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Airport Etiquette: My top 12 behaviour bugbears at the airport

by Sharron Livingston

I wouldn’t say that I am a grumpy traveller, but having spent the best part of 20 years regularly travelling through airports I have developed a sense of, shall we say, airport etiquette.

In an ideal world, the passage through the airport to the seat on the plane would be pleasant, seamless and part of the joy of the overall travel experience. And it could be but for one huge problem: other people.

Things happen, flights get cancelled, queues can be long yet it’s all made worse by bad behaviour.

Here are some of my behaviour bugbears:

Self-entitled travellers

There are some self-indulgent souls who have a such a well developed sense of entitlement that everyday rules don’t apply to them. They are easy to recognise – they are the ones that go to the front of the queue ahead of those already waiting. Or they can be heard haggling at check-in to have their excess luggage fee waived. They also waste time trying to blag an upgrade, have their seat changed, or decide to ask for a special meal at the last minute.

People who turn up without a passport

Those people that suddenly find at check-in that they have left their passport at home are a source of amazement. How? Why? For god’s sake. Having a passport to hand is the least you can expect from a traveller. And no, I don’t think I’m being harsh.

Unaware of airport security

I really do try to be patient, but first-time travellers or those who are simply unaware can hold things up. Even if you have no clue about airport security it doesn’t take long to bone up or to simply take a moment to read the abundance of signs that give information.

So get prepared before you get to security: Take off your coat, retrieve laptops from hand luggage and wear clothes that don’t need a belt, or jewellery that sets off the bleeper when passing through the scanner and don’t carry liquid.

By the way those small transparent plastic bags they supply at the airport are not decoration; they are supplied for you to put in your liquids and creams which must be shown. Do it before you queue so that you won’t have to waste time taking them out of your bag at the security belt.

Other people’s music or noisy games

It’s totally normal to travel with smartphones, ipads, tablets. But there is such a thing as headphones. Carrying these clever bits of technology means you can discretely listen to your podcast, music or play those games.

And while on the subject of phones –  Shouters, we can hear you and honestly we don’t want to. Your telephone calls are your business. So be aware and use your inner volume control to tone it down.

Waiting lounges are for everyone

Those of you who decide to lay across several seats because you want a nap or simply hog several seats with your bags, here’s a request: when it’s busy, don’t do it. We all want the opportunity to have a seat. So. Stop it.

Do you have a cold?

I’m sorry you are ill, but please don’t sneeze or cough near me. It’s not too much to ask is it?

Don’t tut

Here’s the scene, you are in a queue and it’s slow. Then someone behind you tuts and mutters expletives creating a negative atmosphere. It’s not helpful is it?

Late comers

Here’s another scene: everyone on the plane has finally put their bags in the overhead cabins, everyone is seated, and we are waiting. And waiting. Then it becomes clear – it’s the latecomers. Perhaps we should all clap in unison as these people make their late entry.

Perfume sellers at Duty Free shops

It’s great to browse and shop but not so great when a perfume sales person spritzes their perfume at me. When I see them armed with perfume bottle in hand and finger on the spray nozzle waiting to pounce, can you blame me for giving them a wide berth?

People who suddenly stop in a busy spot

The crowd is making good progress through the airport then all of a sudden, someone just stops. It causes a chaotic domino affect, so stay focussed and don’t stop walking until it’s safe to.

Too much “lurve”

Look, I know it’s boring standing in a zig-zag queue towards security. Or in the queue for  passport control. But really do you have to snog for everyone else to see? Get a room.

Carousel hoggers

Why, oh why do people have to take up an inordinately large amount of space by the carousel. They rush to stand in herds – often with a trolley – to wait for sight of their bag. Guess what, we all want sight of our bag. So, I’d like to offer some carousel-side training: stand a little way away from the carousel and when you see your bag heading towards you, only then approach and take it off. It’s so much more civilised.


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