1. Be Ready To Go Through Security
When you get to the airport, it’s a given you have to go through security. We all know it’s coming up, so make sure you’re ready to put your belongings in that grey tray by the time you get to the front of the queue. There’s nothing worse than someone who plops their baggage into the tray and then decides to get all their liquids out. Do it before! Everyone knows you do it before! Pull off your belt, remove your watch, get out your laptop and put your liquids in the clear bag before you reach the conveyor belt. It’ll make everything move a lot smoother for everyone.
2. Pack Your Bags Sensibly Into The Overhead Storage
When you reach your seat on the plane, try to place your bags in the overhead storage directly above your aisle. If that’s not possible, no big deal – choose the overhead locker that’s closest to your aisle. But don’t take someone else’s bag out to fit yours in, and don’t use up all the space in the overhead for only your luggage. “Flight attendant pet peeve number eight (or is it ten?): One passenger taking up an entire bin all to themselves,” said Heather Poole, long-time flight attendant and author Cruising ATTitude: Takes of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet.
According to Poole, the best way to store your luggage is wheels first, so you can easily pull it out by the handle when ready to leave. “Most passengers know their large carry-on items go in the overhead bin wheels first,” she said. “Jackets and coats go on top of the bag. Smaller bags go under the seat.” Take note.
3. Be Responsible For The Seat You’re In
If you’re next to the window, ultimately you get control over what happens to the window shade. But be respectful: if your seatmate is experiencing glare, pull it down. Equally, if they want to take picture, lift it up and lean back so they can get the shot. And if you’re someone who wants the shade up but aren’t in the window seat, that’s fine too – but ask first. Don’t just lean across and open it.
If you’re someone with a weak bladder, maybe consider a negotiation on the aisle seat, as constantly forcing the people next to you to get up and down five times in a two-hour journey is not ideal. However, if you are in the aisle seat, you must get up and down as many times as is required of you – don’t half stand up and force people to clamber over you to get to the loo.
4. Don’t Hog The Armrest
According to British Airways, 67% of travellers believe the proper etiquette is to take one armrest and leave the other free. The middle seat is by far the worst seat, so cut that person some slack and let them use the inside arm rests.
5. Don’t Get Drunk
Going on holiday seems like the perfect excuse to start drinking mimosas at 9am, but how many drinks make for a reasonable number over the course of a flight? With the number of passengers arrested for drunken behaviour on flights or at UK airports going up by 50% in 2017, it seems we’re all getting a little sloppy when it comes in-air drinking.
So, how many drinks can you have on, say, a long-haul flight? According to a spokesperson for Air France, technically there’s no limit: “Alcohol is included and can be requested at any time when the drinks service is open. As long as the customer is not disturbing other passengers or engaging in anti-social behaviour, this service is available.” A similar sentiment was put forward by Virgin Atlantic, BA and Lufthansa, too. But beware – if you get too out of hand after a few wines, you could end up taped to your seat.
6. Watch Where You’re Stretching
Long-haul flights can wreak havoc on your body if you’re not able to stretch – but if you must get up and stretch your legs, just be mindful of where you choose to do it. “People come back in the very small galley area and they do what we call 'galley yoga’,” an anonymous flight attendant told Stuff. “They start doing their deep knee bends and stretches. And we get it. We get it! But it's just one of those things that bothers flight attendants, when you get into our little space.”
7. Avoid Small Talk
When sat next to someone you don’t know, you need to read the room on whether it’s ok to make small talk. If that person is trying to sleep, or reading a book, or watching a film, then they probably don’t want to talk to you. If some common ground comes up then by all means, try and initiate a conversation if you feel it’s right. But be aware that 83% of travellers believe conversation should be limited to a polite “Hello” and a smile. And if someone heads off to the toilet during your conversation, BA says it’s a sure-fire sign they want out of this idle chit-chat.
8. Be Respectful Of Personal Space
Particularly when you’re seated in economy, personal space is crucial. According to London City Airport’s plane etiquette guide, 63% of people hate it when you recline your seat, and 33% of people can’t stand it when you put your feet through the gap in the seats. While 59% of people say it’s OK to take your shoes off on a plane, 87% say taking your socks off is a no-no – and we’ve all seen the horror stories on Twitter of people taking their shoes and socks of before shoehorning their feet onto someone’s footrest. Keep feet firmly on the ground, please.
9. Clapping When The Plane Lands
10. Don’t Stand Up When You’re Not Supposed To
A universal pet peeve. When the plane touches down on solid ground, that’s not an indication that you can stand up and fetch your luggage. We all want to be the first off the plane, but until the seatbelt light goes off, you’ve got to stay in your seat. Standing up and attempting to pull down your handbag from the overhead whilst the plane is still trudging is dangerous and isn’t going to get you to your hotel any quicker.
11. Don’t Crowd The Baggage Claim Belt
You’re on the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the etiquette woods just yet. While standing very close to the baggage carousel might seem the best way to get your luggage, it actually makes it far harder. “Not crowding the carousel also means you can grab your bag with ease.,” says travel writer Johnny Jet. “In fact, some international baggage carousels paint a three-foot line around the perimeter to prevent this issue.”
If you’re waiting for more than one bag, once the first has arrived, move away and stack that bag, ready to go and grab your second. If you’re travelling with a companion, leave the bag with them and head back towards the carousel.