The unspoken rules of flight etiquette

Posted by Anita Froneman on 13 February 2020

Flying sounds like a dream to some, but frequent travellers know that unless you can afford business or first class, it’s no picnic. Sharing a confined space with strangers for hours at a time comes with its own unique set of problems.

Screaming babies, squabbling over the arm rest, and rude neighbours are only some of the problems that make passengers dread getting on a plane. The most-debated topic has to be the etiquette of reclining seats.

Is it rude to recline your seat if the person behind you doesn’t? Is it rude to ask someone not to recline their seat? Do ‘taller than average’ people get preference over whether seats may or may not be reclined?

Recently, a passenger flying with a US airline reclined her seat and the passenger behind her didn’t like it at all. So he began knocking her seat. She filmed him, taking to Twitter and saying the airline refused to help her and even offered the man behind her a free drink after she asked for assistance.

The internet is divided. Some say people who recline their seats invade the space of other passengers and are being inconsiderate. There is even an Instagram account dedicated to the strange things some passengers witness on flights, like this passenger who seems to be picking dry skin from his feet:


View this post on Instagram


MONDAY MOTIVATION? #flyingfeet #pickemifyougotem ✈️👣😂🙏🏼😘 “A video filmed on board an AirAsia flight, captured a man picking his toes and dry skin from his feet, before dropping it on the floor. The video, captured by fellow passenger Jade Thomas, took place on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi.” – DailyMail (video from 2018, not sure how we missed this gem!) 🤷🏼‍♀️🤣 Don’t forget to check out our new “Passenger Hall of Shame” Collection of merch, including a tee and hoodie that reads “Stop Taking Your Shoes Off On Planes” (amongst others) • • • #passengershaming #flyingfeet #instagramaviation #comeflywithme #airlinelife #airplaneetiquette #frequentflyer #crewlife #plane #aviation #cabincrew #avgeek #cabincrewlife #flightattendant #flightattendantlife #stewardess #flightattendantproblems #travel #flightattendants #instapassport #aviationgeek #FAlife #airtravel #travelgram #traveltips #pilotlife #frequentflier #mondaymotivation

A post shared by Passenger Shaming (@passengershaming) on

And another passenger who is for some reason drying underwear beneath the air conditioner above her seat:

General rules to abide by when boarding a flight is to make sure you keep your hand luggage in the designated seat in front of you, or the compartment directly over your seat. Don’t use both arm rests and don’t put your feet on the seat in front of you. Don’t stretch your legs in the aisle, and if you travel with children, do your best to keep them calm. When you do recline, do so carefully and it’s considered thoughtful to ask the passenger behind you if they are comfortable with it.

Most of these rules seem reasonable -and obvious-  enough, but like they say: Common sense ain’t that common.

Image: Unsplash


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