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Proper flying etiquette begins before you even board the plane. Have your boarding pass and ID ready as you approach airport security. If you’re waiting in line, start thinking ahead; you can speed up the process by removing your watch and belt, pulling out your laptop, and separating your liquids before you reach the conveyor. This will get you—and everyone behind you—to the gates faster.
As airlines squeeze in more and more people per flight, passengers fight for the same bin space. To maximize room in the overhead compartment for other travelers, place your bag vertically rather than horizontally on the shelf. And only put one carry-on bag in the bin; the other one can fit in the open space under the seat in front of you.
While you’re loading your carry-on bags into the overhead compartment, offer to hoist a fellow passenger up there, too. Not only is it kind, but it could make the boarding process more efficient for everyone else.
Airlines sometimes block out certain seats or charge extra fees for adjacent ones, making it tough for family members to buy seats together. If you’re travelling solo, offer to switch seats so that a family can sit beside each other; it’s a kind gesture that they won’t forget. But be sure to delay swapping until the plane has reached cruising altitude, as switching seats while everyone is boarding can be an inconvenience for those standing in the aisles.
In the cramped quarters of an airplane, maintaining your personal space will go a long way to make a smoother ride for everyone. Let the middle-seat passenger use the armrests (it’s the least you can do), and keep your legs within the width of the chair frame.
It’s as important to be mindful of your personal belongings as it is your personal space. Avoid hitting other passengers with your bag as you walk down the aisles by keeping it in front of you and close to your body. And once you sit down, you should stay there, so make sure you have everything you will need for the flight once you settle in. Reaching over other passengers to access the overhead storage during the flight is uncomfortable for everyone.
Although some people pass the time on an airplane through conversations with strangers, others would prefer to keep to themselves. Be mindful of the cues your fellow passenger is giving; if they avoid eye contact, leave them be. If you do strike up a conversation, speak in soft tones, as loud and disruptive conversation can disturb the rest of the cabin. If you want to win over fellow passengers, clue them into these items you can still get for free on planes.
Cramped quarters are no place to break out a pungent tuna sandwich. If you bring food to snack on during the trip, opt for less intrusive goodies like nuts or pretzels. Your fellow passengers will thank you.
Sleep with consideration for your surroundings and other travellers. Only lean back in your seat if you absolutely must; reclining your seat may be more comfortable for you, but it makes a tight space even tighter for the person behind you. A travel pillow is a great tool because it helps you sleep without invading other people’s space. And beware of snoring; you could risk getting an unpleasant awakening from a flight attendant or fellow traveller.
When the plane lands, chaos ensues as everyone tries to be the first through the door. Be courteous of other people’s belongings in the overhead compartment as you reach for your own, and offer to help them get their bags if you can. And as you leave, take the time to thank your flight attendants—they will appreciate your kindness.
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