It’s not your imagination. Your personal space on airplanes really is shrinking. Several major airlines have squeezed rows closer together and decreased seat sizes to pack more passengers on each flight. Factor in airport security, long lines, delays, and general travel stress and you have a recipe for passenger conflicts.
It’s more important than ever to mind your manners while traveling by plane. Perhaps we can no longer expect to be comfortable in air travel, but we always have control over our own actions in any given situation. Do your part to keep the skies courteous and friendly.
Here are the 10 biggest Airplane Pet Peeves:
1. Reclining your seat without looking or asking first. There’s been a flurry of news media lately on the rudeness of airline passengers reclining seats and using locking devices to keep other passengers from reclining. You can no longer just automatically lean your seat back, especially if you are seated in front of a tall person, a person traveling with a child on their lap, or someone using their tray table. Check first, ask politely and take only the room you need. If someone requests you remain upright, it’s most appropriate to oblige them.
2. Asking to trade a middle seat for an aisle seat. Many people have strong preferences about their seat selections, and most people take the middle seat as a last resort. If you want to sit next to your friend or husband, request to trade even or down, not up.
3. Taking your shoes off. Just because you take them off at airport security doesn’t mean it’s appropriate everywhere else, especially in close quarters. If you must scratch an itch, or adjust your socks, please put your shoes back on before taking your in-flight nap. If you leave your seat to visit the lavatory, tie up your laces and keep walking.
4. Relentless talking. If you are sitting next to someone wearing earbuds, reading, or responding to you with one-word answers, take it as a sign they do not want to engage. This is one of the biggest airplane pet peeves for some. Refrain from making heavy conversation with someone who is clearly is not interested in chatting.
5. Allowing your child to run free. In this age of ever-shrinking personal space, frustration is already high. A child old enough to tell time can understand that kicking the seat in front of him is not acceptable behavior. Shouting from Aisle 16 to Aisle 21 is also not family friendly. Bring plenty of activities and snacks to keep children seated and entertained.
6. Dominating the armrest. The middle seat is the most inconvenienced and should get both arm rests. Just because you are the biggest person doesn’t mean you are entitled to the armrests. Take only your half or leave it alone entirely and figure out another way to get comfortable. If someone’s arm is already on it, refrain from inching it off as a sign of territorial aggression. If you need to stake your claim on the armrest, a polite request is the best approach: “Do you mind if I use the back half of the armrest?” Also, the armrest stays down, unless you are traveling with a spouse or family member who doesn’t mind cozying up to you.
7. Being rude to the flight attendant. Flight attendants have their hands full and their job is increasingly consumed with diffusing tensions between passengers. Help keep things civil by being polite and kind to them and your fellow passengers. It’s not their fault the plane is running behind and the weather has delayed your next flight home.
8. Talking on your phone. Ideally, etiquette calls for keeping 10 feet between you and others while talking on your cell phone. That doesn’t happen on a plane. No matter how quiet you think you are, you are still having a phone conversation surrounded by dozens of other people.
9. Putting dirty tissue or diapers in the back seat pocket. So, so wrong. Wrap them up and dispose of these properly. No one else should have to touch these. Ever.
10. Aggressively pushing your way upfront. You may be running late, but so is everyone else. If someone says something unkind as you push to the front of the line, chances are you deserve it!
Stay calm and fly on!