How to be a Good Airline Passenger

If you were the guy sitting in 29F yesterday, I really hope you’re reading this.

I’m generally unflappable and not easily annoyed by people, but that goes out the window when I’m traveling by airplane. I imagine the frustration to be the same as Gordon Ramsay might feel if I was his sous chef. I travel many many days per year and am very good at it, which is obviously not normal.

You may not travel as much, so let me share some suggestions from someone who’s way at the end of that bell curve to help make the experience better for you and everyone else in the plane.

1. Know in advance how to go through security and prepare for it before getting in the line. Do you need to take off your jacket or shoes? Do you need to take things out of your bag? Do you still have liquids in there that you will insist you don’t have until the TSA agent shows them to you? The x-ray machine is for minimal staging. Be ready in advance. If there is an empty space ahead of you on the conveyer belt, you messed up. The checkers are slower than anyone unloading should be. If I see an empty space I cut the line, drop my single bag, and go through security.

2. NEVER put your bag in a higher row’s overhead bin. Lower is ok. The worst deplaners are the salmon who sat in 8A but put their bags above 15C. As a rule I do not let people get past me to go backwards when deplaning. Even one row back is somewhat offensive. Ahead of you is good because by then that area will be clear and you can grab your bag easily while walking. Ideally you should just have one small bag and put it under the seat in front of you, but that’s not always possible.

3. If you are in the middle seat you get TWO armrests. If you are aisle or window you get one, and it’s not the one towards the middle. Being overweight doesn’t give you the right to take the middle guy’s armrest.

4. If you are in the window seat, you get one bathroom break per six hours of flight time, and only one maximum when middle and aisle are sleeping. If you didn’t choose the window seat on purpose, I guess you’re exempt. If you know you will have to pee a lot, try to take an aisle.

5. You can always recline your seat, but try not to do it on a short flight unless the person in front of you has already done so. The benefit is so slight unless you’re sleeping, but it makes laptop use behind you very difficult.

6. Do not take up anyone else’s space. Look at where the breaks between the seats are. That’s your zone, and that includes your elbows and knees. Airlines have made seats pretty tiny, we all put up with it, but it’s only really bearable if none of your seat is taken up by your neighbor. This includes obese people. If you’re obese, buy two seats, a bigger seat, or at least a window seat where you lean all the way up against the wall the whole time. I get that this isn’t entirely fair, but it’s less fair for your seatmate to have some of his limited space taken through no fault of his own.

7. Go ahead and eat on the plane. This is a little controversial, since the smells can affect others, but airlines don’t give you food, so I get it.

8. When deplaning, let the person ahead of you out before you, but if they aren’t ready and you have no overhead bags, just run past them and get out of the way. You should be trying to get off the plane as soon as possible but should never slow someone down who is in front of you by cutting them.

Seats on airplanes keep getting smaller and smaller, and airlines keep cutting amenities. We are obviously okay with this as we like the cheaper fares and don’t mind the inconveniences all that much, but we can make the experience better for each other by being a little bit more considerate and efficient when we’re crammed in that amazing flying tube together.


Oddly I had no photos of planes or inside planes!






One response to “How to be a Good Airline Passenger”

  1. […] experience worse for everyone around you. Follow the simple but too-often-flouted rules outlined in this post by a blogger named […]

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