Perhaps you’ve been there… On a flight, crammed next to a total stranger mindlessly munching on their McD’s Big Mac, dripping crumbs on their belly while blasting techno music loudly through their headphones. Unfortunately I have, and I almost lost my mind. I pride myself on being somewhat aware of my surroundings and I appreciate when others do the same. If you can keep your senses in check, then your flight will be smooth sailing. Here are some rules of thumb to follow, to keep everyone happy!
SMELL: For the love of all things sacred, please keep the stinky stuff at home. No egg salad, heavy perfume, aromatherapy or the like should be allowed on board. You may adore the sweet aroma of your hairspray, but I guarantee that it will make your seat mate gag.
SOUND: I know there are plenty of fancy headphones now that block out all kinds of noise, but if you crank your tunes and I can still hear your music, then you become a self-appointed on-board DJ. Unless you are rocking out to Wilco, I’m not interested. As for gaming devices, those little beeps may be fun to track your bonus points, but they are positively irksome to the rest of us passengers, so make sure to hit that precious mute button. Finally, do not, I repeat, DO NOT roll your eyes about that crying baby in the back. Believe me, it’s a thousands times more painful to be said baby (or the baby’s parents) than to be the one flying sans kids.
TOUCH: The arm rest. To whom does it belong? This is the ultimate test of airplane etiquette. especially in the second-class territory of the dreaded middle seat. If you are unlucky enough to be seated in that position, then in my book you are entitled to the arm rests. I gladly relinquish the real estate. What does continue to amaze me, however, is when I am in the middle seat surrounded by two men on either side, both inevitably claim this space for themselves. EVERY TIME. To all my male readers, I ask you, what is this about?! In silent protest, I do manage to sneak my elbows in from time to time, but the presumption does ruffle my feathers. Share, people, share… Equality for all!
SIGHT: I realize that close quarters can make people feel uncomfortable, but there is no better way to set a positive tone for your flight than to warmly greet the person sitting next to you. I find it odd when people ignore their seat mates completely. I’m not suggesting that they need to be your new BFF, but a polite connection, be it a smile, a nod or a brief hello simply makes a stranger feel welcome.
TASTE: Airline food is mediocre at best, but I appreciate the need to eat en route. Whether you choose an overpriced pre-wrapped sandwich from the cart or a little something from home, please try and keep it somewhat contained. Remember, a coach seat gives you about 18 inches of tabletop. I do not care to have your meal on my lap.
While I might sound like the etiquette police, I promise you that these simple guidelines will have you admired by travelers far and wide. It’s not the terrorists I’m afraid of, it’s the oblivious. A little awareness goes a long way!