row while the other person is trying to pass you making a huge effort not to touch your body.

Keep your legs to your seat pitch. Be respectful of the others’ legroom at the seat and don’t invade it with your legs. Don’t fall asleep with your feet stretched out in the aisle either. You should remove them every time someone passes by. Because the aisle seat doesn’t mean extra legroom.

Some people simply feel better when talking and flying and most likely would search for a chat buddy. The canceling headphones are a very good, widely recognizable sign that you are not up for conversation. You can put them on whenever you have a talkative row buddy sitting next to you and you want to ignore him. But if you are the one that likes talking on airplanes than make sure you are not loud and won’t be disturbing other passengers. Speak softly because almost everybody would have to hear your conversation otherwise.

The fact is you can’t really easily ignore what the guy next to you is watching on the electronic devices. So the chances are if you are flying with your kid and has to see something unsuitable for its age, feel free to remind the fellow passenger about that and ask nicely if he could change the program.

If you flying solo it’s always a kind gesture to offer to switch seats so that a family can sit next to each other.

When to use the call button

The call button placed above your airplane seat is for emergencies use only, like when you feel sick. At least in economy or coach flights. So refrain of using the call button if you can. You shouldn’t use it for ordering your drinks as in the restaurants for example since the flight attendants are not that kind of service. Regardless of their effort to make the flight as comfortable and bearable for all, they don’t have that kind of time on their hands to personally serve every passenger separately. In fact, for every 50 airplane seats, one attendant is needed. Expect your drinks to be served when are for everyone else. Instead of pressing the call button for a drink wait for the beverage trolley.

Their primary responsibility is the safety and well-being of the passengers, not to wait on them. But they also can help and interfere if you have any problem with other passenger and you can’t resolve the issue nicely as adults, I suppose.

The call button is also a signal system used for communication between the crew and passengers. Sometimes when you really can’t do something by yourself and would need assistance from the flight attendants you can use it too.

Economy class cabins can be huge, thus flight attendants may be preoccupied. Sometimes though when you are truly in need for food or drink and that’s usually when you are trapped by the window seat somehow, you can, of course, use the call button. Keep in mind that most of the people do get thirsty on planes but probably are holding to a certain limit avoiding being intrusive until they must. And flight attendants walk a lot up and down the aisle so it’s likely that one will pass by anyway while the call button has that annoying ding sound.

On the other hand, business or first class are simply smaller cabins with fewer passengers and most of the time an eye contact with the flight attendants is sufficient to call them when needed.

It’s inappropriate to tap or poke the flight attendant to call her attention when you need assistance. And you shouldn’t probably tip either but a thank you smile would be quite enough. At least not in the way that is expected in the restaurants, like 15-20% of the total amount. Although many airlines discourage tipping, flight attendants in some instances may accept tips as well as gratitude for their hard work.

Finally, do not rush to the front right after you’ve landed. When you’re getting off the plane ask politely if you can go ahead because you have a connecting flight (or some other reason). Avoid hitting other passengers on the way by taking out your backpack as you walk down the aisle and keeping it in front of you and close to your body.

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