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Airplane etiquette: How to not annoy your fellow passengers

After 100 years of passenger airline service, you’d think people would have it worked out but these bad habits are still alive — and effectively annoying everyone. Here's how to avoid comitting these airplane faux pas.

The backpack attack

For the safety of aisle passengers, take your back pack off on while walking through the aisle(Photo credit: 1001Love/iStock)

It makes sense to wear your backpack up to the plane but once you board, that bag hangs inconveniently at face-height for folks already seated. For the safety of aisle passengers everywhere, take it off and carry it like any other bag. And no matter what carry-on you bring, when you reach your aisle, step out of the aisle to get organized out of everyone else’s way.

Being in-scent-sitive

Avoid wearing strong fragrances on your flight(Photo credit: nicoletaionescu / iStock)

One of the kindeset things you can do for other passengers is to smell as neutral as possible. That new fragrance you just grabbed in duty free could give your neighbour a headache — or worse — an allergic reaction.

Thinking of bringing food on board? A good rule is to not bring hot food of any kind. It will smell and it will bother someone so eat it before you board. You already know the rules around that tuna or egg sandwich you brought from home so we don’t have to mention those.

The seat-switching guilt trip

Don't try to guilt someone into giving up their window seat just because you prefer the view(Photo credit: asiseeit / iStock)

Asking someone to switch seats so that you can sit next to your underage, elderly or ill family member is reasonable. Guilting someone into giving up their window seat because you’d prefer the view is not.

Backseat violations

The person in front of you can definitely feel when you're jamming your knees into the back of their seat(Photo credit: izusek / iStock)

You are free to reposition however you like to get comfortable — within the space of your seat. But keep in mind that when you’re jamming your knees into the back of the seat in front of you in a restless huff, the person sitting there feels it. Promise.

You know what else they feel? The jolt back and spring forward caused by grabbing their headrest to haul yourself out of your seat. Use your armrests and some consideration to make your way to the aisle.

The armrest debate

Let’s put this one to rest for good: the middle seat is the worst seat so the middle seat gets the armrests.(Photo credit: BraunS / iStock)

Let’s put this one to rest for good: the middle seat is the worst seat so the middle seat gets the armrests. Now kindly enjoy your window or easy access to the aisle.

Resist the recline

If you must recline your seat, check in to see if it's OK.(Photo credit: Meinzahn / iStock)

It’s not your fault that the handy tray belonging to the person behind you is attached to your seat, but it’s not their fault either. If you must recline (and really, must you?), check in to see if it’s OK. There might be a laptop or glass of red wine at risk of certain disruption. Or, you know, that person’s poor knees!

Being an oblivious chatterbox

If you start an enthusiastic conversation on a flight, be mindful of your fellow passengers and keep the volume at a minimum.(Photo credit: XiXinXing / iStock)

It’s always nice to say hi to your neighbour but if they’re giving you one-word answers, have plugged in their headphones or opened their book, it’s time to kindly back off. If you do hit it off and start an enthusiastic conversation, remember the passengers around you can hear everything so pretend you’re talking in class and keep it down.

No shoes? No socks? No thank-you.

A lot of people are yucked out by bare feet(Photo credit: @jessiechar / Twitter)

Travel — even just getting to the airport on time with all of your stuff — can be exhausting. But think twice before kicking off your shoes and socks on the plane. A lot of people are yucked out by bare feet, even freshly-pedicured ones. And you don’t want to know what’s made contact with that carpet.

Speaking of yuck, there’s a time and a place for personal grooming and none of it aligns with your hours on-board. Clipping your toenails (seriously), trimming your split ends or plucking of any kind are a big no-no. Take it to the bathroom. And put your shoes on first — flight attendants don’t have time to clean those floors during the flight and they’re likely not wet from tap water… 

What’s your biggest in-flight pet peeve? Let us know in the comments!

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