Airport etiquette: How to avoid being ‘that' annoying passenger on a flight

·5-min read
Airport etiquette: How to avoid being ‘that' annoying passenger on a flight

Staff shortages, heatwaves and strikes have combined for an unruly summer travel season. Airports, in particular, are chaotic enough right now.

Thousands of passengers across Europe have faced flight cancellations in recent months. Others have missed take-off while standing in nightmare queues - sometimes in hazardously hot temperatures.

With staff shortages - the root cause of the chaos - unlikely to ease any time soon, we all need to do our part to alleviate the situation.

Being a considerate traveller is key. Next time you hop on the train or plane, follow these tips to make the experience a little easier on your fellow passengers.

10. Don’t travel for business if it can be done on Zoom

We all know air travel is bad for the environment, but the true cost of flying could be far worse than we thought - and it’s not just CO2 that is raising the stakes.

Aircraft engines emit other elements like nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and soot particulates, which all contribute to climate change.

Consider alternatives to air travel - such as train travel or a video call - before booking your ticket.

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Use video call instead of flying to business meetings - Pexels

9. Don’t clap when you land (cringe)

We get it, some people are nervous flyers, and the urge to celebrate on landing can be overwhelming. But try to resist. Put simply, clapping when you land is a total cringe fest.

8. Respect people’s personal space

Keeping your hands to yourself is a good rule to follow in general - and particularly while travelling. Don't touch other people or their things without asking, resist the urge to manspread, and avoid reclining your seat sharply or too far - particularly during mealtimes.

Unofficial plane etiquette dictates that the window seat gets a wall and an armrest, the middle seat gets two armrests, and the aisle seat gets an armrest and the aisle - you’ll appreciate this next time you get lumped with the middle seat.

While we’re on the topic of seating, choose your spot carefully. If you get travel sick, select an aisle seat (and go to the bathroom to puke). If you have a weak bladder, don’t take a window seat as you’ll only disturb your neighbours throughout the flight.

RichLegg via Getty Images
Avoid manspreading on planes and public transport. - RichLegg via Getty Images

7. Don’t make queues longer than they already are

…Talking about peeing, let’s emphasise that bathrooms are strictly for business. Don’t spend a leisurely time flossing, brushing your hair and replying to text messages when there’s a lengthy queue of passengers busting their bladders and blocking the aisle outside. Do take a moment to wash your hands, though.

With airport queues at breaking point, it’s important to reduce them wherever possible. To speed things along, keep your passport and boarding pass handy at check in. And don’t wait until you’re at the front of the security line to remove your belt, jewellery, laptop, portable charger and liquids.

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Passengers queue inside the departures terminal of Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, June 27, 2022. - REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

6. Don’t jump the gun

Queue-jumping is an obvious no-no - unless you have accessibility needs or are travelling with small children, that is. It’s also important to practice patience when boarding your flight: wait until the doors have closed and the crew have confirmed everyone is on board before grabbing that free row of seats.

On landing, don’t stand up aggressively in your row before it's your turn to exit the plane – it won’t save you time and it makes things uncomfortable for everyone else. When waiting for your baggage, don’t huddle around the belt - it blocks the view for others.

5. Keep it down

There’s nothing more irritating than hearing the dull beat of techno music or an in-flight action movie emanating from another person’s headphones. Remove your earbuds to test the volume before cranking it up on your journey.

In a similar vein, avoid jumping straight on a call and chatting loudly the second the plane lands.

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Don't turn your music up too loud - Pexels

4. Leave the bad smells at home

Just because you’re packed like sardines, doesn’t mean you should smell like fish. Give that tuna and spring onion sandwich a miss. Pack a fresh pair of socks if you plan to remove your shoes, and keep your feet out of people’s faces. Also, wear plenty of deodorant if you’re prone to perspiring.

3. Go easy on the booze

We know you’re on holiday, but wait until you’re on the beach to start necking those piña coladas. Our recent poll (unsurprisingly) revealed that the majority of negative flight experiences involve a drunk passenger - don’t let that be you.

Even if you’re not an aggressive drunk, you could end up passing out on your neighbour's shoulder and blocking them from going to the bathroom.

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Don't drink too much on your journey - Pexels

2. Give up your seat

Whether you’re on a busy train or in an airport waiting area, giving your seat to those who need it more is always good practice. Disabled people, the elderly, pregnant people and those carrying children should all be prioritised.

For extra points, switch seats with separated passengers if you’re sitting alone. It’s also thoughtful to free-up seats next to airport power outlets once your devices are charged.

1. Be kind to staff

When you’ve just spent hours in a sweltering queue or your bags are stranded in a pile of lost luggage, it’s easy to take your frustrations out on the airport staff. But try your best to be kind. They work hard, and with severe staff shortages we need them more than ever right now.

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