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Ten Commandments of Airplane Etiquette

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
These days, I feel like I spend most of my time either racing through airports or flying on airplanes. With the amount of traveling that I do, I inevitably encounter some unpleasant situations along the way. On planes, I usually try to drown out the chaos with my headphones and a decent playlist, but sometimes the insanity simply cannot be ignored. Traveling by plane has taught me the value of common sense, and what a rare commodity it truly is. So without further ado, I give you my

1. Thou shalt stick to thine own seat assignment.

I'm pretty OCD when it comes to selecting seats. I usually only sit in even numbered aisles, and I get pretty anxious if I don't sit in a window seat. I normally choose my seats months in advance, and nowadays I usually have to pay extra for them. So when I'm on a transatlantic flight and I've paid more money for a window seat with extra leg room, please don't ask me to switch seats with you when you're frantically trying to get your family of 10 to sit together. Plan ahead, people. 

2. Thou shalt respect personal space.

It only takes one transatlantic flight with a stranger trying to cuddle with you to make you never want to fly again. See that armrest? Let's think of it as an invisible line between us. Please, do not cross it.

3. Thou shalt wear deodorant.

I shouldn't have to explain this one further, but it's appalling how many people clearly need to be reminded of it. The same goes for avoiding overwhelmingly strong perfume. We're all trapped in this small steel tube together, so let's try our best to be respectful and smell nice.

4. Thou shalt be a responsible parent.

I'm okay with crying babies (I mean, they can't help it), but when a parent does nothing to stop their child from persistently punching and kicking the seat in front of them (when they're clearly old enough to know better), I just about lose it. Oh, I didn't know I was signing up for a free back massage when I sat in front of your savage offspring! This is an airplane, not a daycare. Either control your child or buy me a drink, you choose.

5. That shalt not recline thy seat until after dinner.

There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to eat your less-than-mediocre airplane food while awkwardly cramped in your seat, because Joe Bro in front of you decided to recline his seat immediately after take off. Considering most in-flight meals are served fairly soon after departure, is it really too much to wait until after we don't have to use our tray tables anymore?

6. Thou shalt not abuse free drinks in first class.

Just because you're flying first class to Vegas doesn't mean you can act like Ke$ha. Maybe the entire cabin doesn't want to hear your life story when you're one mimosa away from a blackout.

7. Thou shalt respect thy tall brethren.

If you're pretty short and the guy sitting directly behind you looks like he's over 6'1, is it really necessary to keep your seat reclined through the entire 8 hour flight? When my towering peers help me lift my heavy carry-on bag into the overhead bin, I try to return the favor and not squish them for 6+ consecutive hours.

8. Thou shalt not affront thy flight attendant.

You've gotta hand it to them, these people deal with the craziest of the crazies. I asked my flight attendant friend Shalei what bothers her the most about passengers' behavior, and she said,
"TRASH: Give it all to me when I ask and stop hiding it in the seat back pockets or under the seat. This is not your house. And please don't blame us for all of the flying delays. We are not the weather gods and if you want to fly on a broken plane then buy your own."

9. Thou shalt not yell on thy phone whilst on the runway.

That's cool that you don't mind 160 strangers listening in on your personal conversation, but let's try to use our inside voices. Or better yet, save the conversation for later.

10. Thou shalt use thine overhead space wisely.

If I'm not mistaken, the rule is "one carry-on in the overhead bin per passenger", not "one carry-on, one purse, an extra-large puffy coat and three Duty Free shopping bags". I don't understand why this is such a difficult concept for some people to grasp. Finding overhead space would be so much less dramatic if we all followed the rules.

What would you add to this list? 
Do you have any airplane horror stories?

14 comments on "Ten Commandments of Airplane Etiquette"
  1. These are so good and so true!!! The last one especially! Nick and I always sit and watch people get on the plane with 5 million bags, each stuffed so full they are huge (we call them Gorilla bags) and then try and stuff them into the bins for 20 minutes. Buy a suitcase that fits!!!!! I don't get it.

    1. I know, it's so simple! Common sense, people.

  2. I feel ya sister!! I am not as kind about the baby thing. Yes I know they can't help it, and one day I might be in that situation too, but its truly the worst!!

    1. Especially when the babies cry for 9 nonstop hours. But I feel bad complaining, because I know fully well that one day I am going to be one of those embarrassed moms on the plane trying to get their baby to be quiet! Maybe by then, I'll be able to afford to buy everyone on the plane a drink to compensate them for their suffering ;)

  3. Hahaha, I love this post - these are all so true. I would also add #11: Thou Shall Not Crowd Around the Front of the Gate If You're Boarding in the LAST Zone. Drives me insane every time people do this (which is always).

    1. Oh my goodness, YES. I could not agree more! Although what drives me even MORE crazy is when airlines don't even board by zones, and it's just one chaotic free-for-all! Then people really start getting crazy.

  4. Oh my gosh, I love this! A kid kicking my seat or playing with the tray table is my absolute nightmare! I also can't stand when people don't let you out of your seat to get your bag out of the overhead compartment to get off the plane. UGH! Your stuck standing there half crouching below the ceiling and inching into the aisle. I know everyone is always in a rush to leave, but come on!

    1. That drives me insane too. You'd think "taking turns" would be such a simple concept to follow!

  5. haha this is brilliant! That's a pretty good roundup.

    I don't really have a lot of horror stories. I get really bugged by crying babies. I mean as you said it's not their fault but if they're too young to travel and that they're going to cry the whole time (that was a long haul flight), find another way to get where you want to go or just wait. I was literally surrounded by babies on this flight!

  6. I love this! It's completely spot on! :)

  7. Very well written, funny and so true!

    However I must say that having taken lots of transcontinental/ocean night flights between 8-14 hours I have no shame in reclining my seat for the entire time lol (except meal times). I need to sleep if I want to survive when I arrive at my destination and if the person in front of me is reclining, so am I. You know what though? I'm realising as I am writing this that this isn't anyone's fault. We all deserve to recline, and this is the fault of all those cheap airlines who think luggage and people can be stacked the same way. I say we stand together against them! ;)

    Thanks for this wonderful post!x

  8. Love this...don't even get me started....argh...and my trans-Atlantic is coming up....oh woe is me.

  9. Yes! Can we post this list near security so everyone can read it while in line?!

  10. I would add that people need to use THEIR OWN seat back to climb in and out of their seats, not the seatback in front of them. This should be common sense, but evidently it is not.