Travel News Airplane Etiquette 101: Follow These Rules on Your Next Flight

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Airplane Etiquette 101: Follow These Rules on Your Next Flight

Everyone knows that you can’t recline your airplane seat during takeoff, but what are the rules once you’re in the air? It can feel like a free for all at times, but some unspoken rules of plane etiquette do apply in certain situations.

  • When you should recline
  • Be courteous during meals
  • Don’t use an airplane seat recline blocker
  • Know the armrest rules
  • Be mindful of personal space
  • Respect the proper order of things
  • Know which restroom to use

When you should recline

So should you stay upright or enjoy a little reclining action on the flight? Well, that all depends on the trip. Generally speaking, if your flight is less than three hours, it’s best to keep your seat in the upright position. Anything over three hours and it’s pretty much fair to recline as soon as the wheels are up. If you’re flying overnight, it’s pretty much expected that you’ll recline your seat, so don’t feel too guilty.

Be courteous during meals

As a common courtesy, you should bring your seat up-right as soon as meals are served. Don’t wait until the meal is handed to you since it’s possible the person behind you will be getting a special meal before you. It’s awkward enough to be eating a meal with a plastic knife and fork in a tight space, the last thing you want is the seat in your face. You should obviously make your best efforts to clean up after yourself. That means neatly putting all your garbage on your tray making it easy for collection when the flight attendants come around.

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Don’t use an airplane seat recline blocker

Airplane seat recline blockers make it impossible for the person seated in front of you to recline, but it won’t take them long for them to figure out what’s going on. Naturally, that person will complain about you to flight attendants. In the past, people have feuded over seat blockers which required the flight to divert and the police had to be brought on board to remove passengers. This is a bit of an extreme case, but you still shouldn’t use a seat blocker.

Know the armrest rules

There’s really one rule when it comes to armrests. The person seated in the middle of a three-seat configuration gets the two armrests. If you’re sitting in the window seat, use the one by the window. If you’re sitting in the aisle, the aisle armrest is yours. In a two-seat configuration, the person with the window gets the extra armrest since the person in the aisle has a touch more room. If you happen to be sitting the rare four-seat configuration, then it could be a first come, first serve circumstance since it’s unlikely all four of you will all follow airplane etiquette.

Be mindful of personal space

When you purchase a seat on a plane, that’s all you’re getting. That doesn’t mean you get all the space around you, so don’t stick your feet on the armrests, meal tray, or seat in front of you. Similar to mealtime, make sure your personal space is clean and tidy so you don’t annoy other passengers or the flight crew. When it comes to comfort, it’s okay to use a sleep mask or headphones, but don’t strip down if you normally sleep in your undies.

Respect the proper order of things

Have you ever noticed that when a plane is about to board, a lot of people get up and start waiting in line? Don’t be one of those people. Airlines board first-class passengers first, and then those that need assistance. Once those passengers have boarded, they start with passengers at the back of the plane. Don’t think you’re being smart by getting on early to secure cabin space for your bag, flight attendants will see your seat assignment and just tell you to wait your turn. Those lines just end up holding everyone up.

Know which restroom to use

Generally speaking, you should always use the restroom that’s closest to your seat. Sometimes that restroom is behind your seat, so make sure you survey the plane once you get seated. Now, this isn’t a hard rule, if you see a restroom that currently doesn’t have a line, then of course, make your way to it. It’s also okay to cut through the galley if you’re trying to get to an empty restroom on the other side of the seats. That being said, if flight attendants are currently using that area to prepare a meal, just wait your turn. It is also a known rule that if seated in economy, you will not be permitted to use the first class restroom. Once the aircraft has reached cruising altitude, flight attendants will typically close the curtains at the edge of first class and economy, so don’t try to sneak your way up there!

Airplane washroom

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