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Airplane Etiquette: How To Behave on an Airplane

Updated on March 10, 2015
Airplane in Lisbon
Airplane in Lisbon | Source

Quick Tip:

Bring noise reducing headphones with you, or at least carry a pair of expandable foam ear plugs to help you fall asleep if crying children are going to be an issue.

Airplane cabin
Airplane cabin | Source

Quick Tip:

If you can manage without a carry-on bag then by all means leave it at home! Your exit and entrance off the plane will be much less of a hassle.

10 Rules To Follow While Flying

  1. Do not browse dating sites. In-flight WiFi may be handy and all, but remember that about a lot of other people around you can see your computer screen in an airplane. And we don't want to know what "ASL's" you prefer.
  2. Do not sneeze without covering your mouth. Be it with your shoulder, a hankerchief, or your hands (although you should wash them afterwards) always cover your sneezes. You may know that you don't have anything that spreads, but others on the plane do not.
  3. Almost all the seats on any airplane can recline about 120 degrees. This doesn't mean they NEED to be pushed back that far. Imagine a heavier person is sitting right behind you. What will that poor guy do if he wants to flip down his eating-tray? Uh...
  4. If you have children (or even better, crying babies!) do not neglect them. Now is probably not the time to play a game of catch but it's also not the time to let your kids play a game of catch by themselves either. We know they won't sit still like plants, but tend to them nonetheless! Take your crying baby to the bathroom if there isn't a long line, you'll spare a lot of sleeping people.
  5. Do not get drunk. Yes, they serve alcohol on airplanes. A really good amount too. Stupid things happen when you are drunk, the only difference is that if the stupid things happen while you are in an airplane, a Federal agent will arrest you and probably hold you in custody until they prove you aren't a threat to the general public. Good luck making it out in time for the next 5 o'clock.
  6. If you are sitting next to somebody you don't know there are 2 things you should do. 1. Say "hello" and 2. If they say it back in a language you don't understand, then the conversation ends there. Otherwise you can talk to the person if they look like they are in a good mood. But don't bother them all flight. If they are reading a book, with sunglasses on, and headphones in, they probably don't want to be bothered.
  7. The flight attendant button is there for a few reasons. 1. If you need some type of drink. 2. A medical issue 3. Flight information or a question about the flight and 4. Any small toiletries that you need such as a napkin, a moist towelette, etc. It is not there because 1. You are bored. 2. You like the beeping noise it makes 3. Or you decided you want a breath of fresh air. Leave the poor attendants alone.
  8. Don't floss in your seat. Go to the bathroom and do it.
  9. Don't steal the pillows. Or blankets. Or headphones. *sigh*
  10. Don't put your entire life in your carry on. The compartments overhead are designed to fit the bags of 2-3 people, not just you. So pack lightly or store your bulkier items under the seats.

Don't let this happen to you! Mind your manners.

Quick Tip:

Don't be rude to the surrounding passengers in the cabin. If you are on a long flight and you get off to a bad start, you'll have to sit through the rest of the flight with their aura of hate surrounding you.

Sneeze in a handkerchief
Sneeze in a handkerchief | Source

What you SHOULD do, if:

  1. Somebody near you sneezes
    If you have tissues, offer them one. It doesn't hurt to say "Bless you" either, most people that travel know basic English so even if it isn't their native language, they'll understand the gesture.
  2. There is somebody with a crying child
    If this is the first time on the entire flight the child is crying, give it 5 minutes (10 if you're really tolerant of kids). After that, it is appropriate to call the flight attendant and ask him/her to politely tell the other passenger to proceed to the bathroom with the child, or to the empty seats in the back of the plane, should there be any.
  3. You have a very chatty passenger sitting next to you
    If they are talking to you, your best bet is to offer very little conversation in return. Yes/no or very short answers will do. Don't be rude, but give the other person hints that you'd rather be sleeping or reading quietly. If they are talking to another person, telling them to shut up would be outright mean (unless they are practically YELLING at the person they are talking to) but instead, take your music player out listen to some tunes, or pop in some earplugs or use noise reducing headphones
  4. You can't have anything on the airplane menu
    In case you find airplane food unappetizing (count me in), know that most airlines allow you to bring your own DRY foods. So no soups or cereal, but definitely a sandwich, granola bars, other basic snacks. Just make sure to keep them in a zip plastic bag. If you can't make your own sandwich, or don't have time, ask about other food options. Chances are there is something else on the menu besides the 2 or 3 choices the flight attendants tell you about. Perhaps a plain salad?

She doesn't look like she wants to be disturbed
She doesn't look like she wants to be disturbed | Source

Airplane Annoyances

What is the most annoying thing people do on planes?

See results

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