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Most people dislike flying, but just remember; you’re not alone. Before you head on your next flight, read our readers’ amazing tips on how to be a polite plane passenger!
Tips for Being a Polite Plane Passenger
Travel Fashion Girl help! A reader asks:
What are your best practices for being a polite plane passenger?
As much as we love traveling, we know we’re not alone when we say the plane ride is the worst part of any trip. Airports are stressful, planes are packed, and it’s nearly impossible not to get sick from a long flight.
As much as we dislike plane travel, everyone can have a better experience if we all follow a few polite practices. Here, our readers share their tips on how to be a polite plane passenger.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Simple “Hello”
Good manners start with the basics: saying “hello” and “goodbye,” and “please” and “thank you.” Our readers know how far a friendly smile or greeting can go.
- Say hello and goodbye, smile, be polite, and be aware of the fact that you are not alone in the world.
- I say hello when boarding to all staff where possible and thank you during any type of service (such as food and drinks). I try to be patient and give them space in their work areas. And lastly, I always say thank you and goodbye when deplaning.
- Say hello, goodbye, and thank you to the staff, and smile at and be mindful of the person sitting next to you.
- Always say hello to flight attendants, as they have a hard job that’s not all fun! Be sure to acknowledge your row mates and do not over talk to them.
- Have patience if a flight is delayed and, most of all, if you need to rebook due to a canceled or missed flight, SMILE! It goes a long way with a booking agent at the gate.
Tip: If you travel frequently, consider bringing blank thank you cards to give to plane staff when you arrive at your destination. It’s a sweet gesture that doesn’t cost much!
Be Mindful of Smells
Planes tend to be stuffy, since there’s no fresh air. This means that smells are so much worse in a plane, which can be terrible during long flights. Our readers recommend being extra careful when it comes to anything potentially smelly.
- Do not paint your nails on the plane or spray perfume.
- Make sure not to have smelly feet. I do remove my shoes (us Norwegians like going shoeless), so I usually make a quick sock change in the airport or remove my shoes to dry my feet a little while waiting to board.
- Don’t spray scented things or eat smelly food.
- No perfume!
- No bare feet; you’re not at home! If you want your shoes off, bring a pair of fresh compression socks. If you think that your feet are even a little bit stinky, that means they are really bad!
Tip: Not only are compression socks comfortable, but they also are designed to help maintain blood flow, and reduce discomfort and swelling. Swap your regular socks for compression socks once you’re seated on the airplane.
Keep the Volume Down
Even short flights can be stressful, and some people like to relax as much as possible. We agree with our readers who say it’s important to keep the volume to a minimum.
- Don’t talk on a 12-hour flight the entire time while people are trying to sleep.
- Use your headphones so you don’t disturb others.
- I use noise-cancelling headphones when listening to something on my iPad or laptop. Never put your phone on speaker!
Tip: We never travel without our Bose headphones. These earbuds are easier to pack than over-the-ear headphones and they block out all external noise.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Airports and airplanes can get so crowded, and it doesn’t help when people spread out with their luggage or neglect their surroundings. While traveling with luggage can be cumbersome, try to be efficient with your bags.
- I streamline my luggage as much as possible so I can sit down in my seat quickly and not hold up my row mates, especially since I often choose a window seat. This means putting my jacket in my suitcase ahead of time and keeping what I need during the flight in a small handbag that I put under the seat in front of me for easy access.
- Be aware of the backpack on your back when you turn or stuff another bag in the overhead so you don’t hit the person behind or beside you.
- Put your personal item under the seat in front of you and not in the overhead bin as there are many still boarding who may need to store their bag.
- I keep anything I need during the flight under the seat rather than overhead so I don’t need to keep getting up and down.
- Don’t crowd around the gate agent before boarding and wait until your group is called before approaching.
Tip: For a smooth trip through the airport and on the plane, we love the Delsey Helium Aero carry-on suitcase. It’s compact, yet you can pack a lot in there!
Be a Good Seat Mate
It’s strange enough sitting so closely to strangers for hours at a time. The best way to be a polite plane passenger is to be kind and gracious to those in your row, as well as those in front of and behind you.
- Get situated before sitting, such as taking out your book, tablet, or whatever you need for the flight.
- Don’t recline your seat all the way as soon as the flight is in the air. Or, look behind you first before reclining.
- Don’t kick the seat in front of you. And if I’m in the window seat, I ask my row mates if they’re comfortable with me opening or closing the window shade.
- Remember, the center seat gets both armrests! They’re already stuck in the middle. It’s a kind gesture.
- If you are sick, wear a mask and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Also, bring some wipes to tidy up the surfaces you’ve touched and clean your hands.
- I like to offer sanitizing wipes to my seat mates.
- I always offer gum to my neighbors when I have a piece.
Tip: Rather than take out a giant laptop that takes up a ton of space, consider a tablet, like the Amazon Fire, which you can use for reading and watching movies or TV shows. It saves you space and isn’t as bulky to take out when in a crowded seat.
Appreciate the Crew
Any flight crew member will tell you that their job is anything but easy. They work hard and often go unappreciated, even though they’re essential for a safe and pleasant flight. When possible, show them appreciation.
- Bring a small plastic bag and take your garbage with you if you forget to give it to the flight attendants when they walk by. No one should have to clean up your trash. And don’t leave it in the seat pocket!
- I always give my flight attendant a shareable bag of candy for the crew.
- I always give the check-in desk and flight crew chocolates during long haul flights as a token of appreciation. They are always delightfully surprised. I like making them smile, especially when I know they are going to be on their feet for 8 hours dealing with a lot people.
- Last year I had to fly on Christmas day so I bought $5 Starbucks cards for the whole crew. They all told me that was the highlight of their day and made them feel appreciated. It goes to show that just a simple gesture can make such a difference in someone’s day.
- If it’s a long haul or a holiday, bring cookies or chocolates for the flight attendants. This pays off for you and them!
Tip: You might also consider bringing a treat for your seatmate when traveling during the holidays. It’s the most stressful time of year to travel, so a sweet treat is a great gesture.
Help Struggling Parents
Traveling and navigating an airport and plane is difficult enough without also having to look out for young kids. While a crying baby on a flight isn’t fun, just remember that the parent isn’t enjoying it either, and probably feels terrible about the situation. Go gentle on parents and help them when you can!
- If I see someone struggling with a stroller, kid, or bag I offer to help.
- Offer to help families with children when they are having challenges by saying, “I remember those days too. How can I help?”
- Tell families traveling with fussy children how beautiful or sweet their kids are instead of glaring at them like other folks. They are already worried about people rolling their eyes as they walk by. Why not tell the toddler their rolling Star Wars suitcase is awesome instead of being rude? I traveled for five weeks to Europe with three children when they were 5 and 6 years old. A smile can help a busy parent feel good and relax, and I know my kids could ALWAYS tell when I was stressed.
- If someone’s traveling with a baby that’s crying, don’t judge or give parents the “evil eye.” You don’t know their circumstances, so my motto is to be kind and empathetic.
Tip: Free up your hands by traveling with a backpack instead of a purse for your carry-on item. We love taking our Rebecca Minkoff Julian backpack wherever we go!
We love all of these tips, but one reader summed everything up perfectly when she said, “give compliments, elbow room, and thank you’s. Leave smelly things, selfishness, and high expectations at home. Look forward to the journey and reflect on your latest adventures.”
What are your tips and ideas on how to be a polite plane passenger? Share in the comments!
For more airplane and flight essentials, please read:
- What to Wear On A Plane
- What To Do on a Long Flight
- How to Alleviate Back Pain During Flights
- How to Survive Long Flights Over 20+ Hours
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