Airplane etiquette: don’t be a pain in the air(se)

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We’ve all come across one of those painful passengers. You know the ones. They tap their foot on the back of your chair to headphone music turned up so loud they may as well not be wearing headphones. They talk to the cabin crew as if they own the plane and take up all the room in the overhead baggage compartment.

I recently read an article called The 21 Unwritten Rules of Flying You’re Probably Breaking. It is a hilarious exposé on the ‘unspoken social code nearly everyone observes’ when flying. – a really good read if you have a few minutes.

Now, I agree with quite a few of the author’s suggestions, namely:

1. never ask if you can skip someone in the security line

2. no hot food of any kind on a plane, especially stinky fast food

3. don’t recline in economy – ever

4. middle seat gets the arm rests

and my personal favourite by far is:

5. the only acceptable place to fart on a plane is when you are walking through first class on the way to economy.

reclining seat in economy class

I have a few more to add. Some of which have been told to me by cabin crew and others that are based on personal grievances. Here goes:

6. If there are spare seats on the plane, don’t just up and move. Ask the cabin crew if it’s okay. Passengers are seated in such a way to ensure smooth operation and balanced weight for take-off and landing. Your comfort is not more important than the rest of us landing safely.

7. Don’t use my seat as a stretching post or leaning pole while you wait to use the toilet.

8. The plane is not a playground. Keep your kids in check. It’s not only annoying, but also dangerous for cabin crew, passengers and, well, your child if they push someone too far.

9. Don’t ‘manspread’ on the plane. I paid as much for my seat as you did for yours, so unless you wish to subsidise my airfare, keep your legs over there.

10. My shoulder is not your travel pillow. Enough said.

11. If you have an aisle seat, please don’t fall asleep on your fold-down table!

Do you have any unwritten rules of flying that you often see broken? Why not share them with our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 13
  1. 0

    What you have pretty much said is – there is not enough room in economy for a 21st century human and the airlines need to fix it. Sounds as though you need to pay for a business class seat.
    Don’t lean forward, don’t lean backwards, don’t use the arm rest. Seriously – don’t travel – you must have had a really bad flight.
    PS – farting – pressurisation causes farting. You are going to be in a whole lot more trouble if you don’t let it go. There are toilets on board! It maybe better if you suggested people eat neutral foods before flying rather than spicy baked beans. It is so much better than the days when people used to smoke on aircraft.

    • 0

      Rosret, “It is so much better than the days when people used to smoke on aircraft.”

      It has been proven that the quality of air on aircraft has decreased substantially since smoking on aircraft has bee banned. When smoking was allowed the airline had to increase the amount of new oxygen put into the cabin now it has decreased by 50% and the airlines are saving money thru’ the decrease weight and expense.

      Don’t let your perceptions cloud the facts.

    • 0

      Spot on Rosret. Leon might need to look at what he flies in. Airbus A380s are not the same as Boeing777s and you need to learn the game.

  2. 0

    The selfishness of some passengers is beyond belief, I think that is the message that the author is trying to get across, there is enough room in economy seats for the average sized person, The only time I have a problem is at meal times when the person in front refuses to put their seat back into the upright position, I’m sure it would be nice to travel in premium or buisness class. For the record I am 5’10 and weigh 97 kg . The thing that annoys me the most is again selfish travellers that bring too much carry on luggage, the ammount of times I have found the overhead locker above my seat to be full really annoys me, I used to do what most people do and try and find an empty space elsewhere, not anymore, I ask the passengers close by If they know who the bags belong to, it is ALWAYS someone who has 2 or 3 bags most people will do the right thing and remove their excess bags and place them under their seat, I only do this on long haul, and I am polite when I ask, and don’t let it spoil my day.

  3. 0

    When travelling with friends don’t claim you need an aisle seat for a medical or health reason.

    If you are in an aisle seat don’t get upset when others either wake you up or disturb you during the flight for bathroom break/s or a legitimate
    Exercise or recommended walk routine for travel health.

    I have a friend who thinks he deserves an aisle seat just because he prefers it and then dies the above whilst in flight!

  4. 0

    The space is getting smaller in economy. Perhaps we all just need to go to sleep. I flew with Swiss Air once and they literally fed us dinner around mid morning Zurich time, shut the plane down for sleep so we were instantly on East Coast Us time. It was brilliantly done.

    Although I hate wasting money I’m seriously considering paying for business next long haul flight. And I’m tiny. I always feel for larger and longer folk.

    I try to take trains wherever possible overseas to avoid airports and planes.

    A cruise ship works well too. Retirement is about having the time to travel leisurely surely and there is no leisure much in todays cattle class flight.

  5. 0

    Sounds like you may be a bit of a pain in a plane leon. A pretty long list of pet hates.
    Personally I have no complaint if a gorgeous young woman wants to use my very boney shoulder as a pillow.
    Also……only ever a few passengers ever move in flight and this will not greatly affect the centre of gravity for the plane. I always head for any groups of 3 free seats after take off as long flights require a bit of sleeping to get to the other end in a useful condition.
    As for reclining seats of course you recline the seats. So does everybody else. The unwritten law is that when it is feeding time they go back up. Always works well.
    You may need to change the aircraft you fly in. Choose and Airbus A380 and you will not have to stretch your feet out in your neighbour’s space.
    In terms of complaining I try to restrain myself. The one time I didn’t is when they 3 meals were contracted to one: chicken. I did not want the chicken (me being a bit difficult) and I sat on my dig with the Qantas upstart guy whose manner was objectionable. I eventually told the guy to go away. A few minutes later the chief steward showed up for damage control and said the meal I asked for would be there in 10 minutes. It arrived in 5. The moral of the story is stick up for what is fair rather than being done over. In this case they wanted to move the crook chook and I was not having a bar of that and was prepared to go without to make my point. Yeah….some passengers are a pain in the rear end.

  6. 0

    The secret to comfortable flying in economy, is NOT to overload take on baggage! I have my medium sized cross body handbag, containing phone, tissues, diary, ticket, plus health insurance contact numbers…..small bottle of hand sanitiser, lip balm…..oh, and NO alcohol, as it has a detrimental effect 30,000 feet in the air….also, a silk& cashmere pashmina, ladies!

  7. 0

    Huskie u would have to be kidding yourself about smoking on planes. Its a filthy disgusting habit and those that don’t smoke don’t wish to stink of stale smoke nor inhale it. Some people have respect for their lungs!!

    • 0

      Totally agree Pamiea!
      The stench of smokers can be smelt from many meters away.
      The ability not to smell their own stench indicates they have
      lost their sense of smell. Another health issue they have.

  8. 0

    I have one pet hate, only one, about flying. When you board in Sydney, there is a metal frame that is used by aircrew as a footrest but the actual use is to measure the size of carry-on luggage. When a backpacker gets on with a back pack that is about the same height as they are and stows it overhead, the space allowed for another three passengers has gone. I suppose I’m a tad anal but why have rules if they are ignored?

  9. 0

    All you people who complain about behaviour in planes, stay at home
    Don’t fly

    More space for the rest of us

  10. 0

    My 2 petsonal hates are people with in my opion over sized carry on baggage who happen to shift evryone elses so they can force theirs in &the amount of large daypacks that are only removedwhen they get to their seats some people just dont know how to board aircraft



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