Airline Travel Etiquette 101

There are two travel tips that I believe could change the face of airline travel, should they go viral. If only I had a magic wand.

This week while traveling to Phoenix on my favorite airline, United, it struck me that there exists simple travel etiquette that has fallen to the wayside. Two simple life hacks that could elevate the entire experience.

Today airports are filled with hundreds of people moving in herds from one terminal to another, from one airport to another. Walking in unison, in a haze, completely unaware of the people around them and creating some unnecessary angst… accidentally, we’ll say.

Some perspective. According to the FAA, a staggering 2.58 million passengers reportedly flew in and out of US airports in 2017. That is equal to the population of some small countries. Imagine, if every citizen in Namibia, South Africa boarded a flight – it would be like that scene in Resident Evil when Milla Jovovich wakes up out of a coma and stumbles out into the empty streets of Raccoon City, not a soul in sight for miles. (Stop here if you have no idea who Alice is or The Umbrella Corporation and click here)

20K US airports, 2.58 million travelers, 26K daily scheduled flights – you can do the math, it’s sheer mayhem. And, to make matters worse, we sit in such close proximity on flights that are over-crowded and over-sold. Stress levels can shoot through the roof in a matter of seconds.

What if you had the power to make a small change that would have a big impact on another person’s travel experience? Two courteous tips that could be travelutionary:

Tip no. 1 – The Dreaded Armrest

There are definitely a few things that can drive some travelers crazy, but the debate surrounding “who owns the arm rest” wins hands down, in my book. I’m just going to say what everyone else is thinking: the armrest in the middle seats is considered “no mans land”. It’s not a “first come, first serve” situation. It’s essentially an invisible wall.

Most folks have “stranger danger” related anxieties is why no one says hello, how are you or good-bye. Headphones on, blank stare. It’s 100% poker face audition time. Friendly advice: keep your arms, hands on your lap or at your sides. Oh, and please do not cross them behind your head – you’re not at home and your elbow just missed my head.

Tip no. 2 – Deplaning

A close second to the armrest debacle is the entire deplaning process non-process. Barreling down the aisle attempting to deplane “out-of-order” is not going to make you any friends. And while the airline staff is great at getting everyone seated before take-off, it’s almost an “every man to himself” vibe once we land.

As the plane approaches the gate, we quickly realize that we are on our own; however, there is a method to the madness. Very similar to a four-way stop – you have to come to a complete stop, take turns, follow the rules.

So, if you are in aisle 26 there is no reason why you should jump up as soon as we land and hurdle over small children just to deplane before aisles 5-25. Just take a deep breath and let the nice lady in front of you grab her bags.

Two small fixes for greater traveling ROI.

And while this over-night to Phoenix inspired this piece, overall it was a great tip. But traveling on United is a gem. Now, ask me about my flight to Tampa on Delta this summer. Or my trip to Barcelona with Air Canada? ¡Dios míoNo gracias.

What is your travel pet peeve? Click on the comment section below and share away!


6 thoughts on “Airline Travel Etiquette 101

  1. This was an interesting read on travel etiquette Grace. For as long as I travelled I’ve never fully understood what was travel etiquette and what wasnt. Not that I’m impolite to other passengers on a plane of course but just not in the know. Guess it comes with experience though – and reading more informative posts like this.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

    1. Hey there John! Really appreciate you dropping by and leaving me comments 🙂 traveling… a never-ending learning experience, right?!

    1. Ohhhh Connie you have no idea! This drives me nuts LOL! I can’t even w/ feeling someone’s arm against mine… men are the worst about this! But I always wonder – why me? why am I the lucky one – “that guy” all stretched out as if his seat was a lazy boy recliner? 🙁

  2. Deplaning has to be one of my least favorite activities on earth. Let’s all get up and shove people so we can just all go wait at baggage claim. I flew on a few airlines in Europe that had front and rear exits on the plan which I thought would really speed up the process, but people were still just as rude. Sigh.

    1. People are insane in the US. We don’t even know how to exit an elevator much less deplane! (also one of my least favorite: watching guys from aisle 20 barrel down people from aisle 18 trying to get their things from the overhead – I N S A N E). Do you travel a lot? I do..

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