How to behave on a plane
Who owns the middle seat arm rests? How do you break away from a marathon talker? And what do you do about little Damian from The Omen who keeps kicking the back of your seat?
No, you can’t kick him back, it’s against the law.
Here are a few tips, both defensive and offensive, to get you through your travels with less stress and more civility.
This seems obvious, but hardly anyone does it. As your stress level rises your capacity for tolerance and civility often decreases.
Count till ten
Stay calm if your gate agent gives you bad news. Losing your temper won’t get you there faster, and it may lose you the sympathy of the one person who could possibly pull some strings.
Dress and pack with security in mind to avoid delaying other passengers.
Rather pack your cowboy belt with the giant buckle in your suitcase to avoid unnecessary commotion at the screening gates.
Keep items you may have to remove from your luggage for screening, such as laptops, readily accessible. This keeps the line moving, which keeps tempers calm. If you’re a frequent traveller who knows the drill, be patient with those who are new at this – they may be nervous.
If you can’t choose your environment, create your own. Use headphones to listen to music or movies (whether in the terminal or on the plane), or earplugs to block out unwanted conversations. If your seatmate won’t stop chatting with you, smile and say, “Well, it’s been nice speaking with you. I’m going to read for a bit now.”
Do your fellow travellers a favour and step away from others in the terminal to take cellphone calls, and keep calls brief – no one wants to listen to your convos.
Sharing is caring
The middle seat arm rests are shared property. That said, it’s generous for the aisle and window seat holders to give the middle passenger a chance to claim them first.
Practice some patience
Travelling is trying for adults, and even more so for children.
Crying babies are part of the air travel package, so it’s a good idea to stash some earplugs in your carry on.
And remember, the reason they cry during take-off and landing is because it really hurts their baby ears. So don’t be a dick about it. However, if someone’s demon spawn is kicking the back of your seat, it’s okay to ask their parent to have them stop. Smile and say, “I know it’s tough for kids, but would you mind asking him not to kick the seat? Thanks.” Keep it short and offer some understanding, and it’s likely the parent and child will comply.
Reading over someone’s shoulder is nosy and intrusive and a person would be perfectly in their rights to tell you to shove off. Avoid the temptation and come prepared with books, magazines, or a laptop of your own. Privacy filters for computers and smart phones will bar wandering eyes. If 6A is taking an unhealthy interest in your screen, meet his gaze briefly. This will jolt his awareness – the best medicine for rude behaviour.
With airlines cutting back on complimentary in-flight meals and snacks, the smart traveller packs his or her own. Avoid foods with strong odours that may bother your neighbours though, such as tuna fish, egg salad, or a garlicky meatball sub – enjoy these in the terminal instead.