Last holiday season I shared nine tips to follow so you won’t annoy your fellow passengers. To refresh your memory, go ahead and read “Don’t Be That Annoying Passenger: Nine Tips to Follow While Traveling Via Airplane” – as all of those tips still apply.
The holidays are a busy time and most likely every seat on the plane is filled. That includes the seat in front of you, behind you, and next to you. I often feel like some people forget they are not the only passenger on the plane.
Well, after just coming back off a few holiday season flights, I’d like to update my list for the 2015 holiday travel season. And I should point out that while I wrote this list for the non-frequent holiday travelers, these tips should be followed year-round.
1. Practice Facetime (or Phone) Etiquette
I know you’re excited to speak to your kids, but guess what, as your seatmate before this four hour flight takes off, I want to relax a bit and not hear your wife talk about the kid’s meltdown, then the kid melting down, then you trying to calm the kid, and you’re speaking louder and louder because your kid is crying, and you’re not wearing headphones… and you get the idea.
To remedy this: One, wear headphones. Two, stop screaming into the phone.
And one more thing, please don’t show your kid the plane and your seatmate. Your seatmate doesn’t want to wave to your kids or your wife.
2. Don’t Kick/Bump/Push the Seat In Front of You
I hate when I’m about to go to sleep and I’m woken up by MY seat bring moved, poked, rocked, etc. If you need to get up, please don’t use my seat as a handle (your arm rests should work for that). And please, when you’re walking to and from the bathroom, don’t touch the back of every seat. If you need something to help you balance, put your hand on the overhead baggage storage bins.
Additionally, the TV screen will not work better or faster if you punch at it. In fact, it is more effective if you’re gentle and hold the channel up button for an extra second.
And if you’re traveling with small children, please be cognizant of their feet placement on the seat in front.
3. Respect Your Fellow Passenger’s Personal Space
Planes are tiny and they pack us in like canned sardines. It’s already not pleasant, so let’s not make it worse. You paid for your tiny 18 inches, as did your fellow passengers. Just as you want to utilize all of your space (and not share it), so does everyone else.
Never put your feet (especially your bare feet!) on the armrest in front of you. If you have especially long legs, be careful not to extend them past the seat in front of you. Keep your arms, legs, coats, bags, shoes, feet to yourself and don’t let your items (or yourself) spill over to the other passenger’s personal space. And make sure your hair, scarf, hood, hand (for those of you that reach back and hold the seat) is not bothering the passenger behind you (I literally had a guy put his hand in my drink by reaching back behind the seat to stretch – yuck!).
4. Recline Your Seat Slowly
Just like the seat in front of you is filled with another miserable traveler, so is the seat behind you, and at any given moment that traveler could be reaching down into their bag, or have their laptop out, etc. If you absolutely must recline your seat, do it politely. Push back a little so the person knows it’s coming and they have time to move their laptop, drink, etc. Or better yet, gently tell them you’re going to push it back. And please always leave the seat up for takeoff, landing, and meals.
5. Don’t Be Too Chatty
I’m a big fan of a quick hello, how are you, and a smile. It’s a long flight and it’s nice to be friendly. But being too friendly is not OK. In my experience, most people I know use their flight time wisely to get work done, read, or just relax after a crazy business trip. Gauge your seat mate’s reaction. If they whip out a book or put on headphones, that’s a sign they want some private time.
Also, please never ever ever ask a business women who travels frequently why she doesn’t have children (this happens far too often to me).
6. Practice Proper Personal Hygiene
I honestly can’t believe people need to be reminded of this. Before you fly, shower, and put on fresh clothes. And if you’re a smoker, wash that jacket you wear all the time. And if you’re overly hairy or sweaty, please try wearing long sleeves so you’re not brushing up against the person next to you for four hours. And please, keep your bad breath in check.
7. Sit In Your Assigned Seat
I choose the window seat on the right side or the aisle seat on the left side on purpose. I like to have extra room for my right arm to control my laptop’s mouse so I can use my flying time wisely. So many times I’ve arrived at my seat to find someone sitting in it because they think I’d prefer the aisle, or what not. No. I went online to pick my exact seat. Please do not assume I will switch seats (my favorite is when middle seat people try to ask for my window).
Now the caveat is that if you ask me to move my seat (maybe a husband and wife want to sit together), I will try to accommodate. The exception is when someone tried to swipe my economy comfort seat for a regular one. People are so strange.
8. Don’t Talk About Terrorists, Bombs, ISIS, Plane Crashes, Etc.
For real. This just happened to me. My seatmate that doesn’t fly very often and thought he was hilarious started asking me about my feelings on Iraq, Obama, ISIS, and started joking about how many people on the flight would freak out if he went on Gogo wifi and started reading Al Jazeera in Arabic (which, don’t even get me started on how racist he was being, too), and would he as a white man get reported, etc. Then he went on rants about war crimes, and how the Republicans will fix the US, and how Obama is a Muslim, etc.
Oh my goodness, just don’t do this. Whatever your beliefs are, fine, but there is a time and place for your crazy talk and it’s not on the plane. Don’t drag your seatmate who just wants a quick nap and to work on reports for work into your crazy attention-seeking, how far can I push this before someone notices me, rant.
And this also goes for plane crash talk. Yes, the likelihood that we’ll have an emergency is low but you telling me about your past emergencies is not something I want to hear. And don’t say, “I may be the last person you ever see.”
9. Remember the Golden Rule
My elementary school principal, Mr. Lanigan, was famous for starting and ending every assembly with these wise words: Treat others they way you want to be treated. If we all just remember that, maybe flying this holiday season will be a little bit smoother for us all.
Have you had an awful or awesome experience with another passenger? Or what’s missing from this list? I’d love to hear it. Let me know in the comments below, send me a Tweet, or comment on Facebook.