Flying Etiquette: In-flight Tips

The summer months are usually accompanied by a great deal of traveling—especially by air. While the TSA may have specific rules about what you can and cannot bring onto airplanes, there are also rules of flying etiquette when it comes to your behavior in-flight. I spoke with a representative at American Airlines who shed some light on a few commonly asked questions.

1. Storing your carry-on’s. We all know we are allowed two carry-on items; one that goes in the overhead bin and a smaller bag that goes underneath the seat in front of you. It’s most courteous to place your larger bag in a bin closest to you so the people sitting in front of you (and behind) can have access to their own bag during and after the. That means if you are in row 124 A, it’s not a great idea to place your almost oversized carry-on bag in first class!


2. Tipping a flight attendant. Whether your flight attendant serves you a glass of water or brings you an alcoholic beverage, you do not, nor should you offer, to tip her/him. A genuine smile and a pleasant “Thank you” is all that is necessary.


3. Dress code. There are no wardrobe requirements to fly but dressing “smart” is an obvious choice. Wear minimal jewelry and don’t forget to wear socks unless you want to walk barefoot through the security check. Wearing shoes that you don’t have to lace, buckle or tie is a plus and dressing like you respect your fellow travel mates is both courteous and considerate. Go light on the cologne and eat your tuna sandwich before you get on the plane.


4. Three things you shouldn’t do on a flight. I was on a flight last week, sitting across from a woman that was filing her nails – what was she thinking? Save the manicure for the hotel spa, keep your shoes on, when you cough or sneeze cover your mouth and think twice before watching an R rated movie with a young child sitting next you.


5. First class vs. coach lavatory use. You can use first class if you are on a domestic flight or flying domestically oversees, but when traveling on an international flight back, TSA requires you to use the lavatory in the cabin you purchased a ticket. While some airlines say they don’t have a problem with coach passengers using first class facilities, we have all been witness to a flight attendant redirecting a passenger to another restroom – for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s as simple as a safety issue.


Your comfort is important to the airlines and your manners are important to everyone on the airplane.


Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.

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