Some manners, at 38,000 feet, go far

On my way to Los Angeles from Miami, something happened to me that had never happened before on an airplane.

I had to deal with an out of control passenger. She was sitting behind me and she was extremely loud and obnoxious. She tormented me through the whole flight with her loud giggles. She moved around excessively and was constantly pulling my seat back.

I was horrified because people are usually extremely nice on a plane.

This experience made me realize that many people are not aware of airplane etiquette. On an airplane, sometimes we are confined to literally rub elbows with a complete stranger. In such a time, a little consideration can go along way to make both of your flights more enjoyable or at least less miserable. While traveling by air, it will be more confortable for everyone if we all follow this simples etiquette rules.

1. While entering the airplane and walking towards your seat keep your bag in front of you and low to the ground. If you hold it up and at your side, you will inevitably hit seated passengers on their arms or heads.

An American Airlines Boeing 777 at a gate at Los Angeles International Airport, being readied for a flight to Shanghai.

2. Always try to utilize the overhead compartment above your own seat row. If you use another compartment, then the passenger sitting near that compartment will have to wait until everyone has left the plane to get his or her bags. Taking the overhead compartment of another passenger is not only rude but it will delay departure as he or she searches for their misplaced bags.

3. Keep your chair upright at least until told that it can be reclined. Do not recline you chair as soon as you find your seat because you make it harder for the people behind you to access their seat. When reclining you chair be conscious of the person behind you. Check first if they have a tray or they getting something from their bag at their feet, you do not want to accidentally bump someone’s head or knock over a drink.

Be mindful if the person behind you is tall or has a child. If so, do not recline your seat all the way out of consideration. If you are tall, get a bulkhead or exit row seat so you can have more space. While traveling with children make sure they do not bump or kick the seat in front of them. Make sure the child has plenty of things to keep him/her busy.

When another passenger yanks at your seat and, after your ask him or her to stop, they refuse to do so, ask the flight attendant to handle the situation. If they can’t or won’t, then ask politely but urgently for the chief flight attendant so he/she can handle the situation.

4. While walking in the aisle, avoid grabbing the back of the seat in front of you. If you grab the seat back of another passenger, you are making it uncomfortable for him or her. Do as the flight attendants and balance yourself by grabbing the overhead luggage compartments.

5. The most important rule of etiquette is to respect personal space. If the person you are sitting next to does not want to chat then do not push for conversation. Some people just want to get work done or sleep. Be mindful of the volume of your iPod. When watching a movie in your personal laptop, remember that people behind you can see it, so respect them by not watching a film with high levels of nudity.

Be mindful of your elbows and do not hug all the armrest. Be courteous, of the people sitting in the middle since they have less space to begin with. Make sure you use your own armrest and outlet. Keep your stuff near you; do not have it spread out everywhere. If you are in an aisle seat, do not lean over to watch the view. Bring your own reading material; reading over someone’s shoulder is irritating and rude.

6. Be considerate of other passengers when exiting the plane. Do not push your way out. Let the person nearest to the exit disembark first. When your turn comes please exit the plane rapidly so other people can get to their connecting flights.

Following this advice will make your flight much smoother and comfortable. Being considerate of your fellow passengers is the best way to make your flying experience as pleasant as possible and, of course, reduces the chance that someone will not write a blog post about your complete lack of manners.

Rosa Orihuela ’13
University of Miami

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