Airplane Etiquette: Flight attendants, experts share the dos and don'ts of flying

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Airplane Etiquette: Flight attendants, experts share the dos and don'ts of flying
Consumer Reports shares the dos and don'ts of airplane etiquette according to flight attendants and experts

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's no secret that air travel can test your patience, from crowded planes to overpriced mediocre snacks and food.

As unpleasant as flying can be, following some basic common-sense rules can lessen the stress. And with holiday travel coming up, Consumer Reports unpacks the dos and don'ts of flying etiquette that could make your next trip - and everyone else's - more pleasant.

Flight delays, long security checks, and jam-packed planes make flying hard enough. Add in rude, inconsiderate passengers, and it's a recipe for disaster. But being courteous can mean different things to different people.

To clear the air, Consumer Reports consulted with flight attendants and etiquette experts to come up with an essential guide of unspoken rules.

To begin, middle seat passengers should have access to both armrests. It's the only real estate they own, so let them get the consolation prize.

And what about reclining? You certainly have the right to, but before you do, make sure you're not inconveniencing the person behind you, who may have long legs. You can also politely ask if they mind if you recline.

Next, remember that you're sharing a confined space with others. That means you should wear headphones when using devices, don't hoard the overhead bins, avoid unpacking anything smelly (no thank you, tuna salad sandwiches), and definitely keep your shoes on.

And what if a person wants to switch seats? It's okay to say no if there's a reason you chose that seat, like being next to a window so you can sleep. But be flexible if it's an equal trade, like an aisle seat one row back.

What if someone is kicking your chair? It's okay to politely ask them to stop.

If disruptions do occur, someone gets angry or aggressive, Consumer Reports says it's best not to take matters in your own hands. Tell a flight attendant, who is trained to handle those kinds of situations.