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Updated: Jul 16, 2023

There are customs, and then there are the ‘just known’ facts that are left unwritten as it pertains to manners and overall etiquette. It is important to note that traveling, like most other activities we do in our lives, is governed by rules. Rules that govern travel are put in place by the Airports which we travel through and the airlines which we travel on, then there are the other social norms that have been adapted over time. Herein, we’ll be discussing and simply recalling the most pertinent of the lot. I aim not to bore you with the morbid details of traveling etiquette but enlighten you as to the importance of maintaining travel etiquette. Please be reminded that each area of travel has its own rules and regulations, but we’ll be focusing on the most universally common of the lot.

  • Always be mindful of local airport security.

No matter where you are headed, internationally or domestically, airports all have security, and though the basics of your required actions are the same across the board, there are rules and regulations that are location specific. That being said, it is important to research your destination’s airport or even their governing rules prior to traveling; that way you won’t break any laws, and you’ll move through the checkpoints smoothly. That’s of course only if you don’t want to end up like a few well-known celebrities. According to Travel and Leisure, Johnny Depp is facing up to 10 years in prison and $262K in fines for illegally bringing his dogs to Australia on a private jet though they had not been declared. Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but at the very least it is reasonable to assume that a foreign country would have an issue with the entry of a dog moreover two not known to be coming into their country; who knows what potential dangers could be lurking in the wind? Also, check your luggage before packing because simply saying you didn’t know there was a particular item within is not going to be enough to save you from airport authorities

• Electronic Usage.

Airlines have, over time, increased their rules for travel for various reasons. No one is keen on the bomb threats nor potentially falling out of the sky when there’s a system failure due to your usage of electronics even after being told to turn them off. According to Business Insider, “the reality of air travel in the 21st century is that flying economy is unpleasant.” As such, it is important to remember to respect the personal space of others as it is incredibly annoying to hear that one person “who chats on a cell phone during the entire process of going through security and boarding.” Cell phone usage in public can be a nuisance however, we must be mindful that though there may be an incredibly interesting topic to be discussed or you may be in the middle of a heated war with words, there are other persons around.

It is important to take into account the experiences of others to help you in your decision-making process. Take Alec Baldwin, for instance; he was ousted from an American Airlines flight due to his incessant cell phone usage during take-off. So if you wish to switch travel plans abruptly, then there’s your ticker; if not, simply respect the airline's rules.

• Fair Cabin Usage.

Let’s face the facts, as the years go by, traveling Economy on an airline can be quite an unpleasant experience. But, if we all take a second to reconsider our own practices, we can see that things could be beneficial for each of us if we respect each other’s space. Amidst all our traveling, lest we forget, there are in fact unwritten as well as clearly displayed rules we ought to follow for the greater good of us all. Let’s not forget that travel etiquette also varies based on destination. No matter the country of travel though, airlines are quite uniform regarding cabin usage. The economy is provided with access to the overhead storage space as well as the seat in front is provided for the storage of a single personal item. Though the space is made available for you, that does not mean that the location directly above you is solely yours; please don’t create a fit or launch into hysterics like Naomi Campbell if you’re unable to locate your bag; that could end poorly for you, maybe landing you in jail for a bit. If you can’t immediately locate your luggage, you may beckon to the flight attendant and ask for assistance in locating your personal items. Carry-on luggage is to be stowed securely and compactly beneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.

• Travelling with Children.

Children can be the most annoying and aggravating passengers on airplanes; however, there are a few tips and tricks that can be used to keep the peace for everyone on board. No one wants to be stuck next to the screaming babies or toddlers. Airports and airlines can be filled with such angst and frustration as is, let us refrain from adding troubles that are, to some extent, still within the realms of being able to be controlled. Parents, there is a need for pre-travel preparation just for your peace of mind and the peace of mind and comfort of others. The Spruce gives lots of delightful tips in that it is important to plan ahead of your travel date while remaining realistic as with all the needs of your little ones you’ll end up packing everything and the kitchen sink! As it relates to car seats, when you arrive at your destination, they will be needed to travel around, so you can either rent one or invest in one for future usage. Place a car seat securely into the airplane seat for your child’s safety and also to prevent them from roaming the cabin. I mean, as a parent, I understand the moments of tiresome travel. However, it is a give-and-take situation almost as though person’s travelling could be more tolerant and patient in light of the situation, you also have to take the necessary steps to maintain order and keep your little ones in control.

-Pack enough snacks and tasty treats; I find that children who are fed and filled tend to be a little less on edge.

-Keep them entertained. The Spruce said it best when they put forth that parents ought to “buy a few new toys to keep baby entertained!”

The Arm Rest Debacle.

If you travel, whether frequently or otherwise, you would know that the battle for the arm rest in economy can be a fierce one. So, let us attempt to dissect what would be deemed as proper manners in that regard. The Business Insider postulates that the individual in the middle seat ought to have a preference for the arm rests as they have no access to the beautiful scenery nor are the able to freely move about the cabin without interrupting other individuals. I must say though, despite the somewhat sense that makes no one has overall and unequivocal rule over possession of the arm rests. Etiquette ought to dictate respect for space; if someone is next to me and they have their hand on the arm rest, I ought to realize that well I’ll hang on to the arm rest next time if I so badly desire it. It is not grounded in any rule book nor airline code who ought to have total access to the arm rest; as such when traveling seek to respect the personal space of those closest to you for a safe and smooth travel experience.

• Smells and Spells.

Personal odor ought to be of great concern to you when travelling. In fact, in everyday life you ought to maintain proper personal hygiene thereby not emitting any unsightly smells that would make anyone cringe. Imagine being in such close setting thousands of feet above ground in a sealed vessel some travelling for great hours; it would be reasonable to expect that at the very least individuals ought to take their personal hygiene in a high regard. It is incredibly uncomfortable when people emit unpleasant odors be it BO or just a bad combination of several meals throughout the day leading up to that colossal typhoon exploding on the unsuspecting individual(s) close by. It takes very little to maintain good BO and for those who exercise very little care ought to up their etiquette game allowing travelers to experience the true wonders of the trip as opposed to being hyper-focused on the smells and spells that linger about.

•Alcohol is not your friend.

I think this ought to be a rule of thumb for all travelers, alcohol is not your friend. Yes, it is alright to take a drink or two but have you ever noticed that you react differently to people when you are inebriated? Well, if you haven’t, note that having a good time creating a buzz is much different than becoming wasted. Do not consume alcohol of enormous proportions on an aircraft because, well, you can be kicked off. In the case of Neil Morrison, excessive amounts of red wine lead to no good. He lost his temper waiting in line for customs. Truth be told it is common sense to not drink large amounts of alcohol in any sphere however it is more so known to not be a great idea to do so while traveling. Not only will you embarrass yourself and those traveling with you, but you could also potentially get yourself a cozy booking in a jail cell someplace. You hear don’t drink and drive well, it is safe to say don’t drink and fly. The lightness of the air within the cabin, coupled with your alcohol inhibitions, does not make for a wonderful experience.

Airport and airline etiquette is simple enough to follow. Make no mistake that yes, some folks need a little reminder as to what is deemed common sense but never assume that everyone knows. In case it slips you, here are a few never do tips.

-Never fight a flight attendant. Though you may be upset and you may feel some type of way, assaulting a flight attendant leads to nothing but bad news for you.

-Obey flight and airport rules when traveling. Even if you think, oh, doing that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, let this serve as a reminder that it is.

-Respect everyone’s personal space just as you would wish the same for yourself, take the time to plan your trip details, making yourself and your family comfortable whilst not infringing on anyone else’s space.

-Do not drink excessively in life, but more so do not drink excessively during flight.

-Be a considerate passenger; not everyone is keen on hearing your dilemma as quite simply my ears need a little breathing room especially when it is that the flight is lengthy and whoa, beyond to me if there is also a delay. Well, I hope these tidbits can be of great use when you travel next.


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