Airplane Etiquette: 10 Commandments Of Airline Travel

6 min. read By Cloey Mangali on

Whether it is your first time riding an airplane—or not, how you act inside it says a lot about you. It can also affect the quality of your trip and that of your fellow passengers.

Discussing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to boarding a plane is basically just talking about common courtesy and being considerate of other passengers.  

Airplane Etiquette

Basic airplane etiquette is vital to every passenger’s relaxing journey, in order to help you play your part and help ensure a pleasant trip for you and everyone around you, here are the 10 commandments expert and responsible flyer should follow.

Commandment No.1: Respect the lavatory

Lavatories are vital, common areas shared by everybody and using them properly is probably the best way to so consideration to your co-travelers and yourself as well.

When you use the toilets, keep in mind that other people are waiting to use it as well. Don’t consume a lot of time and just do what you need to do quickly and efficiently.

Also, please don’t make a mess. It’s just gross and inconsiderate.

Commandment No. 2: Be scent-sitive

In respect to the hundreds of other passengers with you onboard the plane, if you decide to carry with you your own meals beforehand, go for the ones which don’t smell too much.

Also, as much as you are excited to try the new perfumes and lotions you just acquired from the airport, be aware that upon doing so, you could affect other people’s allergies.

Commandment No. 3: Battle of the armrests

In the often-cramped quarters of an airplane, who gets the armrest is the subject of never-ending debate.  The middle seat is an especially contentious battlefield.  Really, does the middle seat get the armrest to their left? Their right? Might they be entitled to both?

Let’s put things in some perspective. The thing is, middle seats are considered the worst seats because at least the window seat gets the window and the view while the aisle seat has his/her own extra breathing space . Given that, in the interest of fairness, they should be entitled to both armrests as compensation for being squeezed in by two strangers inside a flying capsule.

After all, window seat still has one armrest to the left and so does aisle seat. Let middle seat have their armrests.

(Read: Things Only Frequent Travelers Know By Heart)

Commandment No. 4: Be mindful of your belongings—and your children

Taking children on flights is considered normal , especially among Filipinos who just love going on family trips. What should not be normal is children being out of control while trapped with a bunch of other people in a metal capsule thousands of feet up in the air.

If you’re a parent and you’re reading this, please make sure that you make an extra effort to check your child just as much as you mind your belongings. You may be tired and exhausted, but your co-passengers are too.

For the child-less travelers who experience this kind of situation, remain calm and remind yourself to be patient . You were once a child and you know the feeling of being unaccustomed in an unfamiliar surrounding with a lot of unusual people.

You can talk to the parents if you happen to have some problems with their child but, never, never ever scold them. You are not in the place to reprimand and correct a stranger’s child behavior.

Commandment No. 5: Recline your chairs carefully or don’t recline at all

When you are inside an aircraft, it is of the utmost importance that you are aware of your surroundings at all time. And that you should be conscious of respecting other people’s space.

Check the effect your movements will have on others. This is especially important when deciding whether you can recline your chair or not.

There is nothing wrong with doing so because that button wasn’t placed there just for decoration. But please do consider the other people around you as well.

Before you decide to recline your chair, check the person at the back and see if they are using their tray’s to hold drinks, food, or as work desks. It also best to inform your fellow passenger that you will be reclining your seat.

As much as possible, if you can resist the urge to recline, do so. Put yourself in the seat of the person in front of you and think how uncomfortable YOU would be if the passenger in front of you reclined their seat.

Conversely, it’s not unthinkable to politely tap a reclining person and ask them to move up a little. Be polite and (hopefully) they’ll be polite right back.

Commandment No. 6: Don’t abuse overhead bins

Keep in mind that you are only allowed certain kilos of checked-in and carry-on luggage.

If you are really not willing to shell out a few extra pesos to buy check-in baggage allowance, make sure that your carry-on baggage meets the proper parameters. Rule of thumb? If you can’t lift your bag, don’t carry it on.

Maximize the use of overhead bins. Bring with you only 1 to 2 hand-carry luggage. If the bin is already crowded, don’t force your stuff in , you can also keep the smaller and lighter suitcase at the space under your seat.

Commandment No. 7: Be kind to the flight attendants

If you have any problem regarding your flight or your suitcase or whatever else about it, flight attendants can help, but not by being your punching bag.

Never ever curse or yell at them just because you are inconvenienced by a delay or a broken seatbelt or because you can’t fit your luggage in the overhead bin.

Also, as much as you may hate those stupid rules and regulations that you must follow onboard a plane, flight stewardess aren’t the ones responsible for creating it so stop putting the blame on them.

Yes, customers are always right but customers with respect are also the ones worth respecting.

(Read:  Miles 101: The Ultimate Guide To Frequent Flyer Programs)

Commandment No. 8: Get up only at convenient times (unless it is an emergency)

Think before you take your bathroom breaks. Don’t stand up if you see flight attendants with their pushcarts coming your way. Wait until their service is complete or else you’ll delay everything as well as your toilet visit.

Also, if you are occupying the window seat, as much as possible schedule when to stand-up so that you will not disturb your co-passengers by walking in and out of the aisle.

Commandment No. 9: Think about how you choose to snooze

Be as mindful of how your naptime will affect your seatmates, especially if you are in the middle and aisle seats. They might need bathroom breaks too, so be prepared to let them past. You can even ask before you settle down for your nap.

If you are a frequent traveler, invest in a neck pillow. Avoid using the trays as your headrest. Sleep with consideration for your surroundings and other passengers.

Commandment No. 10: Practice the proper way of disembarking the plane

First of all, please heed the disembarkation notice and stay seated until the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off. You’re not going to be able to get off until the plane is at a complete stop anyway so what is the rush?

Along the same line, don’t be in such a rush to get off. Keep in mind that everyone is as eager as you to get off the plane. Becoming part of the jostling crowd on the aisle is not going to get you off the plane quicker.

Let the ones in front of you leave ahead of you. Think of it as if having more time to prepare yourself and your things before it is finally your turn to exit, so see to it that you will not be leaving anything behind.

About the author

Cloey Mangali

Cloey Mangali Cloey was a dentistry student before she found her true calling. After writing digital content for several publications, she now churns out financial advice and lifestyle pieces on eCompareMo. She is also a certified travel junkie, novel geek, and sports enthusiast.