We previously did a piece on ensuring a smooth travel experience for you and your loved ones. We even got to speak with a seasoned flight attendant who was kind enough to share valuable tips with everyone. 

This piece extends that conversation a little further. For this story you’re about to read, we’ll tackle a highly essential yet often forgotten topic about travel: airplane etiquette. 

You’ve likely encountered different levels of crude behavior in-flight, and you think, ‘How could some people be so out of touch with the proper way to act in a public place?’ 

A lot of what you’ll read from here is common sense, yet many of us need reminding from time to time. And to do that, we’ve gathered some first-hand tips from etiquette experts. 

Airplane Etiquette Basics You May Have Forgotten

Let’s face it: we’re all guilty of committing the occasional etiquette crimes. A lot of times, you don’t even notice them. This article should also save you from potential moments of embarrassment. 

Keep the Chatter at a Minimum

This tip applies more to solo travelers, particularly those who enjoy mundane conversations about the weather or, in this case, how cold the AC is. But experts will tell you to keep the chatter at a minimum. 

Better yet, gauge the situation before you start up some small talk. Here’s a valuable piece of advice from etiquette instructor Sydney Dunn. 

“If you’re a chit-chat person, your responsibility is to pick up on key signs, so if the person you’re talking to is starting to give you one-word answers, not reply, just get a little quiet, or turn their body language away from you, then that’s your cue to reign it in and curb the questions.”

Diane Gottsman, the founder of The Protocol School of Texas, echoed a similar sentiment but gave a specific scenario. 

“When the refreshment cart comes by, it’s not your responsibility to wake up your fellow passenger to inquire as to whether they would like a drink unless it’s a friend or family member, but not a stranger.”

Your Child, Your Responsibility

We all agree that young children are the most adorable creatures on this planet. But we can also agree that they can quickly turn into little monsters during an eight-hour plane ride. 

Children are simply acting accordingly. They cry like there’s no tomorrow and scream their lungs out to get their way. We’ve all been there. In this case, the responsibility to take control of the situation falls on the parents. 

Florida-based expert Jacqueline Whitmore agrees

“Nothing is cute or amusing about getting the back of your seat kicked, your hair pulled, or watching someone else’s children running like wild banshees up and down the aisle.”

Don’t be the person who acts passively while their child makes everyone else’s experience miserable. You wouldn’t want to be an open target of dirty looks the entire flight. 

You’ll Be Judged By the Way You Use the Lavatory

‘Tell me how you use an airplane’s lavatory, and I’ll tell you who you are.” This line is a paraphrased version of a classic adage and translates well. Regarding airplane etiquette, bathroom use should be the top three discussion topics. 

You’ve seen it repeatedly, especially for long-haul flights: you wait your turn to use the john, and you’re met with an unpleasant surprise once that door opens. Water puddles everywhere, as if someone took a full shower in there. 

If you’d put things exactly how you found them, it’s only proper to do the same with an aircraft’s lavatory. If you went in there and saw no form of disorder and chaos, you should leave it the same way. 

“Don’t treat it like your own bathroom,” Whitmore says. That’s sound advice. 

Personal Grooming Should Never Be Public

Here’s a sight that’s probably a head-scratcher for you: a person clipping their nails in public. Some would tweeze their eyebrows, while others would even go as far as trimming their nose hair. 

Seeing certain people act like the world around them is their personal grooming space can be baffling. And it isn’t specific to airplane etiquette; it’s common sense. 

For this, Gottsman has one simple suggestion: 

“Avoid any type of personal grooming when you are sitting in close proximity to another person.”

Keep Your Bare Feet on the Floor

Another eyesore you’d commonly see on planes would be people taking their shoes off and putting their bare feet up as if they were in their living room. It’s a seemingly long-standing practice that makes no sense whatsoever. 

Yet a large chunk of passengers adheres to this boorish practice akin to watching a video on one’s phone with the volume on full blast or showing excessive PDA. It’s a behavior that can quickly alienate you from society and should be at the top of the airplane etiquette list. 

Gottsman reminds passengers to keep their shoes on during the flight. It won’t be a thoroughly relaxing experience, but pick a pair of comfortable footwear. Now, if you must take them, at least have a pair of slippers. You’ll find good ones online that come with a decent price tag

But here’s Gottsman’s most important reminder: 

“Avoid, at all costs, taking your shoes off and rubbing your feet. And certainly don’t kick off your shoes and walk through the aisle to the restroom barefooted.”

Switching Seats Is Never Anyone’s Right

Certain folks have a greater sense of entitlement during flights. They take it to the next level by expecting to change seats at their whim. In their minds, this is entirely acceptable behavior. Some even believe it’s a right they deserve. 

You’ve seen this story a few times: a quarrel between passengers because one refused to give up the seat they paid for to accommodate another person who made a booking mistake. 

These scenarios always end poorly for both parties. Just like what happens if you get into a full-on brawl with a bouncer at a club, expect to be an instant internet sensation when you behave foolishly on an airplane. 

In some cases, it may work, but as Gottsman states, it’s on a case-to-case basis. 

“When asking to switch seats with someone, make sure the switch is equal such as an aisle for an aisle or window for a window.”

“Asking someone to take your middle seat to take their aisle seat is not a fair exchange. They may have also paid additional for legroom or a particular seat.”

Feel free to ask, but also be prepared to be shot down.

“Be prepared for a ‘no’ with a friendly smile and say kindly you understand if they decline your request,” Gottsman says. 

How Do You Urge Yourself to Practice Proper Airplane Etiquette?

Some items on this list of proper airplane etiquette practices are common sense and a show of consideration toward your fellow passengers. You don’t need a fellow adult to remind you not to clip your nails in public, keep your feet down and wipe down the lavatory after use. These are customary practices by sensible members of society. 

But you can avoid a seat SNAFU by booking your tickets in advance. You can find superb and affordable deals from a site like Tripadvisor to make bookings easier. It’s all about finding the right one for you and your family. 

For everything else, it’s all about keeping busy. If you feel your child will have a difficult time during the flight, get them a tablet and fill it up with games and movies to tide them over. Amazon, for example, has many choices that won’t break the bank. These tablets come in attractive colorful designs, too. 

But if you’re not a fan of exposing your kid to gadgets that overload the dopamine system, go old school and get them a coloring book instead. At $4.99 apiece, you can buy ten of those. 

Proper airplane etiquette should be second nature. If you want a smooth flying experience, have them instilled in you.