Southwest Airlines passengers take to Twitter daily to complain about other passengers saving seats during its open boarding.
With peak travel season upon us, it’s time for a refresher course on airline etiquette.
If you’re one of the estimated 246 million passengers set to board a U.S. airline this summer, consider this a guide to avoiding eye rolls, or worse, from your fellow passengers and airline employees.
1. Keep things in perspective and remember your manners. There was a time when traveling across the country took weeks, and death was an acknowledged risk. Death! Now we throw a fit if we’re moved to a middle seat so a scared toddler can sit with her family. Unexpected stuff happens so instead of pulling out your cellphone so all of Twitter can share in your righteous indignation, relax and think, “I’ll be in New York in a few hours, how amazing is that?”
2. Don’t be a seat hog. It doesn’t matter if you fly once a year or have the top status in the airline’s frequent-flier program, you paid for a seat and one seat is what you get. This applies to you, too, Southwest Airlines seat savers. Be respectful of your neighbor’s space, especially if they’re stuck in the middle. Give a heads-up to the person behind you if you’re about to recline. Yes, there is someone behind you, as much as you pretend not to know.
3. Treat the overhead bin as community property. Imagine for a moment you were able to cheat physics and fit that oversize carry-on into the bin. Don’t compound the error by adding your personal item (which by rule goes under your seat) and finishing off the trifecta of selfishness with your coat. If you do, you’re what flight attendants refer to as “jerks.”
4. When boarding, don’t be accompanied by a tuna fish sandwich. Or any other pungent food for that matter. Unless you brought enough for everyone. You did? Well, no one likes tuna fish.
5. Don’t forget headphones, especially for your kids. You’re toddler may love to watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on their flight, but your neighbors probably don’t.
6. Know the difference between a passenger jet and your living room. Seems obvious, what with a jet being a pressurized metal tube flying 30,000 feet above your living room. So why do some people kick off their shoes, clip their nails and/or floss?
7. Remember that TSA rules don’t magically change between flights. Yes, you still need to have gels and fluids out of the bag, as well as large digital devices. Shoes still come off, and that Rodeo King belt buckle is going to set off the same alarms like last time. Yet you’re still holding everyone up as if this is new information.
8. When something bad happens, don’t instinctively start recording. Maybe you can help somehow, or calm the situation. The best course of action might be to stay out of it. Weird, right?
9. Watch your children around easily annoyed passengers. Babies will cry and toddlers will squirm. The vast majority of parents do everything they can to calm their children. But there are those moms and dads who can’t be pulled away from their tablets as kids kick the seat or stare at the person behind them. At such close quarters, no one appreciates free-range kids.
10. Change diapers in the bathroom, not the tray table or empty seat next to you. Does this really have to be stated? Seriously? Because we had a way better pet peeve for No. 10. Now you’ll never know.
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