The 10 commandments of airport etiquette

Posted on 21/12/2015

The 10 commandments of airport etiquette

By: Tamara Elliot – April 22, 2014

Unless you happen to be holding a first class ticket, the idea of flying anywhere isn’t much fun. Sometimes it feels like airports are the place that manners go to die, what with all the frazzled travellers pushing you aside, grouchy security officers and fallout from endless delays. With that in mind, the following 10 commandments of airport etiquette would go a long way in making for a better trip—for everyone.

Thou shalt turn off your phone

If you really need to make a call while sitting in close proximity to your fellow travellers, do us all a favour and speak quietly! FaceTime is a huge no-no (we do NOT need to hear both sides of the convo) or better yet, find a secluded spot to chat where you won’t annoy everyone around you.

Once you board, make sure your phone is completely powered down or on airplane mode. Not only do most airlines require this, but there are few things more annoying then listening to someone’s alarm clock beep incessantly from some bag tucked away in an overhead cabin. I’m sadly speaking from experience, and you wouldn’t believe the death stares we were all giving the perpetrator when he finally clued in that it was his phone driving everyone crazy. If you still don’t understand why whipping out your cell in public is a terrible idea, check out this hilarious video called ‘Cell Phone Crashing.’

Thou shalt not bring stinky food—or stink

Thanks to the fact that there is virtually no fresh air, the last thing anyone wants to smell is that greasy burger or leftover Chinese food that you just had to bring on board. Seriously—why would anyone even think that was a good idea? I ask because I was unlucky enough to be sitting behind a woman who did just that, and got a very close look at the container full of curry that she accidentally dumped all over my lap while rearranging her bags.

Cold curry bowl on lap + 4 hour flight = grouchy Globe Guide.

On that note, ease up on the perfume and avoid taking a cologne bath before getting on the plane. Many people are allergic and don’t want to be subjected to the stench for hours at a time. Then again, eau de toilette does smell better than B.O….so make sure you SHOWER! Remember, deodorant was invented for a reason!

Remember that you’re a parent

Sure, you may be heading on vacation, but the airplane is no place to start taking a break from your kids—especially when they happen to be sitting beside you. Trust me, we all know that children can be uncontrollable, but even pretending to try and calm them down will go a long way to appeasing your fellow passengers. No one paid $1,500 to have the back of their seat kicked by a three-year-old for eight hours, or to watch a trio of tots run up and down the aisle. Take a break from that movie you’ve been wanting to watch and focus on keeping your kids happy instead—everyone will thank you for it.

Honour the queue

We get it. You are kind of a big deal, and your time is much more important than the rest of us patiently waiting in the check-in/security/boarding queue. But seriously, butting in line—therefore pissing off everyone behind you—will get you nowhere. Why?


If you really can’t handle lineups, then pay up. Get a business class ticket so you can go in the express check-in line. Get a NEXUS card to bypass security. But please, please, don’t push elderly women and little children out of the way with your huge luggage cart because you want to get to the gate that much faster. At the end of the day, everyone will be landing at the same time, regardless of who boarded first.

Thou shalt share the armrests

The sucker stuck in the middle seat gets both armrests. Don’t even try and argue that one.

Thou shalt use your inside voice

Speaking of annoying people, how much do you hate getting a full play-by-play of the week’s events from the Chatty Cathy behind you? It’s fine if you want to have a nice conversation with your spouse/friend/Latin lover, but try and avoid the loud shrieks of excitement and cackling laughter that makes the rest of us shudder. And never, EVER, lean across a random passenger to have a conversation with someone across the aisle! Finally, if the person you’re seating next to doesn’t seem to be that into you…leave them alone.

Thou shalt not grab the seat in front of you

When people are paying good money for their airline seat, the last thing they want it someone infringing on their ‘bubble.’ With that in mind, try to be respectful of whoever is sitting in front of you. Any time you play around with the TV monitor or lower your tray table, they can feel it. And, for the love of God, DON’T use their headrest as leverage to help you get out of your seat!

Thou shalt keep the beeping to yourself

Hey, you know those headphones you brought on board? How about using them—properly.
If you insist on playing Angry Birds on your iPad or listening to crazy angry rock music, might I suggest you do it with headphones on, and the volume turned way down. Absolutely nobody else is interested in listening. Besides, you’re going to need those eardrums you’re blowing out someday.

Honour security officials

Taking off your shoes in the middle of a gross airport is annoying. Not being allowed to bring more than two drops of liquid onto an airplane is annoying. There, I said it. But just because everyone and their dog agrees with me it doesn’t mean you don’t have to play by the rules. Every time you argue with a TSA official about why you should get to bring your new perfume or a bottle of booze on board, it just holds up the line behind you.

These rules have been in place for years. Get used to it.

Thou shalt not unpack in the aisle

Finally, the actual boarding process is a prime example of people behaving like animals. Try not to hold up the long line behind you once you finally do make it to your seat. The easiest way to do this is to immediately step into your row to organize your belongings and get settled before throwing your bag up, instead of doing it in the clogged aisle while people are trying to get past you. You can always grab something out of the overhead bin once the plane takes off.
Once that plane lands, make a speedy exit by having everything ready to go. Otherwise, sit tight until everyone else is off so you can take your sweet, sweet time.

Are there any commandments you think should be added to the list? What’s your biggest pet peeve with other passengers while flying? Comment below.

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