21st Nov 2013
FONT SIZE: A+ A-
The unspoken rules of air travel
The unspoken rules of air travel
Image credit: Shutterstock

Whether you are taking a short-haul flight or an overnighter, knowing these unspoken rules of air travel will make you the perfect plane passenger.

Carry no more than two items
This means sticking to the limit - really sticking to it. Two items means your handbag and a carry-on bag. It does not mean your handbag, a carry-on bag, your coat, pashmina scarf, shopping bags, extra magazines, food and a pillow. If it doesn't fit into one of your two bags, you either need to leave it behind or pack it in your checked luggage, for the sanity of those you are likely to whack with your extra shopping bag on your way down the aisle.

The middle seat gets both arm rests
The window seat gets a little extra room between the seat and the wall, and a great view. The aisle seat has the entire aisle in which to spread out. The middle seat does not have either of these luxuries. Even if the middle person does not use the arm rests, they act as a bit of a buffer to the poor sod stuck in that middle seat.

Exit the aisle as quickly as possible
When the plane is boarding there is always one person, usually seated in the front half of the plane, who needs to pack everything away in the top locker 'just so'. This is usually the same person who brought on more than two carry-on items. When you reach your seat, dump everything you are keeping with you onto your seat, stow your larger carry-on bag in the overhead locker (or ask for help in a timely fashion if you are, like me, on the shorter side) and organise yourself once you have moved out of the aisle.

Don't grab seats as you walk down the plane
There are exceptions to this rule, which we will cover below. But, when you grab someone's seat and push off while walking past you cause their seat to bump around, possibly catching and pulling their hair with your fingers as you go. Once you are in the air and cruising it's really not necessary, so take a moment, walk slowly, and if you feel you need some stability try resting your hand on the top corner of the seat, rather than grabbing it.

Exceptions to this rule include:

  • Turbulence
  • Those less steady on their feet

Avoid sleeping on fellow passengers
This one is a no-brainer, right?

What behaviours irritate you while travelling with others? Do you have any rules to add to this list?





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Penqueen1949
    25th Nov 2013
    11:38am
    Don't recline your seat back into my personal space.......
    Pass the Ductape
    25th Nov 2013
    11:39am
    I have couple of things that irritate me no end. (1) Those people who seem to have a need to drop their seat back on the aircraft without first giving you the nod, which actually means they increase their particular seating space by about half while decreasing yours by the same amount.
    (2) Would those of you who don't seem to be able to keep their passions in check concerning their partners, whilst waiting in the queue at the check in, (lesbians in particular) please refrain from slobbering over each another until they reach a more suitable location!
    Penqueen1949
    25th Nov 2013
    11:59am
    I once had the same problem with a male foreign passenger on a Greyhound coach when I boarded. I asked him repeatedly to put his seat into a more upright position and he refused. The lady passenger next to me said that is why she moved previously so I said that I would inform the driver loud enough for the 'man' to hear. The male passenger immediately moved his seat into a more reasonable position instead of practically a bed.....
    Carol
    25th Nov 2013
    11:55am
    Totally agree re seats going back. I had one guy in front of me with a mop of greasy hair which came into my space, he also swiftly pushed back the chair when I had the tray down with a cup of coffee which spilled all over me. He gave no apology, so my husband called him an ignorant so and so, he still said nothing. And one wonders that there is now air rage!
    Pass the Ductape
    26th Nov 2013
    12:33pm
    What a complete turd he was Carol! But alas, I've had them as well so you're not alone...

    Pity is - if your husband had taken it further - HE would have been the one the airlines would have kicked off the plane and likely prosecuted.
    Reeper
    25th Nov 2013
    12:11pm
    Before embarking: Shower or at least wash, don't drown yourself in perfume/cologne, drink alcohol so you don't reek of it, dress comfortably but thoughtfully, don't assume fellow travellers are your lifelong friends
    biddi
    25th Nov 2013
    2:46pm
    Agreed. Wish real estate agents would NOT drown themseves in perfume and after-shave either. The stink is left behind for hours after they've touched things and left. I digress ......
    cookie47
    25th Nov 2013
    1:18pm
    Just got back from Singapore.
    ALL the above applied
    poppsy
    25th Nov 2013
    1:46pm
    Have to definitely with all the above. Recently from Sydney to Abu Dhabi (then to London), two young fellows sat in front of us. Apart from taking off and landing, their seats were down into our space. We had to ask the steward to ask them to sit upright while we eat. They didn't want to eat, so thought it was ok for them to lie back. Such thoughtlessness.

    And what about those people who sit next to you and hog both armrests fully, not even leaving you an inch to put part of your elbow on.

    This is an endless topic, and I am sure there will be many more comments.
    Mary
    25th Nov 2013
    1:57pm
    I think there should be a rule - that only lets you put your seat back after lights out - it is very difficult to know when the person behind you has finished a meal or is not using their tray for a table - when someone puts their seat back they can get scalded or hurt
    Radish
    25th Nov 2013
    2:26pm
    This post will probably upset some but I am putting it up anyway. If you cannot fit into the seat you have purchased please don't spill over into mine. I had the worst flight possible when an extremely obese person sat beside me ; his arm was digging into my side until I finally asked politely if he could stay within his own space. I don't know what the answer is to this problem other than the airlines making bigger seats or passengers purchasing two seats.
    sandyfaye
    28th Nov 2013
    2:06pm
    Perhaps airlines could charge EXCESS BAGGAGE for the extra weight the plane has to carry.
    biddi
    25th Nov 2013
    2:40pm
    Oh, so spot on!!
    And please KEEP YOUR SHOES ON so we don't have to smell your rotten feet.
    And those of you with kids/grandkids, please stop them from kicking the seat in front
    of them. Next, please!
    FrankC
    25th Nov 2013
    5:17pm
    Agree Biddi, I was on a flight from Hong Kong, and this annoying little 7 year ioldbrat behind me thought it would be fun to continuously kick my seat. After 8 kicks I politely asked his grandmother to tell him to stop kicking the seat. She did this without any firmness at all. When he started again I turned round and stared him straight in the eye, and said "you have been asked once to stop kicking the seat, now I am telling you to stop it, or you will be removed from that seat, got it?! " He got the message.
    Ritza
    25th Nov 2013
    3:10pm
    Really really dislike people who put seat back with out consideration if you want a bed go business class.. we in cattle class are squeezed in and there is NO room.
    I always order a vego meal as it is delivered first before main meals
    and Hostie will order person in front to sit up.

    Kids who are bored and kick... really annoying but what do you do?
    Toogoom
    25th Nov 2013
    11:46pm
    Ask their parents to control them - if they are travelling unescorted ask the Attendant to sort it out.
    joy44
    25th Nov 2013
    4:12pm
    No tank tops , board shorts, thongs, skimpy tops for "ladies" with boobs hanging out,.!!!! deoderants should be given out on all airlines....
    poppsy
    25th Nov 2013
    4:47pm
    Back "in the good old days" women wore stockings, high heels and gloves when going on a flight. Although it needed it be that these days, I agree with Joy44, some women travel as if they were on their way to the beach.

    Another bugbear of mine, again thoughtlessness, is the amount of carry on luggage you see now. So not to pay extra, they bring it on the plane. Pity the stewards, having to hunt around for space in the overhead lockers. I take one small bag that fits under my seat and I can get to it if necessary. Why can't all the airline enforce the rule - one bag per person (and not the size of a car boot either).

    Then these same inconsiderate people while in transit, buy more stuff to jam into the overhead lockers.
    Buzz
    25th Nov 2013
    5:13pm
    i travelled long distance few times and on 1 of my trips a lady behind my seat put her knee up against my seat and bang...bang...shake...shake whenever she moved her leg either against the seat or away from the seat, no considerate, it shook the seat and woke us up...so rude she was
    sjdeez
    25th Nov 2013
    5:50pm
    One thing I also find particularly annoying is the number of times some people insist on getting up out of their seat.... even on a short flight... they have to annoy the stewards to get done the aisle and me if I'm in an aisle seat.... surely an adult can wait 2 hours between toilet stops? Also the pushing and shoving to get off... if you are in that much of a hurry take an earlier flight!!
    poppsy
    25th Nov 2013
    6:04pm
    "Pushing and shoving to get off". Yes another annoying habit. I have travelled long flights often, and it is always announced "Remain in your seat till the seatbelt sign is turned off. Do you think most people listen? No. they jump out of their seat to get to the overhead lockers, then stand in the aisle for quite a bit of time till the doors open. Why can't they just wait in their seats.
    Pass the Ductape
    26th Nov 2013
    1:02pm
    How about those small Asian foreign tourists seated in the middle rows eh? They often completely ignore common sense and airhostess directions during the landing process by unbuckling their seatbelts to move over to a window next to one of their own. Then they lean over everyone else to look through the windows at the scenery!

    Usually ignoring the airline hostesses instructions to sit back down...Grrrrrrr
    fish head
    25th Nov 2013
    6:53pm
    Why this mistaken idea that a window seat has more room and a beaut view? The seat is EXACTLY the same size as its fellows with an immoveable armrest on the wall and view? That depends wholly on the position of the seat. Often you can be between two windows and/or over a wing and see nothing. The only advantage if you have a bulkhead is to wedge your pillow on your shoulder and sleep propped sideways. To avoid piggy-in-the-middle request a seat down the back of the aircraft where the configuration is likely to be in twos instead of three and you are closer to the toilets.It is a choice of evils in cattle class.
    Pass the Ductape
    26th Nov 2013
    1:17pm
    Choice of evils is correct fish head. Move to the back and you might have a little more space but the trade off is constant interruption as everyone - and I mean everyone - passes to get to the toilet and the food trolley loading and unloading provides for a lot more action in this location.
    Toogoom
    25th Nov 2013
    11:42pm
    If you are obese, morbidly or just fat, consider not flying or buy two seats.
    Drew
    29th Nov 2013
    10:37am
    Travellers who are overweight (like myself) should always choose an aisle seat! The armrest goes up after takeoff.
    Trunsoy
    25th Nov 2013
    11:44pm
    Smile when boarding :)
    Toogoom
    25th Nov 2013
    11:48pm
    Apropos the passengers who carry on excess luggage - they also often try to place it at the front of the aircraft meaning there is no space for the passengers sitting there - who are often placed there because of their frequent flier status - a bit of consideration please.
    Brain Matters
    25th Nov 2013
    11:57pm
    For those of you who who are totally stressed at the thought of flying with children check out http://www.boredomrescue.com.au/ (copy and paste).....resulting in happy parents, happy children, happy passengers and crew !!
    Rosy
    26th Nov 2013
    8:19am
    Don't wear strong aftershave or the new perfume you bought duty free, some of us get allergic reactions! DO WEAR deodorant, please! If you are a large person and over flow the seat can you please buy a larger, more accommodating Business class seat or perhaps two economy ones. I see no reason for my discomfort because of some one else's size. No, I'm not being unfair but I detest being smothered. It also makes it harder to get out to use the toilets in a long flight and reduces the airflow around others so often, this added to the dehydration caused by flying, people end up with headaches.
    poppsy
    26th Nov 2013
    9:46am
    Another comment on others encroaching in your space. On our last long haul flight, there was a large passenger a couple of rows across from us.

    He sat in the aisle seat and slept most of the way. The skinny fellow next to him, when he needed to get out had to manouvre a way to climb over him, so not to wake him.

    You see all sorts of things when travelling. Someone could write a book.
    KKKKatie
    26th Nov 2013
    2:09pm
    One thing I've always dreaded on overseas flights is sitting next to someone who never stops talking. So far I've been lucky! I find we usually talk for about five minutes and then everyone shuts up, thank goodness.
    CindyLou
    26th Nov 2013
    5:31pm
    This article is so spot on.
    Have recently done 9 flights, 2 domestic others o/seas I am so annoyed by the huge amount of carry on that I have observed...this impacts upon others, especially if you are entering the plane after most of the passengers have boarded, the space above you in overhead storage is 'taken' hence your are then searching for a space to stow your own one small carry on bag...raises issues of security, my bag has camera, iPad etc., I don't really want the bag stowed elsewhere especially if I sleep during journey. My solution was to purchased locks for my carry on just in case another passenger touches my bag and also what about the possibility of someone putting drugs in your carry on bag, letting you be the one to go through customs then somehow stealing your bag later on...
    And don't get me started on the crazy tiny space on international flights...32 inch seat pitch is dreadful in economy.
    poppsy
    26th Nov 2013
    9:55pm
    CindyLou, you make some valid points about security with our carry on luggage. Once upon a time, they used to see your hand luggage too when checking your big bags. Of course, you could have the relatives mind the carry on for you and pretend you only had a small bag.

    Maybe the airline check in counter could put a tag on your carry on luggage, and when going through customs and passport control, if the bags don't have a tag, then you cannot take it on board. But it needs to be monitored properly, not some airlines do it and others don't.

    I hear that some airlines stick by their rule of one bag per person and if it doesn't fit those wire basket stands then it doesn't go.

    You are right CindyLou, anything goes when you are asleep and your bags are further away. One way is to put the opening side facing towards the back of the overhead locker.
    Rosy
    27th Nov 2013
    7:35pm
    ALWAYS lock your hand luggage and put an address tag on it! I use an email address these days.What if someone picks up a similar case, at least yours is locked. It happened to me once and the woman complained that it was my fault yet she didn't even have a contact ph or email on her case.
    Flotsam
    27th Nov 2013
    11:29am
    Ryan air seats do not recline!!
    Ryan air allow 1 and only 1 carry on per person and it has to fit in the tester!! If you have a handbag, laptop etc. it HAS to go in the 1 bag you are allowed.
    They still let fatties and kids on though.
    Rosy
    27th Nov 2013
    7:31pm
    I've got RyanAir sorted! No matter the temperature I wear a big coat with heaps of pockets - passport,pen, glasses, book/tablet, umbrella ( well it is the UK! )and who cares what I weigh! I figure at 55 kgs I can do that if they are happy about 6' + obese men who are only carrying 10 kg hand luggage then so be it. Bring on the days of weigh the person and their luggage to come up with an air fare and no, that's not discrimination as currently I am being discriminated against!!!
    poppsy
    27th Nov 2013
    7:43pm
    Weigh the person and the luggage together. I like that idea. It's only fair.
    MandM
    27th Nov 2013
    9:04pm
    If the seat can recline to a certain position it is my space not your ''personal ''space - I agree when food is served all seats should be upright but after that if I want to recline it is my choice not yours
    poppsy
    27th Nov 2013
    9:51pm
    Maybe the solution to reclining seats is to have them all "sliding" seats, like some airlines have. Then everyone is happy.
    Fred
    27th Nov 2013
    11:42pm
    TWO PET HATES People who feel they must start to queue at the departure gate before the flight is called, don't they realise the seats are reserved.
    People who hang over the luggage carousel watching for their cases, if they would stand back we could all see.
    sandyfaye
    28th Nov 2013
    2:12pm
    A MISSED OPPORTUNITY: I was on a flight back from Wellington, New Zealand with Air New Zealand in the mid afternoon on November 18th. I was seated between two very nice men and one of them started a conversation some way into the flight. He appeared single (as am I) and hinted on possibly assisting me to get home. He was cultured, pleasant looking, well spoken and I DIDN'T GIVE HIM MY PHONE NUMBER. What's wrong with me? His final comment accompanied with a smile was "I enjoyed talking to you. Keep up the singing". Oh my! One should be more forward in these situations, I suppose.
    Greg
    22nd Mar 2016
    8:40am
    To all the pensioners commenting fly first class then those problems don't exist - I'm sure you can afford it. :)


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles