Air Travel Etiquette: What Flies and What Doesn’t

Young professionals are no stranger to airports, planes and travel for both work and play. Very few people like the actual transition element to travel, either focusing on the sunshine of the final destination on a vacay or the comforts of their own bed on the way home. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make airports, airplanes and fellow passengers more bearable… 

If you are late, don’t make others pay for it
Since the days of annual family Disney World trips, we have been aware of the two-hour cushion of time suggested and often required before takeoff. Even so, most multi-tasking YPs may push the boundary with this a little. If you are late, don’t make others suffer for this by your impatient attitude, dramatic sighs as the person in front of you moves in slow motion through security and snappy replies to custom officials and airline workers. If your flight has already boarded, don’t stop to get coffee. We learned this the hard way. You will likely get called out by the flight attendants and you will be greeted by disapproving glares from fellow travellers once you frantically enter the plane.

Approach conversations with caution
Airports bring out different sides in people. Very few travellers are in ideal moods, whether the result of stress from navigating the endless lines, crowds and politics of airports, anxiety over flying, or perhaps leaving behind a loved one. The customs line, then, is probably not the best place to engage in small talk with the person ahead or behind you, especially if their body language gives zero indication that they are in the mood to make a new “friend.” The same can be said for the person sitting beside you an hour later on the flight. There is a difference between pleasantries and talking someone’s ear off in a prolonged one-way dialogue.

Be aware of your scent
Triple check your deodorant and gum situation beforehand along with your passport and go very easy on the perfume or cologne. You are stuck sitting beside people in close proximity for at least a few hours, likely more. Remember that. 

Save your selfishness
Be mindful of other passengers the way you would like them to be mindful of you. If you are flying coach, don’t monopolize both arm rests, especially if you are not sitting in the middle. Don’t wait until your fellow passenger has (finally) dozed off to get up to use the restroom. When the flight is over, don’t be in such a rush to get off the plane that you push in front of other passengers who are also armed with carry-ons and short tempers. Your suitcase is still on the plane underneath you anyway, so all you are rushing to do is wait.

Limit the booze
Sure, a glass of wine or shot of whiskey at the airport bar pre-flight is a good way to ease flying nerves and aid in your desire and need for a nap. The same can be said for a second drink mid-flight. What you don’t want is to become too intoxicated on an airplane. Kristen Wiig’s display in Bridesmaids may be an extreme example, but many of us can witness the repercussions of other drunk travellers, either in their inability to keep their mouths shut, unwelcomed commentary on the on-board film, and sloppiness in eating or drinking. We have emerged from a flight covered in red wine thanks to the slurring woman beside us before she inevitably passed out. It was less than ideal, to say the least.