From rushing to being the first in the queue at boarding to taking your shoes off on the plane there is a whole host of things that can leave you put upon by fellow flyers. Leading etiquette expert Jo Bryant offers her top 10 etiquette tips to improve the flying experience.
Many of us cringe when we see someone begging to swap seats with a random stranger before taking off. Should we even ask?
“Simply not liking where you are sitting isn’t a good enough reason to move – you need to validate your request. For example, if there is a spare bulkhead seat and you are very tall, you could point this out. If it isn’t possible to swap or move, don’t get angry or rude; simply accept it’s a no-go with a smile and good grace.”
2Shoes on or off?
Nobody likes to see bare, sweaty feet – but that doesn’t stop some people. Jo explains that keeping your shoes on is better manners, but it is also seen as acceptable to take them off for longer flights.
“Be sure that your feet are suitable for public viewing (or in socks) and are completely odour free. Keep them to yourself: never put them on the seat or, worst of all, rest them on the armrest of the seat in front.”
3Get ready for a smooth passage through security
Going through security is stressful and it’s never helped by the person in front of you who seems the have missed every single sign outlining the very clear rules around liquids, what can stay in your bag, and what needs to be taken out.
Jo explains it’s simply good manners to ensure you’re organised:
“Know where your electronics are, have your liquids bagged and ready, and clear your pockets in advance. Don’t hold everyone up by rummaging through your bag hunting for your tablet or setting off the detectors with your belt. The rules are clear so plan ahead and stick to them”.
Some run across the airport as soon as the gate is announced to make sure we’re at the front of the line. Others watch from a distance thinking ‘we’re all going to get on regardless’.
“Some people like to be in the queue promptly before the gate opens, whereas others like to board the plane later on. It’s really a matter of personal preference but, either way, queue in an orderly fashion, respect other people’s personal space, and when it comes to flying, holding up the whole plane by boarding late is never going to cut it as being ‘fashionably late’. “
5To drink or not to drink?
Having a few drinks before take-off can be part of the travel experience – but it’s never fun when a passenger on a plane has clearly had a few too many. Jo suggests sipping smartly:
“A glass or two in departures is fine, but attempting to board if you are worse-for-wear is disrespectful to other passengers and the crew. You risk feeling ill on the flight, being unsteady as you move along the cabin, irritating to fellow passengers or, worse of all, even being denied boarding”
6Chatting to the stranger sitting next to you.
Is it acceptable to start small talk with the person sitting next to you?
“It is good manners to acknowledge the person next to you but read their body language carefully. It is usually pretty clear whether someone wants to chat or keep themselves to themselves. Be helpful and willing (pass trays/drinks, get up to let them out etc), but be respectful of their personal space and levels of sociability”
There’s nothing worse than being on a plane when the person next to you pulls out stinky food. Jo suggests it is actually bad manners.
“The confines of the cabin, combined with limited airflow, make smelly food a definite no. If the meals served by the airline are particularly strong smelling, then that is out of passengers’ control, but bringing stinky sandwiches or fast food onboard is inconsiderate and selfish”.
Inconsiderate seat reclining has been the reason drinks have spilt, laptops dropped and even resulted in fist fights. Though everyone is entitled to recline adding a little etiquette goes a long way.
Don’t recline immediately after take-off, or recline during drink/mealtimes. It’s best to wait to press the button until the cabin lights have been dimmed and the quiet time of the flight is underway. When things start to get busy again – a pre-landing meal, preparation for arrival etc. – then move back to a more upright position to give everyone behind you enough space”
9To clap or not to clap
You may think clapping at landing is a form of praise. The truth is it is actually rude to the pilots. Here’s why:
“Applause is not necessary after a landing and is rude to the pilots. If the landing is good, clapping suggests surprise at such skill; if the landing is bad, applause would be insultingly sarcastic.”
10Getting off the plane
Some flyers seem to be on a mission to be the first off, whilst some stay in their seats and wait for the rush to slow. The only way to easily be the first off is to “spend the extra on a seat near the door rather than pushing or barging your way down the aisle”
The rule is simple: wait your turn but be ready. Have your things packed up and help others who are trying to reach for bags in the overhead lockers. When it’s time to get off, let people out from some of the rows immediately in front of you as you move down the plane.”
About Jo Bryant
Jo is an etiquette expert, working at Debrett’s for over 10 years. She’s taught British etiquette to groups and individuals all over the world and has appeared on the BBC, ITV and featured in the Telegraph, Times, and Guardian.
This article was supplied by SkyParkSecure.