By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2020
The golden age of plane travel – when all passengers enjoyed gourmet 3-course meals, reclining chairs and generous leg room – is unfortunately a distant memory.
Spending up to 17 hours in a confined space is a sure recipe for bad behaviour.
In fact, unruly passenger incidents have increased by nearly 17% since 2015, according to the International Air Transport Association.
So, how should you behave while in the air? Here’s our list of aeroplane dos and don’ts.
1. Be prepared for security
Even before you board the plane, you want to make life easier for you and your fellow passengers.
This is all about thinking a few steps ahead, so you get through the screen process as quickly as possible.
Before you get to the x-ray machine, take everything out of your pockets and remove your coat, watch and belt. Put what you can in your bag and the rest in the provided tray.
Once your belongings come out of the scanner, collect them quickly and move to a spot where you’re not blocking anyone. Then put your coat, belt and shoes back on.
2. Consider when you recline
While you’re allowed to recline during a short domestic flight, consider if it’s necessary.
If not, maybe keep it upright. Your seat should also remain upright during meal service and when the plane is taking off or landing.
If you’re on a long-haul flight and want to recline, let the person behind you know and do it slowly.
3. Stay sober
If you’re drunk or disorderly on a flight, you could end up like the intoxicated passenger on an Icelandair flight in 2013 who was taped to his seat after grabbing women and trying to choke other passengers.
This might be an extreme situation, but you don’t want to be that annoying drunk passenger, so have a beer or wine with your meal and leave it at that.
Drinking excessively on a long flight can also make motion sickness worse and leave you severely dehydrated with a headache as well as jet lag.
4. Don’t get too comfortable
Social media has gifted us images of plane passengers with their bare feet on the back of the seat in front, a man doing a gym workout in the galley and countless people drying their sweaty undesirables under the air-conditioning vents.
The cabin isn’t your lounge room. Shoes, or at the very least socks, should stay on. Remain fully clothed for the duration of the flight and don’t dry your washing.
It’s unpleasant for your fellow travellers.
5. Treat the cabin crew like real people
The staff who serve you in the sky are real people who are doing their job and keeping you safe in the sky.
Be courteous to them and listen when they give you an instruction and you’ll be amazed how you’re treated in return.
6. Keep your kids entertained
Making sure your children stay seated throughout a long flight can be a challenge, so you’ll want to keep them entertained as much as possible.
Thankfully many long-haul flights have an entertainment system in the back of the seat that’ll help amuse the little ones.
Pack some colouring-in books, pencils and their favourite toy if it’s not too big. It’s also important to have a conversation with your children about the dos and don’ts on an aeroplane.
While we’re on the topic of children: don’t glare or scoff at babies who’re crying. They can’t help it. Chuck your headphones in and try to ignore it.
7. Avoid prodding the back of people’s seats
You might be excited to explore the in-flight entertainment while you fly, but that touchscreen works with a light touch.
This will save the passenger in front of you receiving an unwanted back massage.
You should also avoid grabbing the seatback in front as you stand up. Turbulence rattles your seat enough without the person behind you giving your chair a good shake every time they take a trip to the toilet.
8. Keep your music to yourself
This is a simple rule. Use headphones or earbuds when listening to music and don’t have it too loud so you don’t distract your fellow passengers.
9. Book an aisle seat if you’re going to be up and down
If you’re one of those people who likes to get up and down or needs to duck to the loo often, book an aisle seat if you can.
This way you won’t hassle your neighbours when you need to get up to stretch your legs.
10. Don’t bring smelly food on the plane
It might seem like a good idea to bring a whole barbecue chicken (I’ve seen this on a flight to Bali) or tuna sandwiches to snack on throughout your flight.
But you won’t make any friends when you pull a smelly sanga out of your bag in a confined space.
Leave your stinky food at home and pack some dried fruit, nuts, popcorn or muesli bars to snack on during the flight.
11. Keep to your own personal space
In the cramped quarters of an aeroplane, maintaining your personal space will help make the flight smoother for everyone.
Let the middle-seat passenger use the armrests and keep your legs within the width of the chair frame.
12. Calmly disembark
There’s nothing worse than everybody jumping up and jostling to get their luggage from the overhead bins as soon as the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac.
It usually takes at least 5 minutes for passengers to begin disembarking, so use that time to check you haven’t left anything in the seat pocket.
Once everyone ahead of you has begun leaving the plane, make your move, grabbing your items from the overhead bins quickly before walking down the aisle.