Beware the person with somewhere to be and little time to get there. You may be a joy to be around at home (no, really, everyone says so!), but the airport is enough to frazzle the nerves of the most even-tempered traveler.
Avoid Doing These 15 Things When You Fly
As easy as it is to gripe about our fellow passengers, the truth is we've probably all been guilty of some flight etiquette faux pas at some point. Before you head out on your next trip, be mindful of your fellow travelers and remember the following.
1. Don't slow down the security lines for everyone behind you.
You may find small inconsistencies here and there, but security regulations are pretty much standard across the board. Is it really a surprise in 2019 that your cellphone will set off the metal detector? Help speed things up by placing all your metal and electronic doodads in a coat pocket or carry-on pouch, remove your laptop from its case, have liquids/gels/toiletries in the TSA-approved quart-sized bag, and have those shoes ready to toss in the tray. And yes, that nonfat macchiato does, in fact, count as a liquid. As does that 6-gallon vat of Gold Bond Medicated Cream you forgot to put in your checked baggage. Don't argue with the nice agent. Keep it moving.
2. Keep it moving or keep to the right.
Cruising on the people mover? Exhilarating, isn't it? Enjoy the ride! But if you only take away one thing from this list, please let it be this: An entire world exists behind you. And in that world, there are folks with places to go, people to meet, flights to catch, and very limited time to make it all happen. Would you be so kind as to stand to one side of the escalators or people-movers, allowing your fellow passengers a little room to pass? Should you forget, do not clutch at your pearls in disbelief when a little voice behind you says, "Excuse me."
3. When it comes to carry-ons, keep your cool.
Bad news first. You may have to store your carry-on in an overhead bin other than the one directly above your seat. The good news? Every overhead bin on the plane is going to the same place as you. Quelle coinkidink! Heck, even if you're asked to check your carry-on, you'll still see it again upon arrival. A slight inconvenience, yes, but no need for a meltdown. Just take whatever items you may need during the flight and keep them under the seat in front of you. No biggie.
4. Chatty Cathys, read the room.
Be accommodating to your seatmates and fellow passengers, without being creepy. Are they avoiding eye contact when taking their seats? If so, they probably aren't up for chatting. Taking the redeye and notice everyone in your row sleeping? Then keep your shade down and turn the reading light off a little sooner. And would it kill you to swap seats so that family can sit together? Probably not.
5. Don't stink up the place, okay?
Whoa there, Burger King, go easy on the food smells. You wouldn't want your seatmate blowing stogie smoke in your face, and that steaming Whopper with onion isn't any better. If you're starving, forgo that grease-blotted bag of fast food for something a little more discrete. Have you ever in your life caught a whiff of M&Ms, or a ham and cheese, or a bag of trail-mix? No? Well, there you go. Buy those instead.
And this isn't solely a food offense. Remember, you're on a plane, not the salon. While your attempts at getting beautiful are sure to be a hit on the ground, the nail polish and the Axe Body Spray aren't gonna make you any friends up in the air. At the very least, do your spritzing and fixing in the lavatory. Related: Armpits and feet. Keep it clean, people. If your feet smell like a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, please don't remove your shoes on the plane.
6. Recline if you must but do so with empathy.
It's a touchy subject and opinions will differ, but try to be thoughtful when reclining your seat. Will reclining your wafer-thin seat by a few dinky inches really mean the difference between comfy and not? That's your call, but know that it may also annoy the person seated behind you. Especially if that person is watching the seatback TV, trying to use a laptop, or -- worse -- trying to enjoy a meal. Sure, it's your seat. You paid for it. But so did the person behind you. If you absolutely won't be happy unless you go whole-hog backward, at least try to wait until the cabin lights have been dimmed for sleepytime.
7. Keep your voice down.
Remember that this is an airplane, not dollar wings and drafts night. Yes, both serve booze, but there's no need to get loud and rowdy. Pretend you're at a library. That's not to say you have to whisper and coo every word, but would it kill you to speak in hushed tones? Especially at night on long-haul flights when the cabin lights are off, talk quietly. Sleeping in economy is difficult enough without having to drown out a lot of chatter.
8. Don't go kicking and screaming.
This is a delicate one, but not necessarily all that complicated. Parents traveling with children, please keep your child from kicking the back of the seat, slipping arms between seats, and being a nuisance to fellow passengers. You may be desensitized to this sort of thing, but the person in front of you is not. Annoyed passenger, should the trouble persist and you have to ask the parent to intervene, do so in a polite and pleasant tone. Making someone feel like an inadequate parent or insulting a small child will only make things worse.
9. Remember, you too were once a baby.
As for crying infants...well, sorry, it happens. And there's not much to be done about it. One thing's for sure. Those pricey noise-canceling headphones you passed up on the ground are looking puh-retty worth it about now, aren't they? Maybe buy them next time. You'll be so glad you did.
10. Don't be a space invader.
Respect your seatmate's personal space. There is no faster way to enrage your seatmate than by invading their space. Think of the armrests as a moat that is not to be crossed. Swim in it, splash around, touch forearms, go crazy! But the armrest is shared space, like it or not. Be mindful that your shoulders, arms, legs, knobby elbows, coat, magazines, and newspapers do not cross over into the space that was paid for by your seatmate.
11. Hold your applause.
Clapping upon landing? Really? This one isn't so much annoying as it is baffling. How exactly did you imagine this flight would end?
12. Keep phone calls to a quiet minimum.
You've landed! Congratulations! You'll probably want to share this good news with your loved ones. No doubt they'll be thrilled to hear it. The people sitting around you? Not so much. And definitely not if you're shouting into the phone. How about sending a nice quiet text instead, or, better still, how about waiting until you've walked off the plane?
13. If the flight crew says stay seated, stay seated.
Stay seated until the aircraft has reached the gate. Yes, the siren song of 200-something seat belts unfastening in unison is very exciting. You've landed, you want to stand up, and you want your stuff! But please, have some chill. Even if by some chance you've collected your things from the overhead the moment the wheels touch the ground, where exactly do you plan on going? The door is closed and there are about 60 people seated in the rows before you, all of whom are just as eager to deplane.
14. Don't elbow folks at baggage claim. Say excuse me.
Once at the baggage claim, all sense of personal space seems to go out the window. And it's no wonder, after having just spent all those hours confined to such a tiny seat. But don't wriggle your way through a cluster of waiting people only to block their access to the belt. That's not only annoying, it's plain rude. Those people are waiting for their bags, too. The conveyor belt is long and winding, with plenty of room for everyone.
15. Don't take a bag that isn't yours. Even if by accident.
After retrieving your suitcase from the baggage carousel, take a moment to confirm that, yes, the name on the luggage tag is your own. I realize that you went through the trouble of tying a yarn pom-pom to the handle, but odds are so did someone else. And that someone could be on your flight. This may strike you as paranoid, but mix-ups do happen. There's nothing worse than finding someone else's wardrobe in what you thought was your bag, and having to schlep back to the airport to make the trade.
Are we missing anything? If so, feel free to add your own travel annoyances below.