Traveling for most of us, is an exciting experience that broadens the mind. That said, it is true that some trips can become a headache if you encounter inconsiderate travelers along the way.
We share here nine travel etiquette tips from our in-house experts, to help avoid faux pas that might offend other travelers.
- Respect other people’s personal space. this varies country to country, but one thing is universal: nobody likes an armrest invader or a manspreader. When it comes to armrests, the custom dictates one per passenger. Typically, the armrest that has your media and electrical outlets will be the one you use. Exception to the rule, however, is in triple-seat rows, where the middle passenger has rights to both armrests. This is because the window passenger has control of the window shade and the aisle passenger has the ability to stretch their legs. Whereas the middle seat traveler is sandwiched between two travelers and, therefore, outranks in the armrest stakes.
As for reclining, it’s every traveler’s right to do so but a courtesy peek before lowering your seat is crucial. Reclining is a no-go during meal times or if behind you there’s a tall passenger whose knees would be squeezed, if there is a child-in-lap or an open tray table where drinks or a laptop is balanced.
- Mind the back of the seat in front of you. Grabbing the back of the seat in front of you as you walk in the aisle or in your row can be unpleasantly jarring to the person sitting in it. Copy the flight attendants who balance themselves in the aisle by grabbing the luggage compartments above their heads, rather than the seat backs.
- Refrain from constant movement. Nervous leg syndrome? Frequent trips to the toilet? Regularly rummaging in the overhead compartment? Up-and-down movement can annoy your fellow passengers, particularly those in your row whose feet you may have trampled. Flight fidgets should always choose an aisle to minimize fellow traveler disruption.
- Don’t climb over sleeping passengers. When you’re on a ten-hour flight, sleep can be your savior. If you are in a middle or aisle seat, alert your neighbors that you will probably fall asleep and how it’s totally fine for them to gently nudge you should they need to vacate their own seat and stretch their legs. This will minimize any worry they may be having about disturbing you. Have also some compassion on the sleepyheads who don’t want to hear about your next meeting. Hushed tones, at all times on flights - no matter the time.
- Read the cues. It is nice to be nice and, sometimes, a long-haul flight can lead, if not to a friendship, to enlightening conversations. Many people, however, enjoy flight anonymity and silence. Keep this in mind before you sit down. If you need to introduce yourself when you sit down to get a feel for the other person’s mood, do so, but if he or she quickly dismisses you by opening a book or pretends to go to sleep, be respectful and stop talking.
- Remember: Smell is the strongest human sense. Perfumes, aftershaves and pungent food are a no go for a flight, no matter how much you love them. A lot of people have chemical sensitivities, so be considerate when everyone is seated close together where scents may aggravate. Embarking a journey in a metal tube with recycled air is no place for anything potent.
- Organize your hand luggage. Put your headphones, medication, tissues and snacks in a ziplocked bag that will go under the seat in front of you or in your seatback pocket. Don’t be that passenger who needs to get into the overhead storage during a flight and dig for items that could well spill over into your neighbor’s lap. Plan and pack ahead when it comes to your in-flight necessities.
- Go with the flow. You are the last one to board and despite being seated in 9F, your luggage can only be stowed in the overhead compartments 15 rows back. This should pose no issue if you have your inflight necessity zip-log bag ready so accept your fate, and go with the flow. If you have a tight connection for your next flight, let the flight attendants know so they can get your bag to you prior to landing. If not, exercise your patience. Wait for other passengers to disembark before retrieving your hand luggage, rather than interrupting and slowing down disembarkation for everyone.
- Be ready. Long queues at security checks are rough. No matter how well you prepare, the line will always be annoying. People will be in a hurry and they will complain. Kids will cry, teenagers will be texting, and the busy business person will be glued to their emails. To ease the journey, dress the part (no jewelry, belts, heels with multiple straps) so that should you need to remove any items that you can easily without holding up the line. Have your liquids and tech ready while in line to place in tray. Essentially there is no shortcut or velvet rope to sneak under so take a Zen approach to the security line and realize patience is a virtue… Namaste.