March 3, 2024

10 divisive points of airline etiquette

There’s no denying that airports and aeroplanes can be the gateway to amazing destinations. Whether clients are heading for the striking fjords of Iceland or the relaxing beaches of Saint Lucia, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to boarding a flight. 

Even so, there are some travel habits that can leave seasoned globetrotters with second-hand embarrassment. The travel experts at SkyParkSecure paired up with leading etiquette expert Jo Bryant to discover passengers’ biggest travelling turn-offs.

Bryant’s top tips include ‘Don’t recline immediately after take-off’ and ‘wait for your turn but be ready’ during disembarkation.

1. Emergency seat swap 

What if a passenger is randomly allocated the dreaded middle seat? While some clients are content to stay where they are, there are others who will try to convince strangers to move seats before take-off. This can lead to much awkwardness, especially if begging becomes involved and the passenger in question is quite happy in their spot. If this happens, it is polite for inquiring passengers to validate their request. For example, if a traveller is very tall, they may need a spare bulkhead seat.

2. Shoes on or off?

Another travel turn-off comes in the form of bare, sweaty feet. Although it is good manners to keep your shoes on, it is also acceptable to take them off for longer flights. Passengers should, however, ensure that their feet are suitable for public viewing (socks are preferable) and completely odour-free. Those who rest their feet on the seat or armrests make for an impolite flight companion. 

3. Round of applause 

Coming in at third place is, unsurprisingly, clapping on a plane. When there is a round of applause, it may come off as rude to the pilots. Not only is it unnecessary, but it can also be insulting if the landing is less than ideal. Although clapping after a good landing suggests skilful flying, it is easy for travellers to cross the line into impoliteness if anything unexpected occurs.

4. Funky food

There is nothing worse than being on a plane when the passenger next to you pulls out a pungent tuna sandwich. As passengers are in a confined cabin with limited airflow, it is understandable why eating smelly food is a no-no. If the meals being served by the airline are particularly strong, that is out of the travellers’ control. However, it is preferable for clients to avoid such foods. 

5. Security blunders

Going through security is arguably one of the most stressful parts of a traveller’s journey. This sometimes-lengthy process is made even longer when a passenger seems to have missed every single sign outlining the clear rules around liquids, what can stay in their bag, and what needs to be taken out. To avoid this, travellers should know where their electronics are, have their liquids bagged and ready, and clear their pockets in advance. It can be a great annoyance to passengers in the queue when someone is rummaging through their bag, holding up the line.

6. Fashionably late

Some passengers run across the airport as soon as their gate is announced to make sure they’re at the front of the line. Then there are those who watch from a distance wondering why they need to rush. Although this particular turn-off is simply down to personal preference, it is good etiquette to queue in an orderly fashion, respect other people’s personal space, and avoid holding up the plane by boarding late. 

7. Tempting tipple

While having a few drinks before take-off is perfectly fine, it is never fun to sit near a passenger who has had too many. Those who drink past their limit risk feeling ill on the flight, being unsteady as they move along the cabin, irritating their fellow passengers, and even being denied boarding. If you ask us, it makes perfect sense to sip smartly!

8. The art of small talk

To talk or not to talk? It’s the age-old question that every passenger on a plane sitting next to a stranger contemplates. Acknowledging the person next to you is deemed good manners but talking to someone who would prefer to read a book or watch a movie is not. Travellers should read their neighbour’s body language carefully and use their judgement. Every passenger’s personal space and levels of sociability must be respected.

9. Disembarkation dance

Some travellers seem to be in rush to hurry off the plane, while others stay in their seats and wait for the bustle to die down. It is good etiquette to pack up your things in preparation and help others who are trying to reach for their bags in overhead lockers. When it’s time to get off, passengers should let out those in front as they move down the plane. Although anxious flyers can’t wait to disembark, they shouldn’t make it other people’s problem. They should spend extra money on a seat near the door rather than pushing their way down the aisle.

10. Rest and recline

The final turn-off comes in the form of a passenger reclining in front of another. This difficult situation can feel like the traveller at the back has no personal space. Despite this, we also acknowledge that the recline feature is there for a reason. It is polite to hold off reclining immediately after take-off or during drink services or mealtimes. Waiting until the cabin lights have dimmed will be much appreciated. Once things start to get busy again, an upright position is best.

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