Flight Travel Etiquette by Shanaz Shacoor
So  your going on your first long trip!! Yipeeee!!! Yes it’s overseas and your mind is reeling. You have to pack the right clothes, the right number for the appropriate occasion. Make sure you’ve got all your essentials and tick your check list  for passport,ticket,cell phone, glasses etc. On D-day you have finally gathered your thoughts, your things, your bags and finally arrive at the airport. Now that your there Do the Right Thing. But do know what is the right etiquette in the airport and during your flight? Based on observations over the years of working in the Hospitality and travel Industry I’ve put together this simple guide for you.
Basic Etiquette – The Courtesy of  PLEASE  and THANK YOU, go a long way.
You rush to the counter to place your bag on the carousel and in that rush and excitement of getting on with your journey.You don’t hear the staff welcoming you instead you just hand them your passport and ticket and grunt a  ‘hmmmmm yes I’m traveling to  X destination!’  The first Ice breaker is perhaps just to acknowledge them, smile or wish them . After all you are a guest and they would like to treat you as such. No one in all my years and experience in the industry has ever taken offence to the words of request ” PLEASE ”  and ” THANK YOU “
Check-In  Etiquette
Get there in Time – Do follow the timelines given to you by the airline. Don’t ignore it and walk in late or as you please .That is sure to end badly. Even worse it would ruin your trip along with all the unnecessary stress. Organise yourself and Plan ahead. Know what kind of traffic to expect. Remember that holidays and weekends will mean more travelers leading to crowded airports, traffic lines and Queues. Get in early and stay stress free.

Await your turn in the queue to check – in –  Airports  are busy, with different people in a different mind frame set to travel. Be patient in a queue.After all your heading to the same destination and the flight arrives exactly at the same time as the person standing before or after you .There’s nothing worse than feeling a fist in your lower back pushing you forward in a queue. Be mindful of other people’s  personal space and cultural sensitivities. There maybe someone older or not as physically able as you,slightly ahead in the same queue Pushing your way in queue does not make the process of checking in any faster.So Slow down and  await your turn.

Also, Remember this is not the only queue to test your patience either .You still have to pass Immigration and go through security and wait in the area near your designated gate to board your flight.

Boarding Area Etiquette
Don’t Deprive Seats to others in the Boarding Area – Planes are full, yes I reiterate again, airports are busy, space is tight on board as well as the area close to the boarding gate. Be kind and leave the seat next to you open so someone else can sit there. Most often we see people placing their luggage,briefcases or newspapers on empty seats, even as the boarding area fills up and other passengers are left standing.
Board When Your Zone is announced over the PA system – This one is plain and simple. Airlines assign boarding order for a reason.And it helps if everyone can just follow the rules. Jumping up and rushing to be the first to board at the sight of the ground staff appearing at the boarding desk ….. Trust me doesn’t achieve much !!!  They usually  make an announcement in order of priority for boarding. Usually it’s the elderly, physically challenged, Moms with babies and in many cases, people who board first paid for the privilege, so it’s only fair to honor it.
In-Flight Etiquette
Use Designated Spaces on the Plane effectively -There’s nothing more nerve racking than entering the aircraft to find all the over head lockers full!! Perhaps the greatest stress a frequent traveler faces is the risk of having to check a bag because the overhead bins are full. Many times I’ve seen the bins packed with small purses, backpacks and other items that could easily fit under the seat. You will have easier access to your items and your fellow passengers will appreciate having space for larger carry-ons. This will also help avoid flight delays caused by last minute checked bags.
That incredible new extension to your arm – YOUR MOBILE PHONE –  Everyone understands the need to  stay in touch with a friend, a family member, a husband, a wife, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a colleague or a boss from your office. Seriously !!!  I mean SERIOUSLY !!! No one wants to know who is at the other end  or the history of the likes. So remember to respect others need for space and silence. Keep the volume down, SWITCH YOUR PHONE OFF WHEN YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO- you may not value your life but others do value theirs. Be considerate of others and invading their space.
Check Before You Recline your own seat – Anyone who has ever flown has encountered the frustration of the person in front of you reclining the seat into your space.Yes,you have a right to recline, but wouldn’t it be nice to look behind you before you do it?  Give that traveler behind you who is working on a computer a chance to close his laptop or perhaps protect that cup of coffee that might spill over or get crushed by your seat.
Middle Seats Get the Armrest – I don’t know anyone who likes to sit in a middle seat, do you?  Let’s give those unlucky travelers a break and at least let them use both armrests. If you’re seated at the window or the aisle, I think you will  survive with the one armrest that’s dedicated to you.
Help to pass on Items to passenger seated further from the aisle than you – I have on many an occasion noticed  the flight attendants struggling and sometimes practically falling over while trying to reach a passengers tray table or pass on a tray or complementary item to a  passenger seated near a window or a seat  inaccessible. It is a small gesture but goes a long way to assist in passing stuff to your friendly or quiet and shy neighbour. Invading their personal space by digging them in the ribs to alert a fellow passenger next to you to receive their goodies is definitely not the best thing to do.More so when they are fast asleep.
Let People In Front of You Off the Plane First The plane pulls up to the gate and every person on board wants to be the first off the plane.  Clearly that can’t happen ! If you are standing in the aisle, make sure the people in the row in front of you have a chance to exit before you start walking forward.  Most people follow it, but every so often there’s a renegade who apparently didn’t receive the memo. Now you have.
Navigating Escalators – Walk on the Left, Stand on the Right. Every moving sidewalk I’ve ever seen in an airport has signs that say exactly that. So why do so many people straddle the entire width with their luggage and just stand there like a lump of coal ?  Frequent travellers are busy and every minute counts, so why not step aside and let them get by you?  And for you busy travellers whizzing by on the left – watch your rolling suitcases so you don’t club people as you whisk by.
Keep these etiquette tips in mind for hassle free travel and have a good trip.


Shanaz is an experienced International Traveller and a veteran airline crew member having spent over 24 years flying for an  international airline .She has immense experience in dealing with all kinds of crises onboard a flight, managing fellow crew members, fliers and navigating airports. She knows what she is talking about folks.
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