Travel Etiquette Revisited

Travel can be stressful at the best of times. Delays to flights, unanticipated schedule changes at the gate, flight routes and close body contact with strangers. It’s enough to drive some people insane. A quick scan of the Internet provides hundreds of examples of air rage, in the skies or on the ground, inside the terminal building.

Many of us have stories of our own personal experiences in the air including the screaming child, the seat kicker, or the person who is seated by the window who takes frequent breaks to the bathroom.

Society equips us with the tools to safely navigate our skyward experience through the simple use of etiquette. By adhering to the simple combination of etiquette and respect for others, any journey by air can at the least, be a pleasant one.

Rule # 1 - Boarding When Called

At the gate lounge it’s important to listen to the announcements – that’s why they announce them! The approximate time allowed for boarding an aircraft is fifteen minutes. Logical grouping of seating positions is called for, to avoid a scramble aboard the aircraft and subsequent crowding of the aisles on board.

At the gate remain seated, relax and listen for your seat row to be called, then when (and only then) make your way to the counter, take your place in the line and be patient. Those in wheelchairs, the elderly and those traveling with children are first to board, then the forward aircraft rows, followed by the middle, and finally the rear row seating.

Rule # 2 - Be Ready With Documents In Hand

When adhering to rule one of boarding and awaiting the row call announcement, this is the time to gather all required documentation for the boarding check-in process. Passport and boarding pass should be presented together for easy visual inspection by personnel at the counter. It never ceases to amaze me, the number of people fumbling through their travel wallets, pockets and handbags for their documentation when standing in front of the check-in personnel. Ensure all documents presented are correctly front facing, and display the main passport identification page together with the boarding pass.

Rule # 3 - Personal Space

As airline seating has changed over the years to a smaller, more tightly packed cabin configuration, this rule can be the most challenging of all. The arm rest is considered prime real estate, and a passenger's body mass should not encroach onto the barrier, that is, the arm rest. There is however one caveat – this is the concession granted to the unfortunate passenger in the middle seat. The arm rest to both the left and right of the middle seat holder should be granted 'exclusive access' as compensation for their position in the sardine can that is, the aircraft.


Rule # 4 - Noise

Whilst you may appreciate the thumping beats coming from your earphones, take a moment to remove them and listen to hear if the music is too loud impacting other travelers. A good investment to avoid this mistake is by investing in a set of noise canceling headphones. There are logical benefits to you and those seated around you.

Rule # 5 - Personal Hygiene

This should really be a no-brainer! Always, always take a shower, use deodorant and wear clean clothes before getting on an aircraft. Consider too, the use of perfume or cologne, as it can be overpowering to some. Lastly, and most importantly, do not remove your shoes if you are wearing stinky sneakers and boots. The smell can be totally overwhelming for the fellow traveler.

Rule # 6 - Be Kind, Don't Recline

To recline or not to recline? This one action alone has caused many an air rage incident. Whilst at times a passenger may wish to recline into some semblance of comfort, please consider the person behind you. Airline seats should not be reclined during food and drink service periods. Take a polite look-back at the person behind you, and simply ask before reclining.

Rule # 7 - Dress Code

Hey, it's not the beach! Dress standards and common courtesy to others is universal. Wear comfortable, light weight clothing without exposing yourself to others. Those short-shorts are not a good look, seriously. Many airlines are now policing dress standards during the boarding process, including clothing displaying offensive messages.

Rule # 8 - Eating And Drinking

It can be difficult to accommodate food and beverages on a such a small tray. Compounding this is the lack of elbow room required to get food from the tray, into your mouth. When eating and drinking from either the aisle or window seat, dining can be a little easier by favoring the arm opposite to the center seat. This frees up space for the person seated in the center row, and decreases the likelihood of an elbow bumping incident, and the consequential spillage.

Rule # 9 - Traveling With Children

Concessions for those traveling with children really should be a given. Anyone that has experienced this, sympathy and patience should radiate from within. For those traveling with children, ensure a sufficient supply of coloring books together with a range of entertainment options for the little ones. Take along something on hand for children to chew on during the key times during take off, landing and when running into turbulence, ensuring their little ears don't become blocked causing discomfort and irritation.

Rule # 10 - Surrender To The Splendour Of Travel

To ensure an anxious free trip, don't take things to seriously. Relax and enjoy the color and movement of interacting with people from all around the world. Plan ahead, pack light and be prepared – these three things can go a long way to ensuring happy, stress free travel in the skies.

Do you have any travel tips to share?

Sandra Hawkins

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