Travel Etiquette 101

I have been blessed to have not had to travel for business as much with my present job, – much less than my last job.  However, it still does occur and it brings me back to the fact that many travelers – especially business travelers – have lost touch with travel etiquette!  So this post hopes to evangelize this area for 2013!  No pressure, my 2.78 readers, but you need to help get the word out!

Here are some of the basic tenets of traveling with proper etiquette, as noted by Gina:

  • We’re all in this together.  That means you might be an executive making the big bucks or a lower middle class worker wondering how you’re  going to pay the rent on the first…..it doesn’t matter.  We have met at this juncture because we both (all) need to get from one place to another, for whatever reason, and our humanness should not be wiped out by the seat we were assigned or the order in which we were allowed to board the plane.  Planes are small enough without taking up space with massive egos.
  • Help One Another.  This is especially important for older passengers; I mean seriously, who can really stand by and watch an older passenger struggle to get their baggage in the overhead or have difficulty finding the numbers for the seat assignments?  Does is help ANYONE by getting frustrated because they’re slowing others down or don’t have a super-traveler’s speed?  Come to think of it, as HUMANS we should care for each other a bit more often instead of assuming everyone should move the hell out of our way.  Maybe if we HELP, like lift that bag for that lady or assist in helping that older gentlemen find his seat (or assist that young mother struggling with a toddler….the list goes on) EVERYTHING will work out better!  They are blessed by a kind co-traveler, the boarding process moves more quickly, and we ALL can get to where we are going that much faster.
  • There’s a person in that seat.  I know it’s easy to forget about that when you need to push up your tray or get up to go to the bathroom, but your actions directly affect the person sitting in front of you.  If you slam the tray up or push hard to latch it, the person in front of you will be slammed or pushed, perhaps harshly out of a dead sleep.    If you grab the seat to haul yourself up, said person will probably be catapulted to some degree, which is never pleasant.  So please be conscientious and slow down, don’t use the seat as your tool for movement, and everyone wins.  Remember, someone is behind you, too!
  • Headphones are a beautiful thing.  While I know it’s easy to assume the songs you love are everyone’s favorite, that is often not the case.  Nor do many enjoy listening to your FIFA soccer game, cheers and jeers included, as we try to read our books.  Nor is that R rated movie (even if it is academy award material) really enjoyable with its sex scene sound effects…..can you say “awkward”?  So please, travelers, remember to always use your headphones regardless of the type of device you are using (smartphone, iPad, or laptop).
  • Don’t be an Overhead Hog.  Lord knows everyone carries on their bags now that most airlines charge to check them.  I get that, and I have NO problem with those bags being brought on.  But there is still a tacit cost to it and EVERYONE should have a fair share at the storage!  So excuse me, but if you brought luggage and a backpack or laptop bag, put the latter under the seat in front of you.  Or if you brought a jacket or cowboy hat, don’t take limited overhead space for such trifles!  What happens is the poor guy in Group 4 gets on and his luggage, which won’t fit under his seat, has no place to go as your laptop takes up the space his bag would easily fit!  And you might say, “hey, you snooze, you lose!  I want to be comfortable!” but I argue, what happens if YOU end up in that place?  We, as travelers, are better than survival of the fittest!  And further, remember we are all in this together, and if bags have no place to go,the Flight Attendants need to coordinate their handling and this delays our flight.  So your greediness for overhead space for objects that can easily fit under the seat in front of you while also providing ample legroom messes us ALL up.  Just don’t do it!
  • There’s a Method to the Madness.  When the plane lands, especially if it was delayed at all, everyone is in a rush to exit.  Oh, who am I kidding?  No matter what, we all want to get off the plane and get to where we are going.  But even with that rush to be off the tiny area we’ve sat in for hours, there are seldom justifications that allow a person to push ahead of the exit etiquette rules (though they are broken every.  single.  time.  I.  fly.)  The ONLY exception to this rule is if the flight was so delayed that passengers that have connecting flights must to exit first to catch the connections…..and please, if that’s the case, LET THEM GET OFF FIRST!  Otherwise, etiquette demands that each row be allowed to exit, grab their overhead bag(s), and proceed off the plane.  DO NOT try to jump pass the row ahead of you because you’re already in the aisle……if there are three seats to the left and to the right in the row ahead of you, let them ALL out and proceed unless they specifically wave you on.  Demanding precedence for ANY reason causes delays to the people behind you and delays to the people who are technically in front of you.  And that is not cool.  I know it sucks when you’re in the back of the plane – I am often there – but the fact that it sucks does not mean other people should be forced to wait for you to push through.
  • Smile.  When I was traveling almost 75% of the time, it was easy for me to get bored or even frustrated that I had to listen to the FAA safety speech, wait for my drink, and otherwise go through the boring in flight ritual.  Well, imagine how the Flight Attendants feel having to DO all that, day in and day out, while most of the people they are serving care less about most of the process?  And, while I know they have chosen this job as a career, can you imagine being stuck in a plane day after day, usually filled with cranky travelers?  Make a huge difference, one airline employee  at a time, and smile and even go out of your way to say thank you!  And while you’re at it, smile to the co-travelers around you – even the ones that push their way forward or slammed their tray into your head – its amazing how it spreads like a yawn.
  • More to come soon!  Let me know what you think so far!

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