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Air Travel Etiquette: How To Love Flying

Air travel was once considered glamorous. One ‘dressed up’ to take go on an airplane. Flight attendants wore high heels and dinner was served on real china with real silverware. But now, with all the security measures, bag restrictions, airlines that are cramming seats together, and little or no in-flight entertainment, air travel is far from glamourous.

Here are some air travel tips for you and your fellow passengers to make the flight more enjoyable for everyone. Bon Voyage!

1. Consider your bathroom visit BEFORE you get on the plane.

If you must visit the facilities once boarded, notice where the flight attendants are with their carts. Or time your bathroom break with one of the other passengers in your row.

2. Keep your eye on passengers that might need a hand.

If you see someone struggling to get their carry on bag into the top compartment, jump up and offer them some help. At the end of the flight, do the same.

3. Do not talk ‘over’ another passenger.

You might want to consider asking the person in the middle seat to change seats with you and your conversation partner. Offer the center person either seat—the window or the aisle. If your persuasion is unsuccessful, keep your conversation to a few words or a quick exchange. Any longer than that, you are out of order. If you happen to be the person-in-the-middle, offer to change seats with one of the conversationalists.

4. Leaning your seat back.

We all know that airplane travel is not inexpensive. There are the individuals that say “I paid for this, I can do what I want!” However, with airplane companies cutting costs by diminishing the space between rows, you might want to consider a few things before you get too comfy.

Be aware of who you are leaning back on. If it is a mother with an infant, or someone with a beverage on their tray, or someone working on their laptop, you might want to ask look back at the person in that situation, and ask “would you mind if I put my seat back?” The chance you take with this however, is they may say they do mind. If you choose to put your seat back, with or without permission, recline it slowly to give the person behind you a little warning that you are coming into their space.

5. How far can you sprawl?

An armrest is “shared space”. The rule of thumb is the middle person has more leeway then those passengers sharing their arm rest space with the window seat wall or the aisle. The important thing is to be aware that you are ‘sharing’ the armrests. No bullies allowed!

6. Don’t doff those shoes!

We all know if we have foot odour. If you are a victim of fragrant feet, definitely keep your shoes on! By the way, if you take your shoes off, be sure to wear socks—you don’t want to have to tiptoe to the washroom with your bare feet, that’s for sure.

7. What’s that smell now?

Many passengers opt to bring their own food onto the airplane. Please consider the passengers that will be sitting near you as you prepare or buy your carry-on snack or lunch. Strong curry, any type of fish, or even strong pepperoni are an absolute "NO”.

8. Moms and dads and diapers!

Sorry, you may not change your child’s diaper on the seat. Go to the restroom to do the honours.

Regarding breast feeding, be discreet. Give the passenger next to you and little heads up as they might feel uncomfortable, and knowing what you are planning to do, they can get buried in their book or quickly get tired and have a snooze.

9. Keep your voices and electronics quiet.

Even though your conversation is extremely stimulating, or your video game is exciting, NO ONE else is interested in it.

Now what’s that sound?

The snoring seat mate can drive one crazy. The best recourse is to notify the flight attendant and have them say something to your nasal neighbor. You might have to give a nudge to the sonorous sleeping beauty and gently tell him or her that they are snoring. Be sure to be nice about it…it can be a long flight.

10. Use your 'nice' words with the flight attendants.

“May I have…”, “Could you please...”, and "Thank you” go a long way and are often remiss.

11. The Carry-On-Gang

More and more travellers are opting to carry on their luggage. If you are one of them, when retrieving your bag make it snappy! Too many things to deal with while preparing to depart? Sit down and wait until the plane empties.

Bon voyage---Remember the journey is actually part of the destination.

Jeannie Vaage, Etiquette Consultant, VIP Protocol
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