Top 9 Rules of airtiquette

‘Tis the season for crowded airports and full airplanes. It’s all too easy to let the stress of flying during this hectic time take the joy out of the holidays, but not if we all work together to make the collective journey as smooth as possible. To help, we’ve compiled these nine rules of airtiquette that will have you taking on air travel like a (very pleasant and thoughtful) pro. If we all lived by these helpful reminders, getting from point A to point B would be a breeze, any time of the year.
Want to give yourself and others the gift of smoother air travel this year? Here are some little things to remember to pack in your carry-on – deodorant, hand sanitizer and a neck pillow. And here are a few things to check at the gate – tuna sandwiches, PDAs and germs. For more suggestions on travel manners, check out these nine rules from’s tips on airtiquette by Amanda Festa:
1. Respect others’ personal space
If you’re a plane sleeper, it may be a good idea to invest in one of those neck pillows so you don’t find yourself cuddled up with the person next to you. Early morning and red-eye flights are tough, and a good nap helps pass the time nicely. But sitting next to a fellow passenger does not make the two of you cuddle buddies. Please respect your fellow passengers’ space when you float off to dreamland. And, while we’re on the topic, please keep your legs, arms and luggage inside your designated seat area for the remainder of your flight.
2. Treat seat backs kindly
There isn’t much room on a plane. The seat back is the only cushion separating us in these cramped quarters. And they’re getting slimmer all the time. So please keep the poking and kicking to a minimum, and use a soft touch on that interactive screen. Also, remember when you yank on the seat in front of you to stand up or reposition, you are rocking the world of whoever is sitting in it. And, of course, cranking your seat back into the lap of the person behind you will win you no in-flight friends (especially during meal time), nevermind voiding any unspoken agreement that they’ll treat your seat with kindness.
3. Keep your germs in check
The last thing any of us wants as a souvenir from our travels is the cold from the person sitting next to us on the plane. When sharing air in a confined space, it’s more important than ever to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. No one likes a Mr. or Mrs. Sniffles (unless it’s the name of your pet pug, because that’s adorable). If you need a tissue, ask around or grab one from the lavatory. Whatever you do, just ask me for one instead of using your sleeve, please. Also, they make travel-sized hand sanitizer for a reason, so don’t leave home without it.
4. Mind your aromas
Speaking of sharing the air with your neighbor: aromas waft and linger on a plane, and no one wants to sit next to Pig Pen. So if you’re craving that tuna sandwich with a side of Funyuns, think again. Stick with acceptable snacks like grapes or crackers with (non-stinky) cheese. Likewise, no one wants to smell your feet on a seven-hour flight, so please keep your shoes on. Your toes will have plenty of time to be free on a sandy beach. Additionally, just because you love your favorite perfume or cologne doesn’t mean you need to bathe in it before your flight. As a rule of thumb, stick to one spritz before you jet set — and, when in close quarters, a little deodorant can go a long way.
5. Support a calm and quiet vibe
There are certain social mores that come with traveling. For instance, even if you took a shot of espresso before the red-eye, respect your neighbors who are trying to get some shut-eye. Keep your seat-back TV or iPad headphones at an acceptable level because that ‘80s rock you’re listening to isn’t exactly a lullaby. You and the Eurythmics shouldn’t be the only ones experiencing “Sweet Dreams.” Similarly, watch the volume of the sound track (or your personal laugh track) from the movie you’re screening. Got a juicy story or some good gossip to share? It can be hard to hold it in, especially after a mini bottle of Pinot Grigio, but try to keep the excitement and overall volume down. Although it’s your prerogative to use your overhead light, do shut it off before you don your own eye mask or zone out with a movie. And when it comes time for landing and you’re sitting in the window seat, lift the shade and share the view with those unlucky flyers crammed in the middle seat.
6. Check the PDA at the gate
People choose the window seat for the view, not so they can be forced to third wheel the couple next to them. Also, if you booked the window and aisle seats in hopes of having the middle seat free to canoodle, please offer to switch before you start reaching around for a hand to hold. And, while a hand held during take off is totally acceptable, a flight isn’t the time to “Netflix and chill” with your sweetie while pretending to watch the tiny airplane TV in front of you. Likewise, don’t put your rocky relationship on display (read: no in-flight fighting, please). If I can hear your argument over my music, it means you’re too loud. Oh, and don’t even think about breaking up mid-air. At least wait until baggage claim to deal with your, well, baggage.
7. Take it easy on the boozing
We don’t want to be a buzz kill. After all, a cocktail can be a fun way to start a vacation a little early or relax after a long travel day. However, no one really wants to hear you slurring your speech after copious amounts of mini bottles or yelling at the flight attendant when he or she cuts you off. Pro tip: Elevation really does lower your tolerance. Plus, who wants to arrive at their destination with a hangover?
8. Don’t crowd the crowd
Are you in Zone 1? Great. Please be ready to board when the gate crew starts the process. If not, please back up. And when the seatbelt sign goes off at the end of the flight? Rushing down the aisle to get two rows ahead while others grab their bags gains you nothing but stares and ill will. At baggage claim, you can see your suitcase coming in plenty of time to grab it. There is no need to stand elbow to elbow along the belt like you’re prepping to wrestle a greased up pig.
9. Speed the process for all
Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to remind you, things go more smoothly when we all work together. Do your part by planning ahead and being as efficient as possible. Have your liquids ready when you get to the front of the security line and get the gate check tag for your stroller before boarding the plane. Be as accommodating to others as you can. If you do not have a connecting flight, it might be a good idea to sit back and relax while stressed-out fellow passengers leap for their luggage and hit the ground running to their next flight, which starts boarding in 10 minutes. Or, if you see someone struggling to take down luggage from the overhead bin – help ‘em out. We know traveling can sometimes be stressful, but being kind and helpful to your fellow flyers goes a long way.
Amanda Festa is a Boston-based writer who loves to travel and believes planning her next adventure is half the fun. Amanda is a Content and Social Media Executive at Cheapflights.