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Airplane etiquette is top of mind for me right now. This past year, I’ve had the opportunity to fly numerous times both domestically and internationally. Most often, I’ve squeezed myself into the cramped middle seat in economy but have also had the luxury of flying first class on Lufthansa from Frankfurt, Germany with a red rose and glass of champagne presented to me upon arrival to my lie-flat seat. And, I’ve experienced most everything in between, including business class and economy plus.

But what stands out each time is that airplane etiquette among passengers, especially in economy, sometimes totally shocks me. Or, the lack of etiquette, I should say.

So, with the holiday season approaching, I want to share some airplane etiquette tips – 8 things not to do. Most people don’t intend to be rude or inconsiderate when flying; I think they just aren’t aware of how their lack of etiquette reflects poorly on them and how it affects, and possibly offends, those around them.

So, whether you’re flying first class or economy class this holiday season, use these 8 airplane etiquette tips to stay in the good graces of your fellow passengers and flight attendants.

  1. Don’t dress like you’re going to the gym. Even on overseas flights or long domestic flights, you can choose attire that looks presentable and still be comfortable. This not only respects other passengers, but also shows that you respect yourself. I like to at least dress “business casual” which for me means a pair of comfy Eddie Bauer ponte knit slacks and a layered tank and light-weight cardigan. One never knows who you will meet on a plane and you want to give a good first impression. I recently observed a man on the Skylink train at the Dallas airport clad in pajama pants…with a suit coat. For real! Hmm…

  2. Don’t remove your shoes and expose your bare feet. At least wear socks, or better yet, bring along some disposable slippers to wear. If you’re in business or first class, slippers are complimentary.

  3. Don’t stand in the aisle to take items from your carry-on that goes under the seat. Step into your row so other passengers can get past you.

  4. Don’t let children watch movies on personal devices without earbuds. Most young people and adults are considerate and wear ear buds for listening to music or watching movies. But, what I see lacking is children using personal devices without  earbuds. And, everyone within 3 rows is hearing the latest episode of Peppa Pig. So, parents, be sure to bring along extra headsets for your little ones, too!

  5. Don’t try to carry on lengthy conversations with a seatmate. Do, greet your seatmate with, “Good morning/afternoon.” And, if you sense rapport, you might ask, “Where are you headed? What takes you there?” However, if your seatmate sends signals such as putting on earbuds or getting out a book, observe their body language and let them rest or read. But, upon landing, it’s courteous and okay to wish him or her a pleasant day/evening.

  6. Don’t hog the armrest. The window seat gets the window; the aisle seat gets the aisle. The middle seat gets both arm rests. It may be an unwritten “rule” but it’s the courteous way to give the middle person some space.

  7. Don’t be one of “those people” who place both carry-on items in the overhead bin. Place the smaller item under your seat so that all passengers have bin space.

  8. Get off the plane efficiently. I recently observed a man who, when it was his turn to exit his row, took forever to retrieve his things from the overhead bin. First, he pulled down his coat, methodically put it on and zipped it up, then retrieved his backpack and put it on, and finally struggled with his bulky suitcase from the overhead bin. Really? Next time, just carry the coat and back pack across your arm until you get into the terminal and don’t make the rest of us wait unduly long!

Good airplane manners are part of good travel etiquette. Using these 8 tips will reflect well on you, and make flying the friendly skies more “friendly” for all passengers.

You may also like to read: Luggage Etiquette: Just in Time for the Holiday Season, a Washington Post article in which I was interviewed.

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Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer and speaker. As an authority on etiquette and protocol issues facing today’s global business arena, she shares engaging and interactive content with corporate clients from a variety of industries across the United States. She is the etiquette expert for Fox23 in Tulsa and has been quoted or featured in local and national media outlets including Forbes, Money and the Washington Post.

Photo source: Rachel Wagner