Hugh: Etiquette Expert Shares the Unwritten Rules of Flying
Written by Hugh Campbell on June 5, 2023
Summer vacation season is basically here, which means lots of people will be flocking to airports to travel to destinations all over the world. When you’re flying, there are some official rules that everyone is held to, and then there are things that may not be codified, but most people can generally agree you shouldn’t do. One etiquette expert recently shared her thoughts on the behaviours you should stop doing on flights, and if we all stuck to them, air travel would be a much better experience. First up, stop holding up the line of people when you board the plane by stopping to put your bags in the overhead bins. Instead, get in your seat with your bag on your lap until the rest of the plane boards, then put your things away once there’s no line. Second, if you have an aisle seat, don’t extend your legs into the aisle to give yourself more leg room. Even if the coast is clear, people will eventually be using the aisle to get to and from the washroom, and flight attendants will always be back and forth. Swapping seats with someone is fine, but only if your seats are equivalent. Asking someone near the front to swap for a seat near the back is a no-no, as well as asking someone with a window or aisle seat to move to a middle seat.
Planes are confined spaces, so if something smells, it really smells. Whether you bring your own food or buy something on the plane, try to pick foods that are considerate of other passengers. Avoid seafood and foods that are heavy on onion or garlic. While we’re talking about smells, if you have smelly feet, it is a huge faux-pas to remove your shoes or socks. If you recently showered and are wearing fresh socks others probably won’t notice, but the safe call is to keep your shoes on.
When it comes to what you wear on the plane, it makes sense to dress comfortably, especially for long flights, but wearing pajamas is a bit too far. When you get dressed before you head to the airport, just remember that you’re going out in public. It’s simply inappropriate to board a plane in PJs, revealing, or ratty clothing. Flying with kids is tricky and nobody wants their child to cry, but parents should do anything they can to keep their kids from being a disruption. Bring along any blanket, toy, or other item that comforts them, limit sugar intake before the flight, and make sure they have a good night’s sleep beforehand.