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The Travel Detective

The Travel Detective: 5 Rules for Airline Etiquette 

Whether you’re a first-time flyer or a seasoned world traveler, there’s one thing that drives us nuts when we fly–it’s being seated next to other passengers who don’t follow basic airplane etiquette. Here are some rules of the road that you should know and use.

Rule number one: There’s a legitimate safety reason for why airline seats need to be in the upright position at certain times, and mealtime is no exception. Some airlines will announce this before meal service starts, but most don’t so it’s up to you to be the good one. Don’t recline your seat when you’re eating. Do you know what that does to the person behind you? You know exactly what it does.

Rule number two: Be attentive to the body language of your seatmate.  If the person next to you is not answering your questions or makes a show of putting on headphones, it probably means no to conversation. Don’t take it personally, but just stop talking.

Rule number three: The dreaded armrest debate. Here’s my take on it. The person in the middle already has it bad enough so let that person just have it.

Rule number four: Airlines are not airborne child-care centers. Be an attentive parent. Sure, you want your child to stop crying just as much as the other passengers, but keep an eye on your older children too because running up and down the aisle is a definite no-no.

Rule number five: Be aware of the people around you. That means keeping your headphones at a reasonable volume. When it comes to bringing your own food on-board, you should know that your pepperoni pizza with extra garlic is just not being considerate.

It really all boils down to common sense. Remember, you’re on an airplane and not at home on your couch. Things like cutting your toenails or changing dirty diapers…if you absolutely must do it, at least use the lavatory instead of your seat. Because as one flight attendant told me, “If I catch you doing that at 35,000 feet, I’m going to ask you to leave the plane.”

By Tracy Gallagher for