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Mr. Manners: Airplane Etiquette

The Jet Age is just that, an age long gone. It was an era of masterful architecture of airports, sophistication in dressing, dining on full-meals on board and prim and proper flight attendants. Today, we are greeted by a ranch at the airport, and loaded on the aircraft like it were a cattle car. We struggle through an aisle so narrow, because we have become like buffaloes with our carry-on. Although for those with the privilege of sitting up front or at the middle of the plane, they wouldn’t really notice.

The democracy of travel has allowed people to explore the world, yet they forget the civility it takes to get from point A to B. Cheap flights force the carriers to keep cutting back on their already tight margins. It is the new state of travel. The lanquid idea of a party in the sky which marked the Jet Age is diminished to survival of the fittest.

The frenzy and tension of travelling is the new normal. Air travel can be downright maddening! Over drinks and chats with friends, I gathered some pet peeves and  more annoying things that people do on planes! (I didn’t say you, okay… guilty as charged?) Here goes:


Dressing right.

Being comfortable for a packed flight doesn’t mean that you will be wearing pajamas. There were many dissenting views on this point. What makes you look smart? It boils down to the final touches. Elegant-looking track pants for the athleisure look is fine, but make sure you have a cool jacket. The jacket saves you from carrying your passport and ticket actually. Shorts on the flight, why not, but pair it with clean sneakers or loafers. Those in front are no exception; you may have a $3000 ticket with flowing champagne, but be sartorially appropriate when you board. You guys have large washrooms to change to complementary sleepwear anyway.




The carry-on.

With low-cost carriers charging by the kilo for excess luggage, don’t try and fit it all in the roller. Plus, airlines are being picky about the weight of those as well. If you can’t carry it by yourself to put in the bin, then it’s just too much. Oh, remember it should fit the bin. Backpacks are fine, but remember, be conscious of the people around you when you walk, you may just hit them over!



Checking in.

The moment we step into our ride to an airport, the stress begins. For starters, the insurmountable traffic gets the blood up. Then lining up for airport entry, then checking in! Line after line, motion after motion, you will need a vacation from the vacation. Or maybe time to reconsider a new job. Most agree that there is no way that you can argue with the airport check-in clerk if the flight is changed, cancelled, diverted or God knows what. It isn’t their fault, so just grin and bear it. Be considerate, they want you to enjoy your flight!

Security checks overseas can be a nightmare, so I suggest you go online to see what it can be like. We all suggested that you keep what you are wearing to simple chic, hahahaha… At this point, given the wait for the plane, and the runs to the coffee shop or the resto, we strongly suggest that you do whatever you need to do on ground. Deflate the bladder, or release what is needed. Brush your teeth, gargle and freshen up. This way when you get on the plane, you need not perform seat acrobatics too early in the flight.





And the hoards rush to gate in the mayhem of the moment. The plane isn’t going to leave you. So follow the boarding cue, and there is really no need to rush. However, we do realize that the overhead bin space may disappear in due course. Sometimes it makes sense to pay the extra weight and check-in stuff. Yes, but what happens if the luggage gets lost? Oh no!  



The overhead bin.

This happens to be one of the biggest irritants in today's travel as per our round table chat. Trying to find space and fit the bag is like a jigsaw puzzle. Keep your bag to a minimum, and take out what you need before take off so you don’t hog the aisle or inconvenience your seatmates. Remember, stuff like blankets, travel pillows, and such, get them ready to go.



Getting settled.

Here are a few things we agreed on. There is no need for small talk; however, a greeting to your seatmates is appropriate. The person in the middle seat gets the armrests, both of them. The person by the window and by the aisle have a lot more wiggle room. If you are not by the aisle, inform your seatmates that you may have to hit the lavatory from time to time, and apologize ahead for the hassle. Fasten your seatbelt, and obey the electronics rule. Keep the laptops away and fiddle with your phone if you like, but keep to yourself. Time to respect everyone's space.

Granted everyone is in their seats, and the tragedy of the carry-on is averted, it's time to fasten those belts, and off you go to leveling 30,000 feet.



Chicken or fish? Watch the drink.

Granted that the airline you chose has an in-flight meal, make your choice and just take it on. At no point in the meal service should you get up to go to the lavatory or get something from the bin. Our groupies say it is a potential disaster waiting to happen. Getting up could cause the tray of your neighbor to topple, or having you get stuck in the aisle while the cart goes through. If you brought your own food, make sure it isn’t smelly and won't squirt itself all over like an octopus. If you see a flight attendant with a cart in the aisle, stay put. It goes without saying that getting up before the dinner trays have been collected is taboo. And one more thing, don’t drink and fly! You may be the obnoxious type.





We picked up mixed thoughts on children and travel. We all agreed that it would be a nightmare to have a wailing child on board, but we were all children, and have had our share of tantrums. The parent is well aware of the child's actions, especially in today's environment, and a bit of empathy is in order. If you gauge that the parent is doing nothing to control the mischief or the bawling, a quick word with the cabin crew in a kind tone would be acceptable.



In-flight entertainment.

Whether you have a laptop, a phone or a tablet, manage the screen brightness and the volume of your earphones. It is really rude to keep that pouding music for the row to hear. Be considerate given that the space is tight as it is. For those in front, these conditions may not apply!



Use something that won't let you down.

Get ready for someone who will reek of a really strong perfume, or may have had too much reserved energy to break the sweats. There is not much you can do if they are on the plane and you have to live through their reek for the next few hours. Bring some peppermint or salve (katinko?) to kill the odor. Don’t you wish you could have told the person sooner to bathe properly? While we are at it, those bare feet that appear by your armrest are one of the to-die-for peeves of our informal chat. Keep your feet to yourself, wear foot socks, and make sure you don’t decide to do a pedi while you are at it.



Decide how you are going to sleep.

Those new neck pillows actually work, and really, a passenger has to practice the moves and set their boundaries. Just be aware that if you are in an awkward position, your seatmate may need to wake you to get to the aisle, so don’t be cross!





Reclining and shoving.

This is simple, look back before you recline, and say so. Don’t shove your knee forward. It is really rude.


I guess, we have covered what makes a flight bumpier than it already is. The seat is personal space, so if you don’t want to be curtailed, be mindful of how you act. Remember, it is all about being kind and considerate to those around you. Now, relax, and try and enjoy your flight. Excuse me, I need to go to the lavatory.