Manner Monday®: Airplane and Travel Etiquette

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Many families are heading out on summer vacation.  For many, that means hitting the airport.

For the frequent flyer, they know the rules of Airplane and Travel Etiquette inside and out!  But for families who don’t fly on a regular basis, airline travel can be a bit overwhelming and it can add undo stress to the family vacation.  Don’t let the stress override your end goal of relaxing and having fun.

Look at this also as a great opportunity to teach your kids how to be gracious travelers.  Point out the good, the bad, and the ugly and have conversations.  One of these days they’ll be travelling on their own and you want to make sure they have the tools to be good travelers… not ‘tacky tourists’.

Here are a few of the things you may encounter during your trip and some tips to help you navigate them comfortable and confidently.

Escalators and Moving Sidewalks
Think of moving sidewalks and escalators as a highway. Slower traffic (standing) in the right lane, faster traffic (walking) in the left lane. When driving on a highway, if you stop in the middle of the rode, you create a traffic jam, or worse, an accident… same thing happens on people movers. Add to the mix, people pulling luggage, pushing small children in strollers, the elderly who may be feeling unstable… you get the picture. When you step off the escalator or moving sidewalk, if you need to get your bearings before moving on, make sure you step aside completely clear of traffic to alleviate an accident.

Also, it’s always a good idea to “hold on”, you’d hate to lose your balance and create the domino effect down the escalator.

Just like an elevator, you need to wait for those exiting to clear the doorways before you start to enter.  Everyone is in a hurry, and everyone wants to be the first off – but everyone also needs to get onto the tram.  As you enter, move towards the back to make way for the others.  Once you find your spot, “hold on”.  Not only will you need to hold on to the pole to secure yourself, but you also need to hold on to your personal effects, those little trams can fly… sending your carryon on a little journey of its own!

Carry On Bags
If you’re carrying on your luggage and have more than one bag, take time BEFORE you board the plane to organize your bags.  Determine which one will be your ‘below bag’ and which will be your ‘above bag’.  The below bag should contain items you’ll need during the flight such as water, technology, medicine, etc.  The above bag contains everything else that’s not needed during the flight.

Don’t be a ‘bin hog’.  Keep your bag to a manageable size.  Don’t overstuff it – you know how big (or should I say little) those bins are!!! (If you’re traveling for the first time and do not know the size – you can look at the requirements on the airlines website.)

Who gets the armrest?
Technically the person in middle seat gets the short end of the stick all the way around, so let’s at least gives them the arm rests!  If we look at it logically, the outer seats both have the outside armrests and space to lean into.  Again, the person in the middle seat is stuck with no place to go – so let’s cut them some slack.  Look at it as the consolation prize for being stuck in the middle.

Sleeping Seatmates
There’s not getting around them – literally.  If you try, you’ll find yourself in a very awkward position mid-straddle when then wake up!  Gently nudge them and say ‘excuse me’.  They’ll understand – it’s part of travelling.

Chatty Cathy
If you’re not in the mood to talk, put on the ear buds and plug in.  Or open a book and read.  If your seatmate keeps trying to talk to you, you can gently say something like ‘I would love to visit, but I’m in the middle of this book and am trying to finish it during this flight’.

And who knows, everything is meant for a reason, maybe you need to engage in the conversation, you may learn something, or meet someone new and it might be well worth the ‘interruption’.

Dress Code
Gone are the days of dressing up to travel, but some travelers have taken dressing down to a whole new level.  Please leave the pajamas and house shoes at home.  You can still be comfortable and look respectable.  And if you feel like kicking off your shoes in flight – make sure you’re wearing clean socks that are ‘odor free’.  One time on an overseas flight, I had to endure a seatmate who not only kicked off her shoes, but proceeded to prop her bare (stinky) feet up on the headrest in front of her.  Needless to say, I lost my appetite during that flight!

Kids and travel
Having a child myself, I know traveling can be a bit of a nightmare when they’re toddlers: and as a parent, we do just about anything possible to keep the little tykes entertained, so they don’t “entertain” the other travelers.  Unfortunately though, we get so caught up in keeping Junior occupied, that we sometimes forget we may be “occupying” our neighbor’s space as well.  If you take along technology, don’t forget the headsets/ear buds.  If they’re playing games and don’t have their ear buds in – turn the sound off.

I recently stumbled across a great little accessory we use when traveling, it’s a “splitter” attachment to allow access for two sets of headphones to be plugged into one device.  This little gadget has worked wonders on long trips as we can watch a movie, or listen to music, together and it helps to keep us from “disturbing the peace”.

It’s all in the ‘tude
Keep a positive attitude!  Things happen, fights get delayed, and people get cranky.  If you keep a positive attitude – you’ll get much farther.  The old saying ‘you catch more flies with honey’ is a great rule of thumb to remember when the situation gets sticky!  Being nice may be the difference of getting on that overbooked flight vs. being stuck in the airport with the other sourballs that were yelling at the gate agents!

If you are traveling through airports this summer, have a great vacation!

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