Getting stuck next to an inconsiderate passenger for a long-haul flight has to be one of the worst experiences known to humankind. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, we can’t control the actions of others, but we can control our own. So follow this simple guide to plane etiquette and hopefully it will inspire those around you to do the same.
1. Prepare for streamlined security
Remove everything from your pockets before you get to the plastic buckets, and make sure your laptop or camera is not at the bottom of your bag so it’s easy to take out. Put those gels and liquids into zip-lock plastic bags so they’re ready to go. And once you’re through, don’t put your shoes and belt back on and try to pack your bag directly after retrieving them – move to an area that isn’t going to be in the way of others and do it there.
2. Know your armrest rules
If you’re fortunate enough to not be sitting in the middle seat, don’t take up that passenger’s armrest. They are already squeezed in between two other people, so allow them the small luxury of having both.
3. Neutralise your odour
No, this does not mean covering yourself in duty-free perfume before you board. It means leaving enough time to have a shower before you go to the airport and wearing semi-clean clothes. The best smell to aim for is none at all.
4. Check before reclining
Before you go ahead and recline your seat, make sure that the person siting behind you is not using their tray table. Otherwise they might end up with scalding hot coffee in their lap.
5. Don’t be selfish with overhead locker space
Everyone needs to fit their bags in the overhead lockers, so don’t be taking up too much space. Put your bag vertically, not horizontally. This is especially important in the age of budget airlines, where overhead locker space is more limited than legroom.
6. Patience is a virtue
We all want to get off the plane as quickly as possible after landing. So don’t try to push your way off in front of everyone else. Be patient, and everyone can debark in a civilised fashion.
7. Don’t force conversation
Sure, it can be great to get to know strangers. But if your neighbour doesn’t seem responsive to your conversation starters, let it be. Sometimes people just want to relax and enjoy the flight in solitude.
8. If you’re sick, prevent the spread of infection
Unfortunately, there is no clause for getting a flight refunded due to common sickness. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the pain of flying when you can hardly even breathe. So be courteous and don’t risk passing your misfortune onto anyone else. Bring tissues and wear a facemask. Or at least cover your mouth when you cough.