Manners Matter 14

Manners at the Airport and at 25,000 Feet

By Ron Ross


“Hi there!” a pretty lady said to me with a big smile, “I’m Julie and I am going to be your BFF for the next two hours!” We were flying from Denver to Chicago on a direct flight. I had the aisle seat and she was stuck in the center seat on a packed airplane.

It was a pleasant flight mostly because Julie got things started off right with a happy smile and a warm greeting. When I flew from Denver to Orlando last week I said the same thing to the tall gentleman who was suffering in the center seat next to me. We too had a pleasant flight with the right amount of conversation and the right amount of private time.

Flying has lost its glamour but there are ways to improve your time waiting near the gate and your time in the air by being mannerly. Here are a few airport and high-altitude manners that will make your next trip more bearable and even enjoyable.

Your first experience at the airport is usually the check-in lines. Here is an undeniable truth: The line will NOT move faster if you keep bumping into the person in front of you.

The same truth applies to boarding the plane. When you board the plane please keep control of your carry-on bags. I hate it when people bump me as they move down the airplane aisle to find seat 47C.

When boarding, be patient and polite. It takes awhile for 137 people to do anything – especially board a fully-booked airplane, find their seat, stash their luggage, climb over another passenger, place their briefcase, purse or backpack (or all three items) in the space in front of their feet, sit down and buckle up. If you are patient and polite it will go better for you and for those around you.

You are on board now and you have greeted your new BFF with a kind word and a smile. This side-by-side two-hour random relationship can be mutually pleasant if the two of you obey some simple rules of human behavior:

  1. Don’t talk too much or too little. You may want to chat for two hours whilst your seat mate wants to snooze.
  2. Respect each other’s space. Airplanes are crowded and uncomfortable enough without elbowing or knee and shoulder bumping.
  3. Share the armrest appropriately. Don’t hog the armrest once you gain control of it. It is there for both passengers.
  4. Help the cabin staff serve the people next to you. Pass along their coffee and snacks when necessary.
  5. Allow your seatmates access to the aisle. Failure to do this could be very uncomfortable for both of you.

When you arrive at your destination do NOT try to crowd your way out of the plane. On my recent trip to Orlando I was very impressed at how polite most passengers were as they deplaned, allowing each row to exit in order.

When it comes to riding for two or three hours with only 2.5” of space between you and one or two other strangers, manners matter!

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