Flying is supposed to be easy. But when you’re scrunched into those teeny, tiny seats, the people around you can really make or break an otherwise pleasant flight. So, in the interest of everyone getting through this cramped
ride in the sky, let’s all agree to follow these ground rules of airplane etiquette, mmkay?

Don’t Block the Aisle

man not following airplane etiquette blocking the aisles

If you’re lucky enough to score cheap round trip flights with an aisle seat, pay it forward by not blocking the walkway. Keep your belongings stored under the seat in front of you so that they’re not spilling out into the aisle. You also need to resist the urge to stretch out your legs. You, dear aisle-seat-sitter, have the responsibility to let everyone else sitting in your row get up whenever they please. Falling asleep with your tray table down makes you a barricade.

Don’t Bring Hot or Smelly Food on Board

Not keeping airplane etiquette by eating smelly food

There are few things more annoying to your fellow passengers than being trapped on an airplane with an unpleasant odor wafting through the air. Do your flight mates a favor and eat your hot meal before boarding. While snacks and sandwiches are acceptable, your fish and chips meal is not.

Don’t Take Your Shoes and Socks Off

woman not following airplane etiquette by flying with no shoes

This should go without saying. Do not under any circumstance take your socks and shoes off during the flight. Just because you do not recognize your own foot odor doesn’t mean that other passengers on the plane are immune. Also, nobody really wants to catch a glimpse of your feet.

Don’t Rush and Push Past People to Get Off the Plane

While it’s understandable to want to exit the plane as soon as possible, it’s rude to rush past people to exit the plane.  Instead, leave calmly and courteously, waiting patiently for the people in front of you to retrieve their belongings from the overhead bins.

Related: 9 Annoying Things You Should Totally Avoid Doing on a Flight

Don’t Refuse to Swap Seats So a Family Can Sit Together

family sitting together on an airplane because of airplane etiquette

Particularly in today’s complicated travel landscape, it’s not uncommon for parties to be separated on board. Be a nice person and honor requests to switch seats so that families can sit together. Keep in mind that you would want your fellow passengers to follow this simple rule of airplane etiquette as well.

Don’t Be Rude to Flight Attendants

airplane etiquette not yelling at flight attendant

Kindness can go a long way when dealing with flight attendants. You never know what kind of day they have had before you boarded the plane. Rudeness will not get you anywhere with flight attendants who have seen it all during their time in the skies.

Don’t Bother Another Passenger Wearing Headphones

Not following airplane etiquette by talking to woman with headphones

Headphones are the universal sign that a passenger doesn’t want to be bothered. So don’t do it unless it’s absolutely necessary. They’re either engrossed in what they’re listening to or simply want peace and quiet on the flight. We’ve all been there; you’re settling in for a nice inflight nap when Chatty McChatterbox plops down next to you. Cue the eye rolls and the desperate attempts to escape their constant stream of pointless small talk. Don’t be that person. Instead, let’s exchange quick pleasantries and spend the rest of the flight in silence.

Don’t Fight with Middle-Seat Passengers for Armrests

airplane etiquette not taking up armrests

We all agree that the middle seat can sometimes be the worst place to sit during a flight. But, you can do your part to make this more pleasant for the middle seat passenger by giving up both armrests to them. Respecting their space is one of the biggest courtesies that you can offer the unlucky passenger in the middle seat.

Don’t Recline Your Seat During Mealtimes

man following airplane etiquette not reclining during meal times

We get it. Everyone loves to recline in those tiny chairs. We’re not telling you not to. But, please don’t recline them all the way into the row behind you, especially during mealtimes. Reclining your seat makes it nearly impossible for the passenger behind you to use their tray to eat. The extra space you enjoy is not worth the inconvenience that you cause if you lean all the way back.

Don’t Take Care of Personal Hygiene at Your Seat

It doesn’t take much common sense to understand that your seatmate doesn’t want to watch you plucking your eyebrows midway through the flight. If you have personal hygiene needs to attend to, be sure to be respectful enough to take care of them in the privacy of the bathroom.

Are there any other rules of airplane etiquette that you think we should all follow? Tell us below.

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About The Author

Hannah Winsten is a freelance writer and marketing consultant living in New York City. A total travel junkie, Hannah came to CheapOair as a French translator and SEM associate after returning from a stint living abroad in Paris. She’s also working on her first book--you know you want to read it. Find her on Twitter at @HannahRWinsten.