Once upon a time, air travel was viewed as glamorous, relaxing and exotic. Unfortunately, that reputation for glamour has morphed into one for frustration and discomfort in recent years.
Travel by airplane can still be a relaxing, Zen-like experience, though — if passengers know how to treat each other and share the space.
As a frequent traveler, you can be a part of the solution, an airline ambassador of kindness, if you will. Build good travel karma and contribute to a positive airline experience by following these 8 airplane etiquette tips.
1. Know the Security Process (and Share the Knowledge!)
As a seasoned business traveler, you most likely know the security process inside and out. You know how to pack so that your bag flies through screening, and you know what to take out of your pockets to prevent setting off metal detectors.
But it’s often frustrating to find yourself behind someone who doesn’t know these things — so don’t be afraid to provide helpful, friendly guidance. For example, help someone find the right line when they’re looking at their boarding pass and trying to decide which line is the right one — main security or TSA Pre.
2. Board (and De-Board) Quickly
This should be simple: Wait your turn to board. All airlines have some sort of boarding system that places each passenger into groups. Wait for your group to be called, and the boarding process will go smoothly.
Crowding around the jet bridge only complicates matters, creates confusion and slows things down. And there’s no benefit to be gained by inching closer to the gate before your group is called. So stay seated and relax.
Once on the plane, quickly get your baggage into the overhead bin so that others may pass by. If the gate agent tells everyone that space is limited, consider checking your bag (free of charge). If you’re sitting at the front of the plane but boarding later in the process, it’s likely there won’t be overhead space for you — and it only slows things down if you wait to check your bag.
3. Share the Overhead Bin
Overhead bin space is always at a premium. So be considerate of others and follow these simple rules:
First, only put one item in the overhead. There’s no room for you to lay your sport coat neatly inside the compartment.
Second, use the bin space near your seat. If you use the first overhead bin in coach when your seat is 20 rows back, you’re taking away someone else’s bin space.
And, finally, check a bag if it’s too big for the overhead bin. Stuffing oversized bags into overhead spaces takes a lot of time, and it also takes up space that others could use.
4. Recline Carefully
This is the biggest flashpoint in the in-flight behavior discussion. Some would say: No one should ever recline a seat! Others would say: If seats shouldn’t be reclined, why do they recline at all?
The best rule of thumb is this: be considerate. Start by looking over your shoulder before reclining. If the passenger behind you is taller than 6-feet, it’s likely a reclined seat is going to crush his or her knees. If the passenger behind you is using a tray table, it’s likely a reclined seat is going to encroach on that workspace. Recline carefully and moderately, if at all.
5. Split the Arm Rests
Some passengers take an aggressive approach to armrests, claiming as much space as possible before someone else does. But two passengers can use one armrest. There’s plenty of space for one passenger to rest his or her elbow on one edge of the armrest while the other passenger rests his or hers on the other edge.
When in doubt, the passenger in the middle seat should get access to the armrests, as the other two passengers have armrests all to themselves on either side.
6. Talk Quietly and Considerately
When traveling for business, phone calls often bleed into boarding. There’s nothing wrong with continuing your conversation once you’re aboard and before the doors close. But keep your voice down. Your fellow passengers don’t need to hear you talk sales numbers or co-worker conflict.
Also, you may love to chat up your fellow passengers during a flight. Just remember that not everyone wants to talk. Look for signs that your seatmate would like to be left alone. For example, if your neighbor continually tries to read a book, log onto a computer or close his or her eyes for a nap, take that as a sign that conversation isn’t welcome.
7. Use the Restroom Efficiently
Be sure to use the restroom before you get on the plane, especially if you’re in the window seat. Yes, if you’re flying from New York to Los Angeles, it’s only natural that you’ll need to use the restroom during the flight. But there’s no need to ask your row-mates to get up from their seats during a 1-hour flight.
Also, when using the restroom, remember that someone has to use it after you. Leave things as clean and tidy as possible, just as you would like them left for you.
8. Do What Flight Attendants Ask
Always be polite to flight attendants — and do what they ask, when they ask it. If it’s time to get off your phone for departure or to move your seat to the upright position for landing, do so immediately. Flight attendants are always here to help, so feel free to use the call button or flag one down — if you have a legitimate need.
Preparation is Part of the Solution
Airplane etiquette is important for a quality flying experience. But so too is preparing a travel itinerary that reduces stress and allows you to fly and arrive as rested and relaxed as possible.
At JTB Business Travel, we take a common sense approach to serving clients. As a comprehensive business travel agency, we work with companies and organizations large and small, providing tools, resources and services that help reduce costs while enhancing the travel experience.
Contact us today to learn more about our common sense approach to business travel.