Bad Airplane Etiquette Doesn’t Fly

airplane etiquette and protocol

If you have traveled by airplane lately, you have probably noticed a significant change to how we travel now. The experience is not what it used to be, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Bad airplane etiquette doesn’t fly.

The last time I traveled on an airplane, I felt like one of the people in steerage class in the movie “Titanic.” There was a time when it was a prestigious experience to fly. People dressed up, had a lovely meal on the plane, and were treated very well by everyone they encountered.

Regardless of how things have changed, there is still proper protocol for flying. If everyone paid a little more attention to protocol and being polite, perhaps we wouldn’t focus on all the other frustrations and irritations.

Here are a few airplane etiquette suggestions for your next trip:

  • Wait your turn.
  • Please don’t take over the overhead compartment because you don’t feel like paying for a bag.
  • Arrive early enough to be civilized even if a disruption or change or unexpected traffic jam presents itself. Torturing the people around you because you didn’t leave enough time for an unexpected situation is rude.
  • Be polite. Remember the basic manners that apply to everyday life.
  • If you are sitting with someone who has been split from their significant other, offer the switch with them.
  • If you are sitting on the aisle and a lady or gentleman is uncomfortable and crammed in a center or window seat, offer to switch. It’s not their fault they are tall and got the wrong seat.
  • Turn off your cell phones and computers when you are asked.
  • If you are traveling with small children, do your best to keep them occupied. No one wants to hear screaming children when they cannot get away, especially if this is the beginning of a much-needed vacation.
  • Do not bring strong-smelling food on the plane. Smells are funny in closed in areas and can make people sick.
  • Slow down on the alcohol. You may be starting your crazy vacation, but the man next to you is preparing for a very important presentation and may find your loud, vulgar conversation to be obnoxious.
  • Be considerate of those around you. Ask before you drop your seat back, listen to what the flight attendant says, use “please and thank you,” and offer to let someone go ahead of you when disembarking if they are late for a connection.

Flying can be a very pleasant experience if we plan and are polite. Flying is a terrific way to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. The experience itself is up to us and how we choose to respond to the circumstances both expected and unanticipated.

Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.