Summer Vacation Etiquette – Part 8: Airline Travel

Show care when you’re up in the air.

Although airline travel has become increasingly complicated and challenging, it is also increasingly popular  this summer and flights are crowded.  You can expect delays due to weather, equipment issues, flights backed up and other conditions.

The formula to make your air travel as pleasant and efficient as possible is: preparation + good manners = successful air travel.  The following tips will help your travel to be safe and enjoyable:


To avoid delays and disappointments that will affect your vacation plans, as well as those of others with whom you will be traveling or visiting, the following are some things to consider and address:

Passport – Make sure that your passport, driver’s license and other necessary licenses and documentation are current.

Tickets – Purchase tickets ahead of time for the best discounts.  Check that they are transferable to another flight if the airline or government agency cancels yours due to weather, etc.

Luggage – Don’t over pack; pack only those items you will need to enjoy your vacation.  Know the regulations of the airlines and airports involved with your travel, including the number of luggage pieces, sizes and which you can take on board, if any, and any fees involved.  Don’t pack or carry anything on your person that might cause a delay anywhere along the line.

Special Arrangements – Make advance inquiries and arrangements if you will be traveling with infants or children, disabled companions, or pets.

Security Check-in – Be prepared to wait in line, so allow plenty of time for this and bring a book or other reading material.  This is a good time to catch up on your email and texting; if you make calls be sure to keep your them brief and your voice low.


To ensure that you and your travel companions have a pleasant and safe journey, apply CPR (courtesy, patience and respect) to your fellow passengers and airport and airline ground and flight crews.  Look upon them as part of your travel team and work with, not against, them by observing the following Do’s and Don’ts of air travel, whether in the airport or on the aircraft:


  • Cooperate with airport security personnel.
  • Quiet a crying baby to the best of your ability, for both the comfort of the baby and passengers.
  • Keep children quiet, occupied and comfortable to the best of your ability.
  • Respect seating assignments, which have been made in advance by passengers.  If you must request a seat change it should be for a very good reason (traveling with children or a disabled companion and wish to be seated together so that you can attend to them), speak to the flight attendant rather than directly to the passenger whose seat you want.  If you cannot be accommodated, be gracious and make the best of it.
  • Offer to change seats with someone who appears to need your seat more urgently than you do.  Understand that you are not obligated to do this, and you shouldn’t if you need the seat for rest, comfort or disability; but If you don’t it’s a kind gesture to help a parent or disabled person.
  • Offer to help another passenger to place or arrange his luggage in the overhead compartment or under a seat.
  • Stand up or otherwise make it easy for other passengers to get in and out of their seats if you are occupying the middle or aisle seat.
  • Summon a member of the flight crew should a passenger’s behavior get out of hand, you spot any suspicious behavior or an emergency arises; don’t intervene yourself and risk injury or escalation of the situation.
  • Smile, be pleasant and courteous; use phrases such as, “please,” :”may I,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “excuse me,” “pardon me,” “not at all,” “it’s quite all right,” “can I help you,” “let me get that for you,” “you’re very kind,” “after you,” “yes, I would appreciate that,” “no, I would prefer not to, “if you don’t mind,” and “I’m very sorry, please accept my apology.”  You will make the passengers and crew – not to mention your mother – very happy.


  • Talk loudly on your cell phone.
  • Cut in line.
  • Push or shove.
  • Speak rudely to other travelers or personnel.
  • Pile large suitcases in front of people who are standing in line or anywhere they might be in the way of traffic flow.
  • Take seats on the aircraft that are not assigned to you.
  • Climb over other passengers repeatedly when leaving or returning to your seat.
  • Fidget in your seat and constantly bumping the seat in front of you.
  • Complain about a crying baby.
  • Allow your children to run free and disturb other passengers or get in the way of ground or flight personnel.
  • Argue with members of the flight crew, make demands or fail / refuse to follow their requests and instructions.
  • Speak loudly to your seatmates and traveling companions, thereby disturbing other passengers.
  • Press the button repeatedly to summon the flight attendant.
  • Use more space in the overhead storage bin than to which you are entitled.
  • Shove your too-large in-flight luggage under the seat in front of you to the discomfort of the passenger sitting in the seat.
  • Snore or gag and cough repeatedly without doing something to alleviate it.
  • Spread out in your seat to the discomfort of your seatmates.
  • Occupy the lavatory for an extended period; if you are ill or need to use the lavatory longer than normal, you should advise a flight attendant to avoid unnecessary concern or inconvenience.

Do you have anything you’d like to add to either list?  If so, please use the “comment” section; I’d love to hear from you!  Meanwhile, have a great flight!   

Join me next Tuesday as my Summer Vacation Etiquette series continues.  Don’t hesitate to let me know if there is a particular topic you would like addressed.

Until next time,


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